By Lucette Davies

The survival of our NHS depends on how much we understand the pros and cons of privatisation. Boris Johnson, and Eastbourne’s own MP, Caroline Ansell, have said clearly that the NHS is not being sold off. But privatisation of healthcare has been gathering speed ever since the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

Many people have said that they don’t mind who delivers their healthcare as long as its free at the point of need. So, this column will talk about why we should all care desperately that private corporations are kept out of the NHS.

NHS hospitals are now a conglomerate of different healthcare providers working under one roof. When services are put out to tender the contract will be handed to the organisation who says they can run the service for the lowest cost. They can keep costs low by employing less staff, using cheaper equipment, paying staff less or failing to treat enough people. It’s not a recipe for quality healthcare.

With so much private sector involvement our healthcare system has become inefficient. We are wasting money on funding private sector profit margins and losing money through resulting inefficiency. We are also losing billions in the costly bureaucracy involved in putting services out to tender, assessing bids and awarding contracts.

A video of Boris Johnson re-emerged this week where he talked about the NHS as being a monolithic, monopolistic structure that was failing the people. The language he uses makes the NHS sound like a cumbersome archaic institution that people were clinging to preventing improvements. In fact, he was simply trying to sell the concept of privatisation.

Countless studies that have examined the performance of healthcare systems around the world. have shown the same result. That is that the single public sector provider funded through taxation gives the most efficient and fairest system possible. Such a system is not going to be perfect, or beyond improvement but it gives us a strong foundation on which to build a world class healthcare system.

The only virtue of handing out NHS contracts to the private sector is that we allow people to make profits from our need for healthcare. And our Government is trying to hoodwink us into believing this would be in some way better. Probably because it is their mates in big business who get the contracts.

Over this pandemic we have seen mammoth contracts handed to private corporations. Matt Hancock was found by a Court to have acted unlawfully but still nothing changes. This week we have watched in horror as it was revealed how David Cameron used his position to lobby on behalf of his employer. Our Government is rife with cronyism as MPs use their positions to gain personal wealth and wealth for friends and families.

But they need us to be ignorant of the politics and facts in order to get away with it. If we can raise public awareness half the battle will be won. They do after all work for us and rely on our votes to keep them in office. The power of the people is greater than that of the people in power.