We should be grateful that some Liberal Democrats still have their principles and were willing to defy Nick Clegg by refusing to endorse the Health and Social Care Bill. What both their party leader and Baroness Shirley Williams seemingly fail to understand is that nobody is interested in the devastation of yet another of our national institutions being watered-down; it has to stop. This government was elected on a clear mandate of fixing the economy – a single goal which they have failed to resolve abjectly and repeatedly. They were not elected in order to destroy higher education or to close our libraries (both of which were heritages left to us by generations of our forebears) and they most certainly were not elected in order that they might dismantle the NHS.
Time and again, governments in this country have tinkered with health and education, despite the abundantly clear fact that they have absolutely no idea what they are doing. We already have knowledgeable and experienced experts dealing with those fields: people who have devoted their lives to vocations which are dear to their hearts and to which they are committed in the long-term – not merely until the next cabinet re-shuffle or our next farcical election.
Privatising utilities in the past has, of course, made them profitable: gas and electricity, telephones, railways – all of these made far less money when they were run for the public good, back in the days when one didn’t need a line of credit in order to use them.
I am aware that the bill makes for tedious reading so I’ve “cherry-picked” the easily digestible (but hard to swallow) bits here:
• Private health care providers will be able to choose (and thus will) to take only less complex cases. This means that the NHS will exclusively get left with the complex cases and will therefore be worse off.
• Charges will be able to be introduced (and thus will) for services which are currently free under the NHS.
• Fewer services may be provided (and thus will) if Clinical Commissioning Groups deem them inappropriate to offer.
Government has clear jobs to do domestically: running our tax system, maintaining defence, managing law and order, keeping our public services operating. If they really want to play with the infrastructure then how about fixing stuff that’s actually broken: given the level of duty on petrol, isn’t it about time that a systematic programme of road repair was implemented? That way, at least people will be able to drive their sick relatives and children to the hospital, where an auditor can decide whether or not it is economically prudent to keep them alive.
As finance becomes the only imperative, we are becoming a nation where each of us is just a number, albeit a number with a percentage sign after it. Your way of life may be at risk if you do not keep up repayments, terms and conditions apply.