Peter Asquith Cowan, a local NHS and Unite Activist writes,
This year is the 66th Anniversary of the founding of the NHS. It was one of the greatest results of two World Wars. It was the central hub of Sir William Beveridge’s Report which led to the creation of the Welfare State. Now it is being surreptitiously and secretly privatised , with the connivance and full knowledge of this Government, to its discredit. The door was opened for this sneaky move with the signing of the UK/US Trade Deal, which will, “ Open the way for the wholesale privatisation of public services on an unprecedented scale.” This is now beginning to happen but in a secretive, dishonest manner.
Once the “Envy of the World” the NHS is being threatened by profit-hungry privateers, most notably, Care UK. Earlier last year, Francis 0’Grady warned us at the TUC Conference that: “Multi-national corporations – but mostly American – were circling our public services like vultures.” This was started by the Health & Social Care Act (2012) which is a paradox in itself. Its real intention is to ‘starve’ the NHS of vital funds, paving the way for privatisation and to ‘enrol’ so-called American “Experts” to come in and run ailing health authorities. Of course they are struggling if they are not properly funded. The Government’s Policy of Austerity has been a convenient smoke-screen to start this privatisation process. That is its intention. It is a re-creation of theCare in the Community policy of a previous Tory administration under Baroness Bottomley, which saw mental health care almost extinguished. This is what the Tories want. This is what they’ve always stood for.
The Government is hell-bent on starving the NHS into private hands. Implicit in this is a profit motive. The most insidious and unpalatable part of this process is the coalition Government’s pretence via the constant mantra that “The NHS is safe in Conservative hands”. Nothing could be further from the truth. Sir Isaac Newton, a great English scientist, once said: “ For every action there is a reaction.” Well, there is. People are waking up to what is going on under their noses and reacting to it. The UNITE union has been at the forefront to prevent this sly, devious privatisation process. UNITE has warned big business to keep out of the NHS. The “Peoples’ NHS” has been formed, consisting of health workers, community campaigners, and other public bodies and unions led in principal by the UNITE Union and it is gaining momentum.
The Peoples’ NHS is a campaign supported by clinicians and community groups across the UK and backed by UNITE the Union. Already there have been great victories. The George Elliot Hospital in Nuneaton has been saved and rescued from privateers. This was all a part of the ‘leverage’ strategy to keep the health service in the public sector. The NHS needs to come together and work together to stop the Tories privatising it, putting profits before people. This secretive process has been allowed to start simply because the Government did two things: (a) It continued to deprive the NHS of much needed funding, and (b) It turned a ‘blind eye’ to what was going on. Even staff in hospitals were not “Aware” about what was happening to them. However, once they realised what was happening to the NHS with full Government backing, they got together and with Community Campaigners, other unions and the UNITE Union, the “Peoples’ NHS” was formed.
This demonstrated that People Power does work. The victory at Nuneaton and at other hospitals is the beginning of resistance, a “Fight Back” against Tory ideology, and obsession with privatisation. We can win, we can defeat the Tories, but only if we knowwhat they are doing. The central theme of the NHS at it outset was that Health care should be “free at the point of contact” that it should be paid for out of workers’ contributions and it should be a “Service for all the nation” not just the rich and privileged few. UNITE will not stand by and watch any Government destroy our health service. The “Jewel in Our Crown.” We have to make the public aware of what is being done in their name. We can stop this rot, we can defeat this Government and we must Save our NHS.