THE government is set to turn the screws of further NHS privatisation on the NHS with its plans to invite private health insurance companies to run the Primary Care Trusts (PCTs).
The PCTs hold 80 per cent of the NHS budget and are responsible for the purchasing of health provision, with special emphasis on purchasing it in the private sector, and the referring of patients for treatment into the private sector.
Under the government’s plan, international health insurers such as United Health will be able to contract for the work of the PCTs, from where they can hand out contracts to their business partners all over the capitalist world.
For the first time in Britain, since the end of the Second World War, international health monopolies will be in charge of the provision of health care for NHS patients, and also in charge of deciding which services they should or should not be referred to.
Being capitalist concerns and not public services their choices will be determined by profitability and not patient care.
The government also intends the Department of Health to hand over the contracts of ‘failing PCTs’ to the health multi-national privateers.
The PCTs are to become the shell within which the private medical industry is to take hold and seize the NHS budget.
Also tomorrow, Health Secretary Hewitt is set to announce that failing cottage hospitals are either to be handed on a plate to the private sector to run for profit, or to buy for peanut prices, as part of an arrangement to establish joint ventures.
The government is now speeding up the NHS privatisation process.
The NHS budget is to be handed over to the multi-national health combines at the same time as the financial crisis of the capitalist system and the Blair government is growing.
Chancellor Brown has revealed that the future for health workers is one of wage cuts, that is two per cent wage ‘rises’, well below the government’s inflation rate and far below the real rate of inflation.
Brown has also revealed that the health and the education budgets are set to receive the same deflationary treatment.
In fact, with interest rates set to rise, crashing the housing market by pushing up mortgage interest repayments and credit card debt, unemployment is also set to rapidly rise, and with it the need for big cuts in government expenditure.
It is clear that faced with this situation when it will have to cut wages, benefits and cut government expenditure on health and education, the government is preparing to uncouple itself from the NHS and hand it over to the privateers.
This is what the private insurers who are now queuing up to take over the PCT’s are also preparing for.
All of the major trade unions are meeting this summer. Their members and their families and the whole of the working class need the NHS.
The time has come when the great trade unions must start fighting to defend the NHS and prevent its privatisation.
There must be emergency resolutions put down at all of the trade union conferences, that the TUC and all the trade unions must ally themselves with the NHS professional organisations, the RCN and the BMA, to tell the government that they will not tolerate NHS privatisation.
The trade unions and the TUC must call a one day general strike to demand that the private sector be put out of the NHS and NHS privatisation halted.
If the government will not listen, as is its habit, this must be followed up by an indefinite general strike to bring the government down.
The trade unions must push forward and bring in a workers’ government that will carry out socialist policies.
As far as the NHS is concerned this means evicting the privateers from the NHS and getting the funds for its further development by the nationalisation of the drug companies and the banks.