Following the 1948 Public Health Act the Secretary of State for Health had a legal obligation to provide universal health care.  In 2012, by passing the Health and Social Care Act, the Coalition Government removed the duty to provide universal heath care and have enshrined in law instead the right of the Secretary of State for Health to develope a marketised, insurance based healthcare system.  Six years on and Drs and Nurses on the frontline tell us that the NHS is being privatised, contract-by-contract and right under our noses.

Image by kind permission of: NHS Solidarity
So where's the saving made when contracting out chunks of the NHS? Surely, an organisation attracting such fantastically motivated staff, outsourcing is a distraction and adds another tier of management. On top of the extra beaurocratic cost, there's also the reality that some of the money spent on buying in healthcare goes straight into the pockets of the owners of capital who, quite naturally, want a slice of the action. 
Managers, spending their days hopelessly trying to decide between competing healthcare suppliers while sick patients stuck in Ambulances are treated in the hospitals privately owned car parks, must be agonisingly difficult, but this is what a marketised healthcare system involves.  Privatisatisation of the NHS is unwanted, unnecessary and, worst of all, failing the public miserablly, but it doesn’t need to be like this.


Professor Allyson Pollock is Director of the Institute of Health and Society

If in 1948, after being bankrupted by two World Wars, the UK could afford to provide Universal Health Care, why is it today then, as the sixth largest economy in the World after France, that we are told that the Government cannot afford a publically financed Health Service?  And why is it that the Government conditions us to expect that the only way forward for the NHS is to systematically outsource healthcare contract-by-contract to private companies? 
The argument that the UK can't afford the NHS is in my view mendacious myth put about by Government PR men selling the lie to unwitting NHS Managers that the only way to save the NHS is through the miracle of private enterprise.  NHS Executives are torn between their belief in the provision of Universal Healthcare enshrined in the 1948 Act and the certain knowledge their increasingly lucrative existence is dependent on the inexorable shift towards a dog-eat-dog marketised healthcare system that has removed, by law, the duty of the Secretary of State for Health to provide Universal Healthcare for all.

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