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28 April 2021

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Private sector is stealing the NHS

Kick out the Privatisers! photo: Mary Finch

Kick out the Privatisers! photo: Mary Finch   (Click to enlarge)

Heather Rawling, Leicester Socialist Party

The private health sector is busy gobbling up NHS money and greedily seeking more. The privatisation of the NHS is gathering pace even though the private sector has failed to deliver on test and trace and PPE during this awful health crisis.

According to the Financial Times, in the early days of the pandemic, government money to the tune of 400 million a month shored up private health providers. The deal paid all their costs, including debt and interest. Spire Healthcare 'grew' its NHS revenues by 50% during 2020. So, rather than the private sector helping out the NHS, it was the NHS that helped out the private sector!

Two-thirds of the capacity paid for in private healthcare was unused. Now that deal has ended and a new 10 billion package has been negotiated with virtually the whole private healthcare market.

With 4.7 million people waiting for treatment in England - 387,000 have been waiting for more than a year - this new deal is to allegedly reduce the backlog. But the private health providers have disclosed that they will prioritise their private health patients because they are more lucrative.

The chief executive of Spire admits that longer waiting lists encourage people to take out private insurance. So they are being paid to reduce the waiting lists, but their business model prefers that the lists remain long to encourage people to pay for private health care!

The private sector, encouraged by the government, is stealing the NHS from us. An urgent defence should be mounted by the trade union movement. The Trades Union Congress should organise demonstrations to build solidarity for NHS workers.

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The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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