|The News Line: Editorial
Friday, 11 August 2017
Tories secret plan for fire sale of NHS land and a mass closure of NHS facilities!
DETAILS of the secret Tory plan for a ‘fire sale’ of NHS land and buildings emerged yesterday following an analysis carried out for the Labour Party of Department of Health data on NHS-owned land ‘deemed surplus’ and therefore ripe for flogging off to property speculators and developers from all over the world.
In March 2017, a report by Sir Robert Naylor was published which reviewed all NHS property and estates and concluded that the NHS must adopt ‘a more commercial approach’ to selling off its assets – assets which Naylor called a ‘source of untapped value’.
Naylor’s call for NHS land and other assets to be sold off to the privateers was music to the ears of Theresa May, and the Tories immediately embarked on carrying out a closely-guarded plan to put it into action.
Now the full scale of this land grab has started to emerge with the revelation that the Department of Health has secretly doubled the amount of NHS land it intends to sell. 1,300 hectares of NHS-owned land is now up for sale, half of which has been kept secret because of the ‘sensitivity’ involved.
What is so sensitive about this fire sale is that the Tories are not talking about empty land that the NHS has no use for, but land that is presently occupied by hospitals and other NHS buildings and facilities. So far this land is composed of 543 plots and out of these 117 are currently being used for clinical or medical purposes.
What is not known, however, is the details of 63 of these plots as data has been held back by the Tories because of ‘issues of sensitivity’, in other words these plots contain functioning hospitals and the Tories are terrified of the reaction of local communities to the news that their hospital is being shut down and the land sold off to build luxury apartments for international speculators.
The value of the sites the Tories are intent on flogging off in the first stage of their plan, is staggering. The most valuable site on the list of ‘surplus’ buildings is the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital in Stanmore, London, which has a market value of £38.75 million.
The Ida Darwin Hospital in Cambridge is valued at £20 million while the two sites of Broadmore Hospital in Berkshire are valued at £27.75 million. Papworth Hospital in Cambridgeshire is valued at £10 million. In all many hundreds of millions of pounds worth of NHS land and property will be up for sale by the Tory government in a desperate attempt to pay off the national debt run up bailing out the banks ten years ago by selling off and closing down the NHS.
At the same time the Tories will see in this fire sale not just a means of raising money and providing a multibillion hand-out to the speculators, but as a further step in destroying the NHS and selling off every hospital and facility in the land to the privateers.
Responding to the exposure of the Tories’ secret plans the Labour shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, said: ‘The NHS needs an urgent injection of funding to make up for years of Tory underfunding, but the answer is not a blanket sell-off of sites which are currently being used for patient care.’
At a time when the NHS has been deliberately bled dry by the Tories, to the extent that NHS waiting lists for patients getting treatment has hit the highest level in over ten years with over 4 million patients waiting for care according to the Nuffield Trust health charity, calling for the government to inject more money into the NHS is a complete diversion from what needs to be done.
The immediate answer to the planned sell-off is for the Labour Party to state unequivocally that it will renationalise any NHS or public land sold-off by the Tories without any compensation, and that it will reopen any closed NHS facility.
The working class, which fought for the establishment of the NHS, must demand that its leaders in the trade unions immediately defend this vital service by organising a general strike to kick out the Tories.
We must advance to a workers’ government that will nationalise without compensation the banks, the major industries, the drug companies and the land under a socialist economy that will guarantee the right of free health care at the point of need for all.
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