Boots Joins The NHS Privatisation Drive

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CHEMIST giant Boots wants to breach the NHS system by bringing GPs and consultants into its stores as part of an alleged drive to bring the NHS onto the high street.

What is actually happening is that the multi-billion monopoly is finding yet another way to add to its profits from rents and business for its pharmacies by assisting the government to get consultants and doctors out of NHS hospitals.

Boots said it was in talks with several Strategic Health Authorities about setting up Boots NHS diagnostic clinics and Boots weekend GP surgeries.

The move comes after Labour government ministers made their plans public in January to move care away from hospitals and into the community.

No doubt, Boots will seek to link up with private treatment centres to supply them with patients, for a commission, and then seek to introduce a scale of charges for its GP and consultant diagnostic services, before it completely privatises its ‘services’.

Where Boots goes many other High Street businesses are keen to follow from supermarkets to clothing stores. They all want to make money out of the NHS, and they all have an eye on the profits that a complete privatisation of the NHS will bring to big business.

Boots and the other private health monopolies will all be welcomed into the NHS by the Labour government.

This government has publicly declared that it intends to demolish the system of general hospitals and turn to care in the community.

It declares that at least one third of people who use Accident and Emergency Departments have no need to – that they could be treated on the spot or at home by health practitioners of one kind or another. Hospitals should be places for the seriously ill only, all the rest can be treated at home, or visit a consultant or GP at Boots or somewhere like it.

Labour has brought the private sector into the middle of the NHS where it has been given choice contracts to carry out the simplest NHS procedures.

It has handed 80 per cent of the NHS budget to Primary Care Trusts, so that they become the purchasers of heath care, with instructions that they purchase health care in the private sector.

It has loaded up the NHS hospitals with debt and brought in a payment by results scheme that has helped produce massive deficits totalling over £1 billion in the NHS Trusts.

So while the NHS is being ruined and sacking thousands of staff – 30,000 nurse graduates cannot get jobs along with 17,000 junior doctors, while thousands of Indian doctors are being sent home through a change in their working regulations – the private sector is being rewarded and fattened with block payments, and the NHS Trusts and workers are being ruined.

Then there is the issue of the government’s ad in a EU journal putting the management of the Primary Care Trusts and their £60 billion budget up for sale to the privateer sector.

Now there is the Boots announcement.

Enough is enough. The TUC trade unions and the NHS non TUC trade unions, the RCN, BMA, and RCM, have formed an alliance to fight NHS privatisation.

These organisations are meeting the government health minister tomorrow. It is clear that they will get no satisfaction from her.

They must meet as a body and call a national day of action in which hospitals will take what action they can, from strike action with emergency cover to protests, and the rest of the trade union movement will take strike action.

They must tell the Blair government plainly that the day of action will be to show the power of the trade unions and their unity with professional workers in the NHS.

They must add that it will be followed by an indefinite general strike of all trade unions to stop Blair’s privatisation of the NHS by bringing the government down and going forward to a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies to defend and develop the NHS.