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The NHS and privatisation

Written By: - Date published: 12:14 pm, December 10th, 2019 - 18 comments
Categories: Austerity, boris johnson, Brexit, Economy, Free Trade, Jeremy Corbyn, politicans, uk politics - Tags: , , , , , ,

Former Conservative Prime Minister John Major in 2016 commented that the NHS would be as safe as a pet hamster in the presence of a hungry python if Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Iain Duncan Smith rose to power following Brexit. 3 years on and those three have risen to the top of the Conservative Party. How safe is the NHS?

Today Boris Johnson had a train wreck of an interview today, where he refused to look at a photo of a 4 year old with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on a pile of coats on the floor of a Leeds hospital. Rather than acknowledge the photo, the Prime Minister snatched the phone and put it in his pocket. Bizarre behaviour. And the actions of someone rattled and on the back foot.

Image result for Jack Williment-Barr
4 year old Jack Williment-Barr with suspected pneumonia forced to lie on a pile of coats on the floor of a Leeds hospital. 

Recent polling surveys have shown that the NHS has overtaken Brexit as the main election issue. This makes the terrible interview by the Prime Minister even more concerning for the Tories. 

Secret documents released by Opposition Leader Jeremy Corbyn show that in talks with the US the topic of access to the NHS has come up. This is consistent with the approach taken by the US in other trade negotiations. Back in 2016 when negotiations for The Trans Pacific Partnership (TTPA) trade agreement between pacific nations were in full flight, this issue came up. In New Zealand there was concern that subsidised prescriptions would be put at risk due to conditions being pushed by the US in the trade negotiations. 

Because the Conservatives have said they stand for a hard Brexit, rather than retaining a customs union with the EU, they need to find significant trading parters. The US is the obvious one. But the US don’t just give away easy trade deals. Healthcare and medicine is highly profitable, and the US would want a piece of that action in any trade deal.

The NHS is well loved by the British public. It is seen as something which makes British society decent and civilised. That the NHS is now stretched and badly underfunded is seen as a national outrage. Fears of even further privatisation of the NHS due to a US trade deal has unsurprisingly made the NHS the number one election issue.

With only 3 days to go until the election, we can expect to hear much much more about the NHS before polling opens.

To support Momentum campaign for a Corbyn led Labour Government in the UK you can give your support here.

18 comments on “The NHS and privatisation”

  1. NZJester 1

    The Tory party in the UK has been underfunding its health system as an excuse to now try and privatize it. It seems very similar to what National was doing here when last in Government and was likely trying to set up our health system to be sold off as well. 



  2. greywarshark 2

    If you are suffering from ennui over Brexit – take a break before you return to the fray.

    There needs to be some deductive reasoning in the UK, the home of Monty Python.   All pollies should watch this as a cautionary tale.


    Did they ever study more than the names of the philosophers at their respective universities:



  3. Wayne 3


    You are well named. You have absolutely zero evidence that National ever intended to do that. You are just making it up.

    I know for certain that no one in National has even remotely suggested that.

    The only health debates we ever have in NZ is the level of public funding, and the number of operations. Apparently there are fewer elective surgeries done per year by the current government than the previous government. That is the sort of debate we have here. Not your ludicrous proposition that National intends to sell off the health system.

      • David 3.1.1

        Said Pete Hodgson, Labour Party MP, way back in 2007.

        • Incognito


          • greywarshark

            Pete Hodgson in 2007 said (from the link above):

            National has revealed its prejudices of wanting to privatise health care and has set a path that would see them Americanising the New Zealand health system, Minister of Health Pete Hodgson said today.

            “Its is astonishing to me that after eight years in opposition they still have no policy, only a discussion document. But a careful reading shows that they have resurrected their privatisation agenda, especially when it comes to elective surgery,” Pete Hodgson said.

    • joe90 3.2

      Crown Health Enterprises


    • Graeme 3.3

      Oh, so your metric for health 'progress' is the number of elective surgeries performed.

      There's a hell of a lot more to health outcomes than replacing worn out hips on the public purse.

      My partner had to wait two years to have her gall bladder removed and was in a pretty bad way by the time it came out in 2011.  She's now off work, waiting for urgent surgery to remove a grapefruit sized cyst from the same place.

      Tightness, and trying to shunt patients out to private, has really great health outcomes.

    • Grafton Gully 3.4

      You decided to volunteer for the territorials and "served as an infantry Major in 3rd Auckland (Countess of Ranfurly's Own) and Northland Regiment Royal New Zealand Territorial Army, later specialising in military intelligence".  Service in the NZDF affects the health of service people and their targets.  But you imply this is not a "health debate" in NZ ?



