Tough on the causes of NHS privatisation

By Nicholas Csergo

NHS campaigners in the Labour Party have produced a model motion for this year’s Labour Party conference. What do we want?

We’ve had an avowed intent to include the NHS in US trade treaties, cementing existing privatisation and placing it beyond the reach of domestic law. It is now vital that we as a party directly confront the extent and root causes of that privatisation. Not only should we focus on the symptoms, such as outsourcing of clinical services, but also on what enables them, such as the corporate takeover of major decisions on the kind of healthcare system that exists in England. Particularly via a quango created by the Health and Social Care Act, whose policies pass quietly and barely reported, while the mainstream restricts its analysis to one of funding. The Health and Social Care Act itself was found by Spinwatch (whose excellent report was published in the right-wing Mail on Sunday) to have been co-authored by McKinsey & Co. 

It matters to oppose both direct and indirect corporate influence because of the revolving door that corporates regularly swing through, as the examples in the motion illustrate. We should not lose sight of how key figures in the long-term privatisation of our health service have courted our own current shadow health team. Notably McKinsey & Co partner Tom Kibasi, desperately reinventing his public image as “progressive”, as the head of the Labour-linked IPPR, and former Cameron advisor, Mark “the NHS will be shown no mercy” Britnell, currently Chairman and Senior Partner for KPMG’s Global Health Practice.

These companies’ priorities form the current Establishment healthcare policy consensus: a shift to a rump state-funded health service on corporate lines, playing second fiddle to a vastly expanded private healthcare market. In a word, Medicaid and Americanised healthcare. Labour has been central to this consensus, and electing a long-term NHS defender as party leader was only ever going to have been but the first step in making our party fully defend and restore the NHS.

The motion draws on and reinforces previous conference policy, where it has received scant or no support from the shadow health team, and it is worth proponents reading through and discussing all the links to get an idea of the dimensions of the phenomena at play, which we must reverse if we are to recover and maintain our right to access the healthcare we all need, against the current onslaught.

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