No mercy for NHS warns Cameron

by Daphne Liddle

MARK BRITNELL, a member of Prime Minister Cameron’s team of advisers, let the cat out of the bag on the Con-Dem planned health reforms. Last week it was reported in a blog that Britnell told a New York conference of private healthcare executives: “In future, the NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer.”

He added: “The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of this will be in the next couple of years.”

Britnell also told the conference that the reforms would offer a “big opportunity” to the for-profit sector and suggested the NHS could be improved by charging patients.

This aim is in line with the underlying ideology of the extremist free marketeers, for whom everything is up for sale and nothing matters except profit and loss. It is the ideology that lies behind the politics of both the Tory and Liberal parties — and “New Labour”.

Basically it is the policy of the ruling class in this country and they will implement it one step at a time unless the working class organises to stop them.

Unions expressed their outrage. Rehana Azam GMB national officer for NHS said: “What a disgrace to say the NHS will be shown no mercy.

Britnell saying that ‘the NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer’ has revealed the real intentions of the Tory Party with the NHS bill before Parliament.

The Tory Party has no mandate for this nor does it have the votes in the Commons without the Lib Dems MPs. The Liberal Democrats have to pull the plug on the Bill.

All they need to do is to look at Southern Cross where unsustainable rents put 31,000 elderly residents in care homes at risk of being made homeless, to see what the private sector will do to the NHS.”

Christina McAnea, head of health at Unison, which represents more than 450,000 health workers, said: “David Cameron is taking the ‘national’ out of the health service and turning it into a fragmented, money-spinning operation.”

But the unions will have to do more than just express outrage and trust to the Lib-Dems to sink the Bill. Cameron took two days to respond to growing public outrage before he tried to claim he had never heard of Britnell.

He denied all knowledge of Britnell even though the adviser — the head of health at accountancy giant KPMG — was invited to join a group of senior health policy experts in Downing Street earlier this month.

The “kitchen cabinet”, which includes former NHS executives and the former Department of Health permanent secretary Lord Crisp, was assembled by Cameron’s special adviser on health, Paul Bate.

“He [Britnell] is not my adviser,” Cameron told MPs, insisting he had “never heard about this person in my life” before it emerged on Sunday that Britnell told a conference of executives from the private sector last year that future reforms would show “no mercy” to the NHS.

Clearly Cameron is embarrassed by the leak and is having to back down a little on the headlong drive to turn healthcare in Britain into a profit-driven market. The current “pause” in pushing the Bill through Parliament — for “consultation and consideration” — may have to be extended. Political commentators are speculating we have until next September to sink it — and the coalition with it.

But for all Cameron’s pretence and prevarication, Britnell has spelt out this Government’s long-term aims. Even if this Bill is altered a little there will be more changes in the pipeline.

When Labour’s Ian Lavery asked Cameron whether he intended to sack Britnell, he turned the tables on Labour by pointing out that Britnell was involved in drawing up the party’s flagship blueprint for health reforms in 2000 and held down a number of NHS roles before being appointed the director general of commissioning under the Labour government.

“I was slightly puzzled because I had never heard of this person in my life,” Cameron said in response to Lavery’s question at Prime Minister’s questions.

“He is not my adviser, but I did a little bit of research and it turns out he was an adviser to the last government. He helped draw up Labour’s NHS plan in 2000, including the role of the private sector, he was appointed by Labour as the chief executive of the South Central strategic health authority and when [Ed Miliband] the leader of the opposition was in Cabinet, Mark Britnell was director general of commissioning in the NHS.”