John Lister, Health Emergency, looks at the dangers facing the NHS and calls for the left to take defence of healthcare more seriously.
If you thought some of New Labour’s health “reforms” were bad, just wait till you see what the new right wing Coalition has in mind. The announcements on the new Government’s policies have been drip fed on an almost hourly basis since the coalition was lashed together, and now fill more than two A4 pages with bullet-points, even before any of the details are spelled out.
On health, the Tories are by no means the only reactionary element: they seem to have found genuine soul-mates. The Cleggies, like the coterie of a school bully, are egging the Tories on, and pressing for even bigger cuts and greater fragmentation of the NHS into a competitive market system.
Of course the packaging is different: Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has slammed the brakes on the controversial NHS London plans to “reconfigure” London’s hospital services, giving the impression that the new Government is tearing up the agenda set by Lord Darzi. However, he is also making it clear that he is not trying to stop “work that is already in the implementation stage.” An article by him in the Daily Telegraph banged the point home: “Unfortunately I cannot re-open previously concluded processes, nor halt those that have passed the point of no return, with contracts signed or building work started.”
For too long the left in England has lagged way behind local communities and the general public in committing real energy to campaigning on the NHS. We have a new Government to fight: let’s have a new attitude from the left, and a new willingness to get stuck in. A good start would be supporting the Keep Our NHS Public AGM, which takes place on 12th June. See http://www.keepournhspublic.com
*To keep up with news about the NHS, visit http://www.healthemergency.org.uk/