"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Developing the Health Market

There is a lot of talk about privatising the NHS at the moment. Let me calm you all down. The NHS will not be privatised the day after the Health Bill is passed by toady Tory MPs and their lick-spittle Lib Dem chums. But it will happen a year, or maybe five years after. In a decade's time we will look at our local hospitals and reminisce, wistfully "remember when the community owned all the hospitals and there was proper public accountability?"

The problem is that hospitals are a huge investment (the Department of Health reckons that the hospitals in England are worth, in total, £24bn). Few healthcare corporations are able to invest even a fraction of that amount of money, especially since (as we are told incessantly) NHS funds are tight, so there's not much money to pay for treatments and so profit margins will be small.

However, Lansley has bet his reputation on creating a "healthcare market" of alternative providers. If he doesn't deliver this then he will lose all credibility with his right-wing chums. The likelihood is that few companies will want to invest such large amounts of money right now. So what does a government do when it the private sector refuses to invest through lack of cash? It provides our money, free, for the private sector, of course! This is from the Spending Review document from October last year:
1.89 As well as new opportunities and rights, the Government will assist new providers by improving access to the resources they need. The Spending Review announces that:

  • the Government will direct around £470 million over the Spending Review period to support capacity building in the voluntary and community sector, including an endowment fund to assist local voluntary and community organisations. As part of this, the Government will provide funds to pilot the National Citizen Service and establish a Transition Fund of £100 million to provide short term support for voluntary sector organisations providing public services. The Big Society Bank will bring in private sector funding in addition to receiving all funding available to England from dormant accounts;
So, when the government is cutting the NHS budget so that some people are being denied treatment; while the government is cutting local authority funding so that social care budgets are being slashed and vulnerable people are not getting the care they need, while all of this is happening because "there's no more money", we learn that there is more money, but it is being used to maintain Lansley's reputation with his right wing chums by creating a market we do not need. Brilliant!

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