[Tuesday 2 February]
“We told you so!” – something Keep Our NHS Public does not relish saying. But a £687 million deal to hand cancer care services in Staffordshire to a private provider has been “put on hold”while the inquiry is held into the disastrous failure of a privatisation contract for £800million of elderly care in Cambridgeshire after 8 months because it was financially unsustainable. To say “privatisation does not work” would be an under-statement.
These successive failures in plans to privatise the NHS demonstrate that private providers are not the answer to running or improving the NHS. The answer is to ensure the NHS is adequately funded through taxes (which it currently isn’t), publicly provided, publicly accountable and free to all at the point of delivery. Instead of squandering millions in forcing NHS services to compete with private providers through “competitive tendering”. Providers who are very good at constructing attractive-sounding bids, but when it comes to it are no substitute for our NHS and never will be – their ultimate motive is making a profit, whatever the true costs to the patient and the public.
Gail Pearson is a member of Keep Our NHS Public and Cancer Not for Profit and has been fighting the cancer-care bid from the beginning:
“We are just delighted: if we hadn’t have been doing what we’ve been doing this contract would have been awarded 18 months ago and would probably have fallen over before Cambridge did.
“In the interests of patients we now hope the whole thing will be scrapped completely. Financial problems were behind the collapse in Cambridge and given the soaring demand for cancer care from this fixed-price contract, surely that will apply here.”
Gail’s sentiments were echoed by Dr John Lister, Secretary of Keep Our NHS Public:
“Will lessons be learned from this second unmitigated shambles? Let’s hope this ‘investigation’ isn’t just another whitewash. How many thousands of hours of NHS management time has been wasted and millions of pounds squandered on these dud contracts? These contract exercises in chaos have been under-funded and ill conceived by incompetent, careless CCGs. They have to stop.”
Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are 46 local groups, plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [1,2] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles. Further details: www.keepournhspublic.com
KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:
07870 757 309
 Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigely, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.
Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin
Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press
Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.
Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.
 The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models
[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.
Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.
Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]