Recently, there has been an outburst of junior doctors in the NHS threatening to strike. This is rather telling. Whether or not you agree that the strikes are justified, it indicates that dark circumstances are perhaps befalling Britain’s National Health Service; a true national treasure since its foundation in 1945. There is never any smoke without fire. And this certainly rings true for this particular scenario.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has tried to shut the floodgates of dissenting junior doctors, by promising an 11% pay rise to keep them happy. However, as more and more opt to strike, it will be harder to keep the dissent from spreading between doctors.
What’s going wrong in the NHS?
Simple. Lack of funding means less effective treatment, longer waiting times for patients, more difficulty in getting an appointment, and longer hours and an ever increasing workload for doctors; meaning they can’t do an effective job. In short, the NHS is plummeting.
The NHS, as we once knew it, is gradually fading away from its former glory. Despite pledging to spend £8 billion on the NHS, prior to the General Election earlier this year, the Conservative party have been austere in their handling of the NHS, withholding vital funds to keep it prosperous.
While many doctors and healthcare workers have been bullied into silence by a climate of fear, some have plucked up the courage to speak up. One of these is Dr. Clive Peedell, a cancer doctor and co-leader of the National Health Action party, who admitted: “this government has spent the past four and a half years starving the NHS of cash“.
Of course, whistle-blowing protection regulations have been vigorously promoted, thanks to Sir Robert Francis, who has raised awareness of reports and complaints from Doctors – on the declining service of the NHS.
Why is this being allowed to happen?
To make way for privatization of the health service. The method to make privatization acceptable is simple: defund it, making it massively under-perform; until privatization becomes a miraculous solution, and the only option to save it is to sell it off to private contractors.
And it is evidentially going this way. Several privatisation deals have taken place in recent years, including the largest one in history taking place in March earlier this year. Several assets were sold off to private overseas contractors, totalling a staggering £780 million of sales overall. Naturally, this was justified to help improve the service performance. To prevent widespread dissent however, it was covered up by the Jeremy Clarkson scandal at the time; when he was controversially sacked from Top Gear. This couldn’t have come at the better time for the government, as it distracted the public’s attention from the healthcare system being largely sold off. Moral of this story – If there is a massive news story being perpetuated by the media, it is likely used as a distraction to cover up a real issue which could affect people’s lives.
And it could go further than this. Many have protested about the impact which the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) would have on Britain, if the bill allowing them to invest was passed. For those who aren’t familiar with TTIP, it is a series of agreements between the EU and the US, allowing more diverse investment between both sides. This has led to fear over how Britain would be a sitting duck to American investors, as part of the EU. While this is reasonable, the UK has been one of the biggest advocates for TTIP being implemented; meaning that even if the EU refused TTIP, the British government would still welcome American investment with open arms.
As dire as it sounds, much of our healthcare system could be sold off even more; to American contractors this time.
Of course, privatization alone isn’t inherently evil; but the purpose for it being carried determines whether or not it’s done for just reasons. According to a report by the Euro Health Consumer Index in 2014, comparing different country’s healthcare systems, Netherlands and Switzerland host the most effective services in the world; in terms of waiting times, effectiveness of treatment, infant mortality, and general satisfaction from the healthcare service. They are both privatized too. Under the previous Labour government, the NHS was part-privatized – but only done so to a small extent. It was still well regulated by the government, and was still funded substantially; meaning it delivered effective results.
However, it depends on what grounds privatization is done. If it’s done to provide effective treatment to the public (as is the purpose of healthcare), then it’s not such an issue. If done for profit though: not so good. And what with a lot of whistle-blowers reporting the rising decline and worsening treatment of patients over the last few years (list can be found here), it seems that the gradual, but most likely inevitable, privatization of the NHS won’t be done for the public’s best interests.
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