WITH the appointment of Simon Stevens as the new head of NHS England, the Tory-led coalition have put in charge of the day-to-day running of the health service a man whose entire career has been dedicated to privatising the NHS.
Stevens has moved seamlessly from his present job as the Global Health President for the giant US private healthcare firm United Healthcare, to his new position where he will be utilising his experience to drive forward the privatisation of the NHS and turning it into a wholly private health system on the American model.
Stevens has a long history as a full-time fan of health for profit and the commercialisation of the NHS.
Back in the days of the Blair government he became the chief advisor to Blair and the right-wing Labour health minister Alan Milburn.
Stevens was widely seen as the author of the Blairite NHS Plan, which in 2000 set course towards increased privatisation and market-style reforms of the health service.
This plan introduced Foundation Hospitals that were at the heart of the Mid-Staffordshire scandal, the concept of polyclinics, which were designed to pave the way for the closure of district general hospitals, and bringing private venture capital into the NHS.
He pushed the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), where private sector finance was used to build, operate and manage NHS hospitals, and which has led to huge profits for the private companies and bankruptcy for hospitals built and managed under the PFI.
The second area Stevens promoted was the growth of ‘public-private partnerships’ whereby the private sector provides services funded through the NHS.
This opened the door to the sharks of the huge private health companies that were circling the NHS to grab billions of pounds of the health budget.
Milburn resigned from the government in 2003 and Stevens followed him a year later.
Stevens went directly from government advisor into a senior executive position with American United Healthcare, the largest company in the highly profitable US health insurance industry.
The only conceivable reason why the giant US firm would take on a humble British government advisor is that he had influence over politicians and a clear strategic view of how to grab the richest pickings in the NHS for the privateers.
United Healthcare did not bother trying to introduce any health insurance scheme in Britain, a not very profitable business precisely because of the NHS; instead, it made directly for the hundreds of millions of pounds in the budgets of the commissioning bodies of the NHS, doubtless aided by Stevens and his inside knowledge.
Having carried out the job of introducing privatisation into the NHS as an advisor to the Blair government and then moving on to guide United Healthcare along the path of exploiting this situation, Stevens has now turned full circle and returned to government to complete the job he started in 2000, that of fully smashing up the NHS.
Unison head of health, Christina McAnea, is quoted as saying she was ‘somewhat concerned’ at his appointment. The unions should be more than just a little concerned.
Hunt and Cameron have put Stevens in place to do the job of turning the NHS into an American-style private health care system where if you can’t pay you don’t get treated.
There is only one way to prevent the destruction of the NHS and that is the unions stopping just being concerned about it, and starting to seriously fight it to defeat the privateers and their government.
Every closure, every cut in service and every attempt at privatisation must be met with a campaign of strikes and occupations.
Above all, the TUC leaders must be forced to call an indefinite general strike to bring down this government and replace it with a workers government that will defend and develop the NHS by putting an end to capitalism and bringing in socialism.