“Every political decision is ideological & Rishi Sunak – a Prime Minister who is twice as rich as the king – will continue to make decisions based on a system of capitalism, and continue to starve our NHS of funding and resources.”
By Kate Osborne MP
Now that the Tories have installed Rishi Sunak as the new Tory Prime Minister – our NHS may well be one of their first victims.
Liz Truss lasted just 44 days as Prime Minister, yet her actions in that short amount of time caused untold damage to our economy and country. Rishi Sunak has been chosen for us by Tory MPs – but we all know that the new PM will not mean a change from Tory planned cuts to our NHS and public services.
At the time of writing 3 Prime Ministers, 4 Chancellors and 3 Home Secretaries in the space of just 115 days – each one of them putting the needs of big business and the wealthiest ahead of our communities.
Last week at PMQs I asked the then Prime Minister about privatisation – highlighting that privatisation never works – it hasn’t worked for Royal Mail – and it hasn’t worked for the NHS and I highlighted the damage Jeremy Hunt did to our NHS.
Liz Truss had no answer of course – but ridiculously her one line response accused me of being ideological.
The next morning she resigned.
If it’s ideological to oppose cuts to vital public services to oppose privatisation and stand up for workers, then of course I am ideological and make no apologies for it.
We all know the Tory ideology – run down our public services, starve them of resources to make them cheaper to privatise and give to their mates to make money from. Nowhere is that more evident than our NHS where decades of privitastion by stealth has led to billions going into the pockets of privateers at the expense of patients – profit being put over public health and our communities.
Every political decision is ideological & Rishi Sunak – a Prime Minister who is twice as rich as the king – will continue to make decisions based on a system of capitalism, and continue to starve our NHS of funding and resources.
So back to Jeremy Hunt – and his attempts to reinvent himself as a saviour of the country when his term as Health Secretary did lasting damage to our NHS.
Our new chancellor sold off our NHS Blood service when he was the Health Secretary. He sold our NHS blood supplier – Plasma Resources UK – to Bain Capital, a US company for £230million.
Bain Capital then sold it for £820m – the NHS Blood service now has an amber alert with just 2 days of some blood supplies.
Hunt gave the US medical centre chain Virginia Mason 12.5 million to teach NHS hospitals about safety on the basis they were “probably the safest hospital in the world” – a few months later they failed their inspection.
Hunt oversaw a company jointly owned by the Department of Health lose more than 700,000 pieces of medical correspondence – including records and cancer test results. This cost 6.6 million but disgracefully harmed more than 1700 patients – Hunt was criticised for a conflict of interest and for trying to cover up what had happened.
Another error saw 450,000 women not receiving invites for breast screening with Hunt telling parliament 270 women may have died as a result.
So many deaths as a result of privatisation and the running down of our NHS.
Fast forward to now and our NHS is in crisis, with many more deaths every year from the impact privatisation has had. A recent report by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine found that at least 4,519 patients died as a result of crowding and 12-hour A&E stays in England in 2020-2021.
This was the stark warning this weekend from Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, who said the government is “living in a fantasy land” if it believes it can cut funds to the NHS without endangering patients.
I spoke at the launch of We Own It’s new campaign to end privatisation and save lives – their campaign carrying out research that clearly links preventable deaths to austerity – on the same day we saw widespread media reports of people dying in ambulances whilst they waited to get into hospital.
This campaign is much needed – people need to have clear facts on the devastating impact privatisation is having on our NHS.
We must also tackle the false narrative that because of covid and the backlog we need to use the private sector to bring down waiting lists – we know this just isn’t the case- the more the private sector becomes involved, the worse the situation becomes as capacity from the NHS is reduced and private companies cherry pick easy and lucrative cases.
Therese Coffey the current Health Secretary (who knows how long for) is lobbying Jeremy Hunt to give the NHS even less money! Who does that? Most Secretaries of State lobby the Chancellor for more money for their departments, not less – a clear continuation of the attempts to drive down our NHS and leave us reliant on a US style system of insurance based health care.
The BBC at the weekend reported the NHS is at a gridlock, unacceptable levels of maternity care leading to 45 preventable deaths in babies at one health trust. Through covid Boris Johnson said he was happy to see the bodies pile high – now we are seeing the bodies pile high through Conservatives neglect of our vulnerable.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, this weekend also said the government is “living in a fantasy land” if it believes it can cut funds to the NHS without endangering patients.
Privatisation has led to billions of pounds being taken in profit for private companies at the expense of services and has led to increased deaths from treatable causes
We must put a stop to this.
We need to ensure people know what is happening in our NHS – this deliberate destruction of our services and we must demand the NHS to be completely renationalised.
‘We Own Its’ new campaign and ‘Your NHS Needs You’ are fantastic campaigns demanding the NHS be renationalised, arming people with facts and working with celebrity voices to ensure the message reaches a wider audience. SOS NHS are also carrying out vital campaigning work and I will be speaking at their conference on the 12th November.
There are so many parts of our NHS that are desperate for investment, but if that investment just goes into the pockets of privateers we will never deal with the backlog, the millions waiting for routine operations, the severe delays in ambulance waiting times or the crisis in staffing.
We can’t go on like this – our NHS will not survive much longer if we do not start reversing the damage that privatisation is doing.
People need a government that will tackle the cost of living crisis that the Conservatives have caused – not a continuation of their cuts to the NHS and public services and policies that leave millions living in poverty.
Instead of yet another Prime Minister chosen by Tories – Truss should have called an election. That is what the country needs – A change of direction, a new Government.
If Sunak cared about the country he would now call a General Election.
I hope that we get a general election soon – but whenever we get one – we need to fight to end NHS privatisation and save lives and we need to do it now.
That fight cannot be concentrated in parliament – we need a movement behind us – every one of our communities demanding the NHS puts their needs ahead of profit.
‘Your NHS Needs You’ are launching the next steps in their campaign to do just that to create a movement calling for renationalisation – I will do all I can within the constraints of parliament – but we need all of you to get involved and join the Movement to Renationalise the NHS!
- Kate Osborne is the MP for Jarrow and a regular contributor to Labour Outlook. You can follow her on Facebook, twitter and Instagram.
- Support the campaign to renationalise and protect the NHS – Your NHS Needs You.