Peter Bach's powerful new film, "Sell-Off" maps out the steady privatisation of the National Health Service which is going on right now. Nobody listening to the evidence of a range of practitioners on the film (which is freely available on You Tube) can be in any doubt that this coalition government has accelerated the process of outsourcing of NHS services started by the Blair government, using the vehicle of the Care Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and Foundation Trusts. Despite this, MPs and the government at continue to insist that the NHS is not being privatised. The campaign to stop the run-down of St Helier hospital in my home town of Carshalton is typical: here, both local LibDem MPs Despite running an energetic 'save St Helier' campaign in the local media and on the High Street yet they both voted for Andrew Lansley's 2012 Health & Social Care Act including Clause 75 the wording of which requires commissioners to put out to tender everything that could be provided by an organisation other than the NHS. They also voted for clause 119 which gave Lansley power to close any hospital without resort to any local consultation. In fact Paul Burstow produced an amendment which would have transferred that power to local commissioners, (which would still have been totally unsatisfactory given the compromised position of some many commissioners) but voted against his own amendment on the day, a breathtaking U-turn even by LibDem standards. The web site http://www.nhsforsale.info shows that the rate of outsourcing by Commissioning Groups in the NHS is accelerating steadily with new contract awards in England running at over 5 to 1 in favour of private providers. The chilling reality is that for years large US corporations have been eyeing up public services across the world as they represent a huge potential source of profit.
Thanks to the combined efforts of all three main parties, they are now able to do this. This is not so surprising when the blog Social Investigations* has found over 200 parliamentarians have recent past or present financial links to companies involved in healthcare and all were allowed to vote for the Health and Social Care Act. For Tom Brake and Paul Burstow to now be campaigning to 'save St Helier' is rather like foxes running a petition to repair the chicken coop!
Moreover the nasty so-called Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) which is currently being secretly negotiated behind our backs will open the door to US transnationals even wider. It is the largest bilateral trade deal ever negotiated and threatens to make privatisation of the NHS irreversible by giving the profits of corporations precedence over national lawmakers. Secret courts would grant American multinationals, or any firm with American investors, the power to sue the government if it ever attempted to take privatised health services back into public ownership. The government has refused to use its veto to exempt the NHS from the deal as it could do, and despite repeated denials the junior government health minister Lord Livingstone confirmed on 1st September this year that the NHS was part of TTIP.
What can we do about this? It's only happening because people are either not aware, or if they are, are too apathetic to do anything. Nye Bevan the Labour minister who steered the creation of the NHS through parliament in 1948, said at the time "The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it". QED, but he would be turning in his grave to see the wilful surrender to foreign predatory capitalists which has been engineered not just by the Tories and LibDems but by most of his own party who meekly allowed arch-privatiser Tony Blair to set the ball rolling.
Watch and share the film. Spread the word. Write to your local paper. Pester your MP. Check if he or she is on the list of parliamentarians with vested interests in privatisation. If so blow the whistle and make their lives hell. Otherwise they will sell off our most popular asset right in front of our very eyes.