I wouldn’t be alive without the NHS, and nor would my wife, and nor would my son, so it’s a cause that’s very, very dear to my heart. Less selfishly, it’s also dear to my heart because it’s paid for by general taxation, and is free to anyone at the point of entry, and at the point of exit, and is therefore a service for everyone, regardless of their income. However, while I recognise that certain types of cost-cutting reforms may be required, I cannot trust the Tory-led government to do so responsibly. Despite David Cameron promising to protect the NHS from “top-down reorganisation,” and promising to protect frontline servicesfrom the coalition government’s swingeing nationwide programme of cuts, he and the Tories have lied.
Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill proposes exactly the sort of “top-down organisation” that David Cameron said wouldn’t happen on his watch, and is a monstrosity, as almost everyone involved in the health service recognises (see here, here, here and here for examples).
However, despite colossal opposition, the government has refused to scrap it, and is now trying to push it through the House of Lords. See here for information about the proposed privatisation that the government doesn’t want to you to see, and see here for information about Lansley’s ties to private companies eager to make money out of the NHS. And for information about how the government’s cuts are already undermining frontline services, see this report in yesterday’s Guardian.
I have covered this saga since it began, and will continue to do so, but for now I’d like merely to ask you, if you haven’t yet signed the 38 Degrees petition to save the NHS from the Tories’ juggernaut of privatisation, to PLEASE do so now, and then to forward it to everyone you know. You can share it via Facebook here, and via Twitter here.
Over 450,000 people have signed so far, and 38 Degrees (a people-led campaigning organisation, for those not in the know) would like to reach 500,000 in time for Thursday’s important meeting with Lib Dem members of the House of Lords, when legal experts commissioned by 38 Degrees will be presenting their damning findings about how the Tories’ bill WILL destroy the NHS as we know it.
I covered the legal findings in my article, “Save the NHS: Make No Mistake, the Government Plans to Privatise Our Precious Health Service,” but I don’t want to provide too much distraction right now. The findings are also here on the 38 Degrees website, and what they prove, above all, is that, if the Tories have their way, the NHS will become a heavily privatised organisation that is no longer even nominally under the control of parliament. As Jacqueline Davis, a consultant radiologist in north London, the co-chair of the NHS Consultants’ Association, and a founder member of Keep Our NHS Public, wrote in the Guardian:
They [the legal experts] found that the bill does indeed “remove the duty of the secretary of state to provide or secure the provision of health services which has been a common and critical feature of all previous NHS legislation since 1946.″ Furthermore, a “hands-off clause” will “severely curtail the secretary of state’s ability to influence the delivery of NHS care to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare possible.” They conclude the government can now wash its hands of the NHS, while the likelihood of a postcode lottery increases and local accountability decreases.
They also conclude that the bill “will increase competition within the NHS at the expense of collaboration and integration and/or make it almost inevitable that UK and EU competition law will apply as if it were a utility like gas or telecoms.” So despite the coalition’s repeated denials, this legal opinion believes that “these plans will lead to a system geared heavily in favour of private companies.”
So if you want to save the NHS, please sign the petition, and ask everyone you know to do so too.
The text of the petition is as follows:
To the Coalition government,
Our NHS is precious — we won’t forgive you if you ruin it
- Don’t break up our health service and hand it to private healthcare companies.
- Listen to the real experts — doctors, nurses and patients – when they give warnings about these plans.
- Don’t rush through massive changes without testing them properly first.
- Protect patient care — don’t cut beds, wards, doctors or nurses.
38 Degrees also notes:
Right now, the government is pushing through changes to our health service which could spell the end of the NHS as we know it. Meanwhile, a funding squeeze means wards are closing and doctors and nurses are being laid off.
Together, we can stop this and save our health service for future generations. We proved that huge petitions can help make the government back down. Now, we need to do the same again to save our NHS.
Sign the petition above to make sure that David Cameron knows how much we care about our health services.