Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Clive Peedell and the NHS, another reason in London if you love NHS to vote People Before Profit

Global Neoliberalism and the consequences for healthcare policy in the English NHS
Clive Peedell (IAHPE 2009)
“Services are coming to dominate the economic activities of countries at virtually every stage
of development, making services trade liberalisation a necessity for the integration of the
World economy”1
International Chamber of Commerce1
“The commodification of public space has now become an aggressive Blairite objective”
Roy Hattersley, Labour MP (quoted in the Guardian, 7th November 2005)
“All public services have to be based on a diversity of independent providers who compete
for business in a market governed by Consumer choice. All across Whitehall, any policy
option now has to be dressed up as “choice”, “diversity”, and “contestablity”. These are the
hallmarks of the “new model public service”
John Denham MP, former Health Minister quoted in 2006
According to former Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, the creation of the NHS was:
“Labour’s greatest achievement. It is a working example of the best interests of the people in
this country. It is the most popular institution in Britain”2
Neglect of the NHS was a principal cause of the Conservative government’s downfall
and a major issue that helped New Labour mobilise mass political support for a landslide
election victory in 1997. Labour’s election manifesto in 1997 warned that only Labour could
“save the NHS” and a decade of New Labour in government has resulted in the largest ever
sustained increase in healthcare spending in the history of the NHS. The King’s Fund has
since reported that significant improvements have been made in quality of care, with “huge
progress” in the reduction of waiting times and “more and better services”3
However, the reform of the NHS has been described as “Labour’s greatest domestic
political challenge over two terms in power” 4, with NHS reforms proving to be highly
unpopular both within and outside the mainstream Labour party. In 2001, David Hinchcliffe,
the Labour Chair of the Health Select Committee warned that if pushed to their logical limits,
the reforms could amount to “a complete betrayal of everything that the Labour Party stood
for” and “would cause outrage within the mainstream Labour party circles”5
. At the 2005
Labour Party Conference a resolution was passed that attacked the Government’s move
“towards fragmenting the NHS and embedding a marketised system of providing public
services with a substantial and growing role for the private sector”6
 and in April 2005 more
than two thirds of signatories to a 1997 statement in The Times backing Labour’s policies on
health announced that they would not do so again.7
The Government continues to deny systematic piecemeal privatisation of the NHS
and are always quick to point out that healthcare remains “free at the point of delivery”.
However, despite the rhetoric, it is clear that a market-based approach has become central to
healthcare delivery and the role of the private sector is expanding. Labour MP, Michael
Meacher summed this up well recently8
“Equity, equal rights according to need, public accountability, a professional standard of care
and integrity are being replaced by targets, cost cutting, PFI top slicing of public expenditure
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