Forum discusses situation in the NHS

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At our November Forum meeting Tony O’Sullivan, paediatrician and vice chair of Keep Our NHS Public, led a panel discussion (with Pam Zinkin and FrancesBradley) on the current situation in our National Health Service. There are one third fewer beds in the NHS than in Germanyand there is 50 per cent more staff in Germany than in the NHS.

He explained that there are two main ways in which the NHS is under attack: underfunding and privatisation; In general, we are being asked — remain or leave the EU— to have the US health system or the EU countries’ system which is closer to our NHS.

There have been bits and pieces of privatisation since the 1980s, and more recently the Coalition government had used the banking crisis to underfund the NHS and other services.

The end result is that the NHS is £30billion a year under-funded and that is why there are big patient waiting lists and staff shortages etc. Targets in Accident and Emergency are not met, cancer treatment targets are down, 18 per cent of NHS budgets goes to private companies, e.g. over £1 million to Virgin. Trusts are sending patients to private hospitals to remove them from waiting lists…. so private companies get 30 per cent of their income from the NHS.

Boris Johnson’s statements that a government led by him would protect our NHS must be questioned — especially as there have already been discussions with Trump’s US about future contracts.

The austerity policy, homelessness and the “hostile environment” policies of the government have meant that 600,000 people are excluded from care.

The main questions from members In the Q&A session were on trade deals (being discussed in the general election campaign).

The panel explained that the government is in control of NHS contracts, which are subject to competition on the open market. 7.1 per cent (£10 billion) goes to private companies, e.g. Boots dealing with hearing aids.

Also companies can sue the NHS, e.g. Virgin sued the NHS for £2 million; and Ryhurst (a subsidiary of Rydon, the company involved in the cladding which exacerbated the Grenfell Tower fire) is suing Whittington Hospital over cancellation of a building contract. Trade deals set up parameters for trading, i.e. the US can refuse the trade proposals of the UK, if the UK refuses the trade proposals of the US — e.g. an increase in the cost of pharmaceuticals.

This entry was posted in Health, News, Social care.
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