By Lucette Davies
A recent BBC documentary, I Can Cure You, showcased exactly why we should all fear the privatisation of our NHS. Although it focussed on online therapy programmes for people with mental health conditions it raised important points about privatisation per se. Including, most importantly how when NHS service provision is inadequate, people become desperate and fall into the hands of the private sector.
The BBC has screened many documentaries on the NHS particularly since the pandemic started. Some of them have shown shocking examples of unnecessary suffering and/ or bad practice. But few have explained why this is happening. Statements on a documentary about inadequate funding or staffing levels, don’t really explain anything.
The truth is really that our NHS is under attack by those that seek to make profit from our healthcare. The private sector now runs large chunks of our local NHS services and they are doing that for the sake of profit. They are not working with other providers in our hospitals they are competing against other providers. Our NHS no longer maximises the amount of healthcare we get for the available funding. It now maximises the profit.
So as this BBC documentary demonstrated, the patients become consumers. The aim of the game is to make profit, not make people well. But as consumers, when we go to buy a new car we can find out a lot about each make and model. We get to make an informed choice. But if somebody tells a patient that there was a fabulous new treatment for their depression or their migraines, without a medical degree, they can only go by what they are told.
The BBC documentary showcased private providers using quite aggressive marketing techniques to attract their ‘consumers’. It showed the desperation of people who are sick and unable to get care and how that made them vulnerable to this marketing. The people interviewed discussed examples of really poor and sometimes dangerous practice. This is what happens when patients become consumers. There should be no place for this in our NHS.
So why are our politicians allowing the drive for profit to interfere with the health of the people who elected them? After the last few weeks we have seen quite clearly how MPs are engaging in many other highly lucrative roles often aided by their political activity. We also know Matt Hancock received a £10,000 donation for his leadership bid from the head of a private equity firm that owns Vanguard Healthcare. Jeremy Hunt received £20,000 donation from the owner of a private dental provider. Iain Duncan Smith has an ongoing position on an advisory board of Tunstall Health Group. And, numerous MPs have personal investments in private healthcare.
So before you start saving for your hip replacement or paying for a medication you once received from the NHS remember why you are doing this. You are doing it because MPs are destroying your NHS to drive you towards private medicine in order to line their own pockets or the pockets of their colleagues.