June 23, 2004

It's Not Healthy

Let me begin by thanking those who have asked about the lack of posts in recent weeks. I'm blaming the job and 18hr days that have left little or no time for life, let alone blogging.

Working that much certainly isn't good for the health - which brings me neatly to my topic of the day. The Tories and Labour have been going 'head-to-head' over the health service today. Both major parties have made keynote presentations on the subject. I can understand why Labour might want to divert attention away from Iraq, but the Tories? It hardly seems credible that anyone will vote for them on a public sector spending platform when they've been campaigning for seven years on an anti-asylum, anti-European, anti-Tax, anti-just-about-everything manifesto.

It's amazing how similar the plans are. Not just to each other mind you, but to almost any NHS policy under the Thatcher government.

  • 'Choice' for patients
  • Private sector involvement in NHS services
  • More independence for the 'best' hospitals
  • An increase in spending
  • Reduced 'red-tape'
Virtually all the rhetoric is the same - 'choice', 'foundation hospitals', 'private health'. So much so that those who are in power, or want to be, seem to have lost sight of what people really want from a health service. They want it to be free at the point of need, they don't want to wait, they want it to be local. If we really believe in the NHS shouldn't we be striving to increase the standards of all hospitals so that these goals are met?

That's the truth though - both the major parties have lost faith in the ideal of the NHS. They are happy, ideologically, to privatise the NHS by using public money to increase the profits of private health firms. The Tories would go as far as to pay for 50% of all operations done privately - whether the patient was private already or not. Talk about a blatant middle class subsidy. The NHS will be lost to us within a generation if this trend continues - and it surely will - unless we, the people, actually tell the politicians that we do believe, really believe, in the service.