Defend NHS health care – stop the NHS becoming a business

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‘ONE million NHS patients have been the victims of appalling care in hospitals across Britain, according to a major report,’ screamed the capitalist press yesterday, adding that ‘bad cruel nurses’ were responsible for the neglect and degradation of patients.

With these words, the campaign begun in the US by the major health insurers and the drug companies – supported by Tory MEPs and Tory MPs, to keep any publicly-organised health care scheme out of the US by branding the NHS as ‘Orwellian’, ‘cruel’, and a ‘mistake that must be corrected’ – was spread into the UK itself.

The major US health businesses, which have already got a foot-hold in the NHS through Labour’s privatisation policies, now want to see a Tory government returned that will privatise the NHS.

The NHS is now a full-scale, all-out battle ground with the health of millions of workers and their children at stake.

The capitalist media was focusing on a report by The Patients Association.

This demanded an urgent review of basic hospital care after highlighting accounts of what it calls ‘appalling’ NHS standards. The Association claims that elderly people are often left lying in faeces and urine and were not helped to eat.

The group’s president Claire Rayner, an ex-nurse, called for ‘bad, cruel nurses’ to be struck off.

However, their report focuses on just 16 cases from relatives of patients in England, which the association says are just a few of ‘hundreds and hundreds’ of similar reports from across the UK. In fact, the NHS is treating tens of millions of patients every year.

The report adds that nearly all the accounts were concerned not about treatment, but basic nursing and domiciliary care.

The association also noted the latest in-patient survey found 43% rated the service they received as excellent, a significant increase over the previous year.

It stressed that the 2% who deemed the service poor had not changed between 2002 and 2008, and that, while the proportions were small, they still represented thousands of patients. It also focused on an earlier report from the Healthcare Commission into ‘detailed grave lapses in standards of care’ at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust, where it is estimated between 400 and 1,200 people died because health care was collapsed.

Healthcare at Mid Staffordshire was collapsed when the NHS Trust management organised a £10 million cut in expenditure which saw hundreds of nurses sacked. The result was hundreds of patients died so that the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust could become a business.

The NHS under Labour is becoming a business where thousands of nurses are sacked, where there is a colossal shortage of midwives, where hospitals are closed or put under private management, so that the NHS ‘business’ can register a profit of over £1bn.

Patient care comes a poor second to making a profit! It is not a question of cruel nurses but of Labour introducing a cruel and crude privatisation into the NHS! This is to allow the big US medical companies to consume the NHS budget and make billions in profits.

Labour is organising the NHS to be simply a front for the commissioning of hospital and GP healthcare from the private sector, handing over to it tens of billions of pounds from the health budget without any control or inspection.

It is Labour that is collapsing the NHS, and there is now an attempt to make hardworking, efficient and loyal nursing staff the scapegoats for the health debacle that is being created.

That this is so, is now recognised by the BMA and in theory by the major trade unions, who over a year ago organised the NHSTogether coalition to halt the privatisation of the NHS. The BMA at its Annual Representative Meeting in June decided to launch a campaign by organising a national demonstration and rally.

This is what must be done. All those who are attacking the NHS must be answered in the best way possible – by a mobilisation of millions of workers and youth to defend it, insisting that the NHS will stay and it is the Labour and Tory privateers that will go!