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October 11, 2013 / politicsbitesize

Debunking the defunded NHS

myth-nhsThe political commentator and academic Noam Chomsky recently exposed the technique that is used by governments to surreptitiously move a publicly owned institution into the hands of private industry. By cutting off vital funds to a social provision, such as health care or education, the establishment becomes unable to provide the high level of service that is expected from its users.  As Chomsky so eloquently puts it:

‘If you want to privatize something and destroy it, a standard method is first to defund it, so it doesn’t work anymore, people get upset and accept privatization. This is happening in the schools. They are defunded, so they don’t work well.’ 

It is also happening to the NHS in the United Kingdom.  In this month’s Red Pepper, Jacky Davis exposes the main myths behind the great NHS giveaway. (http://www.redpepper.org.uk/mythbuster-health-warning/)  One of the points she raises is the myth that the government has no intention of privatising the NHS:

‘Politicians assure us that the NHS will remain ‘free at the point of delivery’, but one tenth of surgeries are now privately owned, and contracts worth millions of pounds have been given to the likes of Virgin and Serco. Because contractors may go on using the trusted and familiar NHS logo, patients may not even know they’re receiving treatment from a private company.

These claims also assume that how we pay for our health care is the only thing that matters. The population values the public service ethos that has traditionally underpinned the NHS. Polls show that the majority of people want local and national government to run public services, and only consider contracting out if this fails. People also want accountable health care, while private contracts hide behind ‘commercial confidentiality’. The chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee, Margaret Hodge, says that even she can’t break through their wall of secrecy.’

It is a sorry state of affairs when the people of the UK are being conned into thinking that the services that they receive are provided by our much-loved NHS. The reality is that taxpayer’s money is being used to pay private contractors to do the work that the NHS have been doing for years.  Surely if there is money to pay the contractors then there is money to fund the NHS directly.

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One Comment

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  1. Graeme / Jan 23 2014 7:03 am

    This is so true. Some privatisations happen in one big jump, but when this fails the favourite strategy of your free-market fundamentalist is to do it inch by inch – which is exactly what is happening with the NHS.

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