Anyone who’s been observing the politically orchestrated crises in the UK’s National Health Service over the last few years would be aware it was just a matter of time before the vexed question of ‘charges’ began to raise its capitalistic head in a service that was once free at point of need, and the pride of the British nation.
Ever since Jeremy Richard Streynsham Hunt, MP, was given the plum post of Minister for Health…
…in the right-wing Conservative government led by his old Oxford University chum, David Cameron, the good ship ‘NHS’ has been lurching unsteadily towards the rocks of corporate capitalism, it’s helm abandoned, its once-gallant crew of doctors and nurses worn and broken by disgustingly long hours and ever more appalling working conditions.
One can only ponder on the reasoning that led Cameron to appoint a man to this position who, in 2005, had co-authored a book calling for the NHS to be dismantled and replaced with ‘an American-style system’. It would seem likely that, while he could never admit it publicly, Cameron supports Hunt’s views and placed him in the ideal position to carry them through.
Hence, it’s no surprise to learn this week that at the British Medical Association’s annual GP (family doctor) conference the call went out to begin charging patients for GP appointments. While the vote went against the proposal, it can surely only be a matter of time before Britain’s GPs are forced to begin making charges, given that they deal with 90% of patient contacts within the NHS, while their funding has been eroded to less than 9% of the NHS budget.
It’s sufficient that the call has been made. Even just a few years since, the very idea would have been preposterous. The purpose of the National Health Service was to provide health care for all, free at the point of service and funded by the National Insurance contributions paid by every working individual, according to their financial ability.
Aneurin Bevan, Labour politician, son of a Welsh coalminer and a lifelong champion of working people, spearheaded the introduction of the NHS in 1948, when he was Minister for Health. He must be turning over in his grave at the injustices being wrought by this latest incumbent.
Hunt is far from being the only close buddy of Cameron’s who is determined to replace the NHS with a US-styled system of private medicine. Back in 2009, as the British Guardian/Observer newspaper then reported, a row erupted amongst Tory MPs over remarks made by a British Member of the European Parliament, Daniel Hannan, to the right-wing, US TV station, Fox News:
The Observer can reveal that leading Tory MPs – who include Cameron’s close ally Michael Gove [now, Minister for Education] – are listed alongside controversial MEP Daniel Hannan as co-authors of a book, Direct Democracy, which says the NHS “fails to meet public expectations” and is “no longer relevant in the 21st century”.
Others listed as co-authors in the book, published shortly after the 2005 general election, include shadow cabinet members Greg Clark and Jeremy Hunt and frontbencher Robert Goodwill. Clark and Hunt were unavailable for comment last night.
Gove is also one of a group of more than 20 Tory MPs and MEPs who are cited as supporters of Hannan’s views in another book, The Plan: Twelve Months to Renew Britain, published in December last year , in which Hannan and Tory MP Douglas Carswell describe the NHS as “the national sickness service”.
Both books call for the NHS to be replaced by a new system of health provision in which people would pay money into personal health accounts, which they could then use to shop around for care from public and private providers. Those who could not afford to save enough would be funded by the state.
The revelations follow a furious row over Hannan’s recent appearance on US television, in which he told Fox News that the NHS was a “60-year-old mistake” and urged Americans not to adopt a similar system if they wanted efficient, effective healthcare.”
It really is time the British people woke up to what Cameron, Hunt, and Co are up to. Given the opportunity, they’ll eventually sell off the British people’s National Health Service to private companies – most of which will be American. After all, who else will have the expertise to step in and run things – for a very healthy profit – even if patient health is hardly their top priority?
 “GPs say no to charging patients” BBC, May 22nd 2014
 “Key Tory MPs backed call to dismantle NHS” The Guardian, August 15th 2009