Image of Hammer and Sickle

New Communist Party of Britain

adopted December 2015

Health

A National Health Service (NHS), delivered free to all at the time of need, is an essential requirement if people are to play an active part in society.

The expectation of the working class in the post‑war period for some dramatic changes to their lives resulted in the birth of the NHS, under the post‑war Labour Government. The NHS was revered throughout the capitalist world.

It came with a price. The consultants demanded the continuation of privately paid healthcare, alongside their services to the NHS. Their demands were met.

The wealthy continued to receive their personalised healthcare; the consultants were able to continue to receive lucrative payment for this private business.

The idea of making profit from the sick continued and the NHS would be viewed by capitalists as a valuable asset later as the conditions changed.

Firstly an NHS had to be built with public taxation, and when ready the capitalists would move in; it didn't have to happen straight away, or all at once. It could be “cherry picked”.

The introduction of private healthcare insurance enabled the private sector to grow. Companies could use it as part of a salary package to some top employees. Others paid privately for health insurance, and later some would pay out of savings to get an earlier consultation and then have quicker access to the NHS, as waiting lists grew.

All public bodies were encouraged to obtain private finance to pay for major projects like hospitals with no exception. New hospitals were built and leased back. The conditions were set by the financiers. Rates were set for an agreed period, and then the financiers could increase their charges. This led to hospitals becoming more indebted and vulnerable to private take over.

Then came two changes: of NHS Trusts and NHS Foundation Trusts. These changes further loosened the ties to the Department of Health. Hospitals were now to manage their own budgets and have a layer of management with enormous power, and ever growing — at great expense and a drain on resources. A deep rift was created between management and staff and whistle‑blowers, of whatever rank, have been dealt with harshly.

As with all public bodies, another means of privatisation piecemeal was the outsourcing of catering, cleaning, portering where workers “Terms and Conditions” were savagely attacked.

Capitalists view health as a commodity, and NHS staff were encouraged to refer to patients as customers.

We regard a National Health Service as a cornerstone to our society, to treat all, when needed, paid through a fair taxation system, to give good after‑care, to prevent the spread of disease and encourage and promote a healthy lifestyle. A good NHS is essential for a healthy population and essential to a socialist society and socialist economy.

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership threatens to force Britain to complete the privatisation of the NHS. For this reason and many others we support campaigns against TTIP.

We have seen a swathe of hospital cuts, especially of accident and emergency units and maternity units, leaving some areas of the country with very sparse cover. Surviving A&E units are now under such pressure we are being told not to go there except in life‑threatening cases. Instead we are told to go “urgent care centres” for suspected fractures and other cases. This leaves us having to make a diagnosis in advance of how serious our case is and then find out where the nearest urgent care centre is.

We believe these cuts will lead to confusion and a lot of unnecessary suffering. We demand the reinstatement of adequate A&E cover and maternity care cover throughout the country so people can be treated and deliver their babies within a reasonable distance of where they live.