AS the NHS celebrated its 75th anniversary yesterday former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair launched his latest campaign for complete privatisation of the health service.
Blair spent his time as prime minister throwing the NHS open to the privateers when in 2006, he welcomed 11 private healthcare providers into the ‘NHS family’ and promised them the chance of a stronger grip on the NHS.
It was Blair along with his chancellor Gordon Brown who took the Public Finance Initiative (PFI) and massively expanded it, encouraging speculators to finance hospital building programmes, that saddled these hospitals with massive debts and legally binding repayments agreements at usurious rates of interest.
Hospitals across the country are still saddled with massive debt repayments – NHS accounting figures showed that NHS trusts spent a combined £2.14 billion in debt repayments in 2019/20 (the last year figures were produced) and that overall the NHS is still on the hook for £50 billion to the international speculators. Some hospitals spend more on PFI debt than they spend on drugs.
Blair, in a new report, is again demanding ‘fundamental reform’ of the health service. Blair, who should be indicted for war crimes over the murderous invasion of Iraq, insists that what is needed is a ‘new partnership between the private health sector and the NHS’ – a new partnership that would include ‘co-payment options’ which would allow patients to pay for quicker treatment or to ‘co-pay’ for treatments that the NHS does not fund.
Co-payments mean that a patient would be charged a proportion of the treatment normally provided free under the NHS in order to jump any waiting list.
It is popular in the US where medical insurance companies make their fortune out of insuring for medical treatment.
These giant US health insurers have long been desperate to get their hands on NHS funds, and Blair is eager to continue the job of opening the door to them and bringing in a fully privatised health service.
For those procedures which are not normally funded by the taxpayer, Blair is pushing ‘co-pay’ which means health service cash would be handed to private healthcare providers for private treatment.
To facilitate the transfer of NHS funds into the pocket of the privateers Blair proposes that everyone is given a ‘Personal health Account’ on an NHS app which would contain all their personal data and health records. This would allow ‘consumers’ (Blair wants to turn us all into consumers of private medicine not patients under a free NHS) to ‘provide access to a wider range of approved but non-NHS funded services’.
To achieve his goal of the complete destruction of the NHS, Blair insists it requires a ‘brave political leadership’. The man Blair has in mind to lead smashing up the NHS is his devoted admirer Keir Starmer, who recently pledged a ‘Blairite on Steroids Government’ to carry out the job of smashing the trade unions and privatising the NHS.
Every worker knows what is at the heart of the crisis facing the NHS. The PFI programme of Blair and Brown has cost the NHS billions, followed by the deliberate underfunding of the service by subsequent Tory government savage austerity cuts.
Systematic cuts to NHS funding, along with wage freezes and derisory pay offers that leave nurses and doctors struggling to survive as the cost of living spirals out of control, forcing thousands to leave has been a deliberate policy by the Tories.
This policy is fully endorsed by the right-wing Labour leadership, which supports the claim that capitalism cannot afford a fully funded NHS, to create a crisis in the health service to pave the way for the private leeches to move in.
The NHS is the greatest gain ever made by the working class and despite all attempts to smash it, workers are prepared to defend it to the end against all the attacks by the Tories and the right-wing Labourites.
The defence of the NHS demands that workers force the TUC to act and call a general strike to kick out the Tories, replacing them with a workers government and socialism.
This is the only way to celebrate the creation of the NHS.