DAVID Prior, the new head of the NHS regulatory body the Care Quality Commission, nailed his colours firmly to the Tory mast of privatising the health service and a mass closure of hospitals, in his first main speech delivered to the private health ‘think tank’, the King’s Fund, last Tuesday night.
Prior told the conference that the healthcare system was ‘on the brink of collapse’ and that the CQC could not guarantee that more disasters like that of the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust in 2008 would not occur again in other parts of the country.
According to Prior, half the hospitals in the country are providing care that is either ‘poor’ or ‘not terribly good’ with 45 hospitals identified by him as having severe problems that go back for five years.
In particular, he singled out Accident and Emergency units saying, ‘Emergency admissions through accident and emergency are out of control in large parts of the country. That is totally unsustainable.’
Having described the ‘crisis’ in the NHS, Prior then went on to the real meat of his speech namely his solution to this ‘crisis’ – a solution which turns out by happy coincidence to be completely in line with the policies of health secretary Jeremy Hunt – namely, to slash the number of acute beds in hospitals and introduce more of a ‘market’ in healthcare provision.
So the answer to the increase in the number of people attending A&E for emergency treatment is to cut the number of hospital beds and throw the NHS open to every health privateer who thinks they can make a quick buck out of the sick and vulnerable.
This was dressed up with talk of relieving pressure on hospital A&E departments, especially from the elderly, by providing more care in the community.
He argued that, by closing down beds and complete hospitals, the money saved could be put into early intervention health schemes, which would result in fewer people going to A&E units.
The money saved through mass closures of wards and beds would be diverted into the pockets of the privateers who dominate the provision of community health projects – or into the defence budget as is already being proposed!
Despite the usual set of lies about how cuts actually improve the ‘health system’, it is crystal clear that this ‘independent’ regulator is providing the Tory-led coalition with the cover to drive forward the smashing up and privatisation of district general hospitals which are at the very heart of the NHS.
There is to be no ‘health system’ at all – the law of the jungle is to prevail, that is, the survival of the richest.
Prior is a former Tory MP who boasts on his CV that he once worked for Lehman Brothers, the giant US investment bank that went bust in 2008 precipitating the historic collapse of the international banking system.
True to his Tory banking roots, Prior is showing no concern for what is actually causing the crisis in the NHS, the massive cuts in funding and staff. His only concern is to cut the NHS down to the size that this bankrupt capitalist system can afford – which is precisely zero.
The sooner Prior and the rest of this coalition are removed by the working class and replaced with a workers’ government the better.