Doctors attack Tory NHS

by Daphne Liddle

MORE THAN 100 senior doctors last week signed an open letter attacking the record of damage done to the National Health Service in England by David Cameron’s government.

In the letter, published in Wednesday’s Guardian, they accused the Con-Dem Coalition of a long list of broken promises, budget cuts and damaging legislation that has undermined the NHS leaving it weak and struggling to fulfil its purpose.

“Our verdict, as doctors working in and for the NHS,” they wrote, “is that history will judge that this administration’s record is characterised by broken promises, reductions in necessary funding, and destructive legislation, which leaves health services weaker, more fragmented, and less able to perform their vital role than at any time in the NHS’s history.

“In short, the coalition has failed to keep its NHS pledges. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act is already leading to the rapid and unwanted expansion of the role of commercial companies in the NHS.

“Lansley’s Act is denationalising healthcare because the abolition of the duty to provide an NHS throughout England abdicates government responsibility for universal services to ad hoc bodies (such as clinical commissioning groups) and competitive markets controlled by private-sector- dominated quangos.

hitting patients

“In particular, the squeeze on services is hitting patients. People may be unaware that under the coalition, dozens of Accident & Emergency departments and maternity units have been closed or earmarked for closure or downgrading.

“In addition, 51 NHS walkin centres have been closed or downgraded in this time, and more than 60 ambulance stations have shut and more than 100 general practices are at risk of closure.

“The core infrastructure of the NHS is also being eroded with the closure of hospitals and thousands of NHS beds since 2010. Mental health and primary care are faring no better, with both in disarray due to funding cuts and multiple reorganisations driven by ideology, not what works....”

The letter goes on, outlining the harmful changes that most of our readers are familiar with.

As the doctors say, these changes are driven by the Tory free market ideology — which most leading Liberal Democrats share. This is effectively the complete dedication to the worship of money and profit.

To them it is immoral to pass up any opportunity to make a profit and they are willing to sacrifice the health and even lives of those who cannot afford to pay for the healthcare they need.

Sickness and treating it, to them, is a commercial opportunity so the principles of the NHS are abhorrent to them. They want to introduce a system here like that in the United States where if you are working class a serious illness or accident is a financial disaster that can wreck you family.

Already they are saying that after the election, whichever party or coalition wins, they will be forced to introduce charges for visiting a GP because GP surgeries are on the verge of bankruptcy — due to the changes introduced by Lansley’s 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

That would be a death sentence on hundreds of thousands of people impoverished by the austerity measures of the last five years.

The obvious alternative is to repeal that Act. Abolishing all the Private Finance Act contracts would also help to keep NHS money from draining into private pockets.

Scrapping Trident and withdrawal from Nato would release more usable funds. Let our Ministry of Defence be strictly for defending this place and not for invading and intervening in other countries.

There are many ways to keep our NHS alive and healthy but we are going to have to fight tooth and nail to get the next government to implement them. If that is a Tory-dominated government we stand little chance.

We will have to fight for each hospital, each Accident & Emergency unit, each ward, each GP surgery and each clinic — and probably over and over again.

Even more importantly we have to fight this evil ideology of Mammon-worship with the ideology of socialism, of collective care and responsibility.

In the short term we must fight to make sure we do not get a Tory-dominated government after the election — and that means voting Labour no matter what. Even with a Labour government we will still have to fight to make it restore the NHS. But, with all its faults, Labour is the only hope for the NHS.