TORY Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock outlined the new government White Paper in Parliament on Thursday pushing a complete reorganisation of the NHS, breaking the NHS into local regions. This will mean that in richer areas people will get treated and in poorer areas they will receive inadequate care. The new reorganisation of the NHS will also give private companies access to NHS funds.
Hancock told Parliament on Thursday: ‘The new approach is based on the concept of population health. A statutory Integrated Care System (ICS) will be responsible in each part of England for the funding to support the health of their area.’
The term ‘population health’ was not coined by Hancock. It has been borrowed from the privatised health system of the United States of America. In the US, under the American system of ‘Population Health Management’, those with sufficient health insurance get treated and those with no health insurance are left to die. So it is not just a case of survival of the fittest but survival of the richest.
And it is this Americanised system which the Tories are seeking to impose on the UK. The plan is to carve up the NHS into 42 areas. As a result, the NHS would cease to be a National Health Service but instead each region would have its own funding and its own standard of care. Under the Tory plan, each of the 42 regions will have its own ‘Integrated Care System’ (ICS). These will be local bodies given the power to make their own decisions about the health of the local population.
Each ICS will have its own budget and its own board of directors with the power to decide whether services should be outsourced to private companies. The bulk of the NHS annual budget of £140bn a year is to be handed over to these boards where private companies will be represented.
Hancock said: ‘At its heart, it’s about population health: using the collective resources of the local system, the NHS, local authorities, the voluntary sector and others to improve the health of their area.’ (News Line italics) The key word here is ‘others’ and by others he means all manner of private company bosses.
So NHS leaders will be on the boards of ICSs, GPs will be welcomed on to the board and local council leaders as well. However, the boards will also be made up of private company bosses, the bosses of Serco, Capita, G4S and the like. No doubt Virgin Care Limited will also get their seat on the board.
And the role of these ICSs is to make ‘efficiency savings’ with ‘financial incentives’ already being set up called ‘shared savings schemes’ and in which ‘savings’ will be cuts.
This NHS re-organisation proposed in the White Paper by Hancock attacks the very founding principles at the heart of the NHS. If the trade unions and Labour Party allow this reorganisation to go ahead, the NHS will cease to be a Nationalised Health Service, and will be fragmented into regions with no nationwide standard of care.
In 1930, the Socialist Medical Association was set up to campaign for a national health service, and its proposals for a comprehensive, free, and salaried medical service run by local government became official Labour Party policy in 1934.
In 1948, Labour minister of health, Aneurin Bevan, on 5 July launched the NHS on three core principles: That it meet the needs of everyone; that it be free at the point of delivery; that it be based on clinical need, not ability to pay.
However in 2021, Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathan Ashworth did not oppose Hancock’s proposal to smash up the NHS. In fact after Ashworth’s response, Hancock replied: ‘I will take that as cautious support. I am very glad that the honourable gentleman leaves the door open for yet more enthusiastic support in the future.’
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unite union took the same line, offering cautious support for the sweeping Tory reorganisation. The British Medical Association (BMA) also gave its cautious support.
This is a great betrayal of the NHS by both union leaders and the Labour Party and it is a betrayal of the 66.65 million people of the UK that rely on the NHS from the cradle to the grave.
This Tory dismantling of the NHS must be stopped in its tracks. Union members must call their leaders to account, and demand all-out action to bring this Tory government down. If their leaders won’t, they must be kicked out and replaced by a revolutionary leadership. An attack on the NHS is an attack on us all. The entire strength of the working class must be mobilised in a general strike to defend it.