As the Labour Party Conference draws to a close, all eyes are now turning towards the Conservative Party Conference next week. A meeting that stands out in particular is an event hosted by right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs which claims to be discussing the future of the NHS and ‘Putting Patients First’. But of course, when delving a little deeper into the views of both the Tories and this think tank – it is difficult to see anybody they are putting first other than themselves.
On the panel are guests including Alex Wild of the Taxpayer’s Alliance – who has previously supported an NHS charge for non-EU migrants, despite non-EU immigrants being part of the backbone that keeps that very service ticking over day by day. Moreover, The Telegraph columnist Janet Daley is also attending. Daley has called for a complete breakdown of “barriers between private and public health funding.”
Worryingly, the host of the event, the IEA, have also proposed abolishing the NHS altogether. Instead of the usual Tory mantra on the NHS which includes marketisation and public-private partnerships, they advocate:
liberating the private healthcare sector such that the NHS became less and less relevant.
Despite this, the marketisation of the NHS through PFI-type deals is still arguably the main port of call for the Conservatives due to the fact that companies with links to the government have been reported to have over £1.5bn worth of NHS contracts. Nonetheless, it is concerning to see discussion on the National Health Service being led at the Tory Party Conference by those who want to scrap the NHS altogether – or at least drive it into irrelevance and let the private sector gobble up the demand.
Of course, whichever method of vandalism of the NHS they side with – it still follows the timeless technique of privatisation put forward by Professor Noam Chomsky:
defund, make sure things don’t work, people get angry and you hand it over to private capital.
It is therefore not surprising that only last year, the government signed the largest privatisation deal in history worth around £780 million. In response to this, the head of health at Unison, Christina McAnea, reminded the Tories that “there wouldn’t be such a crisis and backlog if ministers had properly invested in the NHS. Instead they’ve starved it of funds and demoralised staff.”
This is something that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also noted as he committed to renationalising the health service and scrapping private provision in the NHS. Corbyn has ensured an NHS under his watch will not only be financially secure, but free at the point of use as the creators of the National Health Service envisioned it being.
It is clear that as the NHS has been dragged further into crisis by this reckless government, it has opened the door for more radical ideas about the privatisation, and yes, even the abolition of a national institution and huge social achievement. Instead of ensuring healthcare for all as the NHS was created to do – their ideological opposition means that while the right-wing will have different opinions about what they should do with our National Health Service – you can be sure that none of them have the interest of the people at heart.