Profits before people

“You almost forget what you are doing is providing healthcare”

I realised yesterday why I have a creeping sense of déjà vu about the NHS sale to the private healthcare providers.

It’s the 21st century equivalent of the 18th century Enclosures. MPs and their cronies are taking something which is publicly owned and which benefits everyone; they are taking it into private ownership for private profit, and who cares about peasantry?

Who benefits?

When you ask “who benefits” the answer is MPs and Peers …

206 parliamentarians have recent or present financial private healthcare connections
142 Lords have recent or present financial connections to companies involved in healthcare

… and the head honchos at the BBC, which is why they woefully under-reported the issue:

A number of senior BBC staff have links with the healthcare industry…. [but] it is not the intention to suggest … financial interests were a factor … What is far more plausible is that under pressure from the Conservatives, the BBC buckled, they hoped that appeasement on the NHS would protect the BBC from any further swings of the axe.

Profit before patients

People say “so long as it’s free to patients, what does it matter?” It matters because we aren’t customers bringing in money, we are expenses and costs.

The interests of the owners will come first, and that means putting profits before people – here’s Max Pemberton in a clinic that’s NHS-branded but privately-owned:

“The manager of the clinic, however, was clear: they wouldn’t get paid for this approach … Discharging him back on to the streets was the solution. I was horrified: if I discharged him from the service, we were sending him to certain death.” (My emphasis)

And here’s how it works in the US, the land of free enterprise and expensive healthcare:

“At the Executive level, what’s most important is meeting Wall Street’s expectations. You almost forget that what you are doing is providing healthcare”. Wendell Potter. (My emphasis)

That, in a nutshell, is why it’s naive to say “so long as it’s free to patients, why does it matter?”

Why we need not-for-profit healthcare providers

One final thought. Network Rail is a not-for-profit company. Why? Because the investigations into the Hatfield and Potters Bar rail disasters discovered that profits were put before passenger safety at Railtrack, and the way to make locomotives safer was to remove the profit motive.

We KNOW profit doesn’t work when safety is at stake.

The 18th Century landgrab

If something is owned by everyone, that does not mean it’s owned by no-one; it’s not just lying around waiting to be stolen by the rich and the greedy. As I said, this has happened before, and here’s what happened then:

rich landowners used their control of state processes to appropriate public land for their private benefit. This created a landless working class that provided the labour required in the new industries developing in the north of England… this is perhaps an oversimplification, that the better-off members of the European peasantry encouraged and participated actively in enclosure. (My emphasis again).

Welcome to the 18th century everyone. This government’s making fools of us all.

This was first published here as a note on Facebook.

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