  4. Peter Bradley 4

    The claim that the NHS is a cherished institution in the UK is utter bollocks and belied by the fact the the UK electorate has retained some form of Conservative government for almost 10 years and appears likely to give it another 5 years by the end of this week. This is despite the Conservatives consistent and open hostility to properly funding the NHS and other welfare services for the elderly, poor and vulnerable. Ordinary UK citizens – middle and working class – who have nothing to gain from reduced public services and lower taxes on the wealthy, are nevertheless convinced that this is the only valid and correct way to manage their economy. 

    Until it actually happens to them or someone they care about and they are lying in a trolley in a corridor or waiting too long to be assessed for a treatable disease most voters in the UK – and most Western democracies for that matter – need little convincing of the importance of making sacrifices to protect the wealthy and powerful.

    We have a similar story here in NZ where every week somebody dies of treatable cancer because our public health system is underfunded. But no-one dares to connect the dots to NZ's private health industry and it's market driven requirement for frightened and vulnerable middle-class fee paying patients. Without deliberate government reticence and under-funding of the public health system the private health insurance and medical industries could not survive in NZ. 

    Any mention of broadening our tax base or increasing government revenue is met with howls of outrage and disgust while rural mothers give birth to their children on the side of the road and entrenched child poverty remains untouched – even under a Labour led government.

    That voters willingly accept and choose this type of economic structure without question is a credit to the propaganda of the center right. When things get really bad for the poor and working class all you need to do is tell them it's all the fault of immigrants and you get voted in again without a whimper of protest. Which is exactly what the whole Brexit charade is about. It's sickening.

    • greywarshark 4.1

      'treatable cancer' – is that cancer that can be put into remission for a longish period by the state paying large sums of money and neglecting others who aren't terminally ill?   What about the needs of children, the ill from poor households, and most of the young adult cohort, apart from the always growing older cohort who want to live like princes till they drop.

      • Gabby 4.1.1

        Well greysy, the illnesses of poverty can best be treated through prevention can't thy.

        • Brigid

          Well no. Because Greywarshark doesn't suffer from those illnesses.

          • greywarshark

            Brigid you have no idea what you are talking about when you make comments about me.    An attempt to discuss openly important matters in a rational way, not just from the point of view of someone who demands largesse for themselves, or someone they know and doesn't care about others who are even more needy, gets nowhere with the self-centred with high personal expectations today.    The others, poor, it's their fault they suffer, why should I care about them. It seems to be the way we handle the unfair distribution of resources and opportunities in this oh so kind country with big hearts and flowers when it come to something big enough to emote about.

  5. swordfish 5

    Recent polling surveys have shown that the NHS has overtaken Brexit as the main election issue.

    Fears of even further privatisation of the NHS due to a US trade deal has unsurprisingly made the NHS the number one election issue.

    Latest polls suggest not:

    Survation (5-7 Dec 2019)

    Q: What would you say is the number one issue for you when it comes to deciding your vote ?

    Entire Sample

    Brexit 29%

    NHS 17%

    Economy 5%

    Only Labour voters choose the NHS as their Number One issue (and even that's a relatively close-run thing: Labour voters: NHS 29% / Brexit 22%) … With Tories it's Brexit 48% / NHS 7% … with LDs it's Brexit 39%  / NHS  12%.


    Meanwhile, the latest Deltapoll suggests increased focus on the NHS doesn't necessarily favour Labour:

    Deltapoll (5-7 Dec 2019)

    Q:  Which of the following do you think would be best for the National Health Service ?

    Entire Sample

    (i) Conservative government led by Boris Johnson with Matt Hancock as Health Secretary … 44%

    (ii) Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn with John Ashworth as Health Secretary … … … 34%

    Don't Know … 22%

    In Marginal Seats it's even worse: … 54% sayTories better for NHS /  31% Labour.


    • greywarshark 5.1

      I'll say a little prayer for the UK who need to be as bold as Boris and vote for Jeremy.    I fear they will not want to take the unpleasant medicine that would enable them to hold onto the NHS and work out how to manage good health on less.   They will probably go for well furnished waiting rooms and hospitals, glossy reports, and wonder drugs, for those who can afford it all, coming from privatisation.

         And more neglect of the unglamorous masses.  That is a word of disgust to Conservatives because it reminds them of socialism which attempts to deal with the problem of there being large numbers of people who are continually being robbed of opportunities for livelihoods and forced into random work, little pay, hovels, sickness, depression and drugs.  Just like in the good old times, degradation and 'Gin for a penny, dead drunk for tuppence'.

  6. Brigid 6

    A film by John Pilger on the NHS.

    The more you privatise the more waste you add to the system. Prior to Thatcher's reforms (which were just the beginning and have been ramped up considerably since) the administrative costs were estimated at less than 5%. It's now running in the order of 20%.


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