I didn’t think I had much shockability left at the way our current shameful crop of politicians have not just let our NHS slip away, but colluded in every stage of the ‘slash, trash and privatize’ project.
As someone said last night,
“we need to stop talking about how to save the NHS and start talking about how, and how soon, we can re-create it.”
I’ve seen The Great NHS Heist before and, if you’re the kind of person who follows blogs like this one, you probably have, too (but here’s a YouTube link, in case you haven’t).
I was one of a group of frightened, angry people from my town who went to watch it again last night, because Dr Bob Gill was coming to do a Q&A afterwards. You see, we’ve been talking to nurses and doctors, and other NHS staff, on the picket lines, not to mention trying to use the remains of our NHS when we’ve been ill and it’s really coming home to us what’s happened, and how urgently we need to force some action.
Fools rush in
But that’s not why I’m angry. Five years ago, like hundreds of thousands of others, I was out campaigning for a Labour government that would have the guts to reinstate and protect our NHS. Politicians seeking to save their fat salaries wiped that off the agenda. Now, the remnants of the Labour Party chunter on about how expensive the NHS is, and how that nice Mr Streeting and that clever Mr Starmer are going to do something clever with insurance and private provision, and that it’ll all be okay. That is why I’m angry.
One of the more arresting moments in the film is right at the start, when we’re told that the suicide rate amongst older people dropped dramatically in the run-up to the launch of our NHS. For the first time, people who were sick or disabled due to age related problems did not have to choose between burdening their families or “bowing out early”.
Other memorable points in the film are those that demonstrate what we did have: our NHS, the best in the world to date, was the most efficient, in terms of both health and cost that the world had ever seen. In the United States, where they have an insurance system (such as we are now being forced into) the cost per person of health care is far higher, and yet thousands die every year of curable illnesses and remediable accidents, because insurance companies act like insurance companies – that is, they dodge taking on patients with expensive problems and charge too much to the people they do take on, so that people who are short of money and desperate for help don’t have health insurance.
This is where our politicians – of whatever Westminster Party – are taking us. How dare they claim they can save money by means of more outsourcing, more contractors, more profiteers? We know, and they know, that’s not true — and yet in 2020, this government, without significant opposition, passed the law that laid our NHS wide open to exploitation and dismemberment for profit.
Do not forgive, do not forget. Your grandchildren’s lives could depend on the quality of our fightback now.
During the COVID emergency, this government shelled out billions to contractors who were supposed to be helping us through, offering precisely the kind of ‘help’ Streeting and Starmer are suggesting, they brought us inappropriate PPE, ventilators that didn’t work and software systems that when it came down to it, did nothing useful whatsoever.
Why are so many of our trade unions up in arms now?
Don’t ask that. Ask why our government does not understand that what people want and need – all people, everywhere, is decent health, housing, education and public utilities and a living wage for the work they do – and all those things are what we are not getting, because all our politicians are “pro-business” now, meaning pro-profit, anti-people. So pro-business that they even nodded through the laws that would allow business to buy into what was our NATIONAL Health Service.
When they say “business friendly”, when they say “attract foreign investment”, they mean depress wages, corrode job-security and encourage a high turnover of staff, so that employees don’t have an annoying “organizational memory” of how things should be. That’s why the nurses, the doctors, the teachers and all the public service workers are so angry.
Support the workers, support the strikes, and – as was suggested at that meeting last night, harangue the politicians, phone in to radio talk shows, take every route you can find, and tell them – tell them again and again until they start listening. When they suck their teeth and say “oh, it’s so expensive…”
“Phone up LBC, phone up Talk Radio, and tell them: you are talking nonsense. You are paid to talk nonsense.“
We can afford a proper NHS, publicly owned and free at the point of use. We know this because the evidence is out there. A proper, NATIONAL Health Service, is very obviously going to be cheaper and more effective than your MP’s mates running contracts for profit.
Demand full NHS reinstatement. Don’t settle for anything less, and demand it every day, all the time. Anything else results in people dying in the streets. It really does. If you don’t believe me, check out how it’s going in the US of A.
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