I submit that the Labour Party should make a commitment to repeal the Health and Social Care Act which has been an unmitigated disaster and renew the obligation of the Secretary of State to ensure the provision of health care free at the point of use in accordance with the NHS Charter, a duty which has been abolished by this present Conservative administration.
I have worked in the NHS for over 35 years. I see at first hand the effects of the gradual privatisation and under funding of the NHS no matter what the government propaganda says.
The NHS is the highest achievement of British civilisation. It embodies the social contract between the people and government, is a highly cost effective system which is admired Worldwide. However, no system works if undermined and chronically underfunded.
There is an agenda to dismantle the NHS and to hand over billions in public resources to private healthcare and insurance companies which is well advanced. This is not a conspiracy theory, it has been discussed and written about by politicians such as Jeremy Hunt who co-authored a book recommending the NHS was replaced by a system of private health insurance on the American model. In America the largest cause of bankruptcy and homelessness is ill health and medical bills and 6 million are without health cover. The same would happen here!
Many of you will probably have heard of the Hegelian Dialectic - a problem is created to cause a public reaction and then a pre-prepared solution is proposed. It works like this, you create a crisis in the NHS by reducing funding, you make sure that the media report the human effects of that crisis on the front pages, 12 hour trolley waits in A&E departments, cancelled surgery, insufficient ambulances and then you place in the public consciousness the idea that the NHS is no longer fit for purpose and would be so much better in private hands.
The Health and Social Care Act established CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups). These CCGs are unaccountable quangos whose membership is dominated by GPs, many of whom have shares in or links to private healthcare companies but these conflicts of interest are hidden. In my own area the CCG has refused to fund the smaller hospitals where inpatient beds were used to enable elderly patients to be discharged safely from the acute hospital trust and patients with dementia were assessed and received award winning care. On top of that social care in the community has been cut due to 'austerity' and cuts in local government spending. As a result 200 beds are currently blocked with a knock on effect on admissions from A&E and scheduled surgery has had to be cancelled.
Once public NHS services are contracted out to private providers, commercial confidentiality applies which prevents scrutiny of how public money is spent by them. They have a tendency to cherry pick patients and services so that they provide those services most likely to be profitable. In the future this will mean that patients who need more complex care, who have rarer conditions and need expensive treatments may find they have to fund these themselves or will not get treatment. This is already starting to happen with many CCGs surveying the public about what services they would be prepared for the local NHS to stop funding such as speech therapy, physiotherapy, types of surgery considered non-life threatening, chiropody for diabetics etc. Most of these ideas will lead to more expense in the long run as simple conditions develop into more serious ones if not treated.