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For a decent health service
The Socialist Party is fighting for:
The National health Service
The NHS was one of the great achievements of the 1945 Labour government.
New Labour is systematically destroying it.
The basic premise of the NHS – that free, high quality, health care should be available to all – is being rapidly eroded.
Meanwhile big business is raking in the profits from the NHS at our expense.
Firstly, they have made a mint from the Private Finance Initiative (PFI).
Big businesses have made around £1 billion in profits just by refinancing PFI initiatives with the banks at more favourable rates and pocketing the cash!
Yet at the same time, the extra cost of private (as opposed to public) sector borrowing means that PFI costs the public purse an average of 40% more than the same hospital would built in the public sector.
In other words, PFI results in a direct money transfusion from our services into the pockets of big business.
And now, New Labour is attempting to dramatically expand privatisation of the NHS with the introduction of foundation hospitals and privately run Direct Treatment Centres (DTCs).
Up to 70% of staff in DTCs can be stolen from the NHS, leaving NHS hospitals even more understaffed.
In December 2002, the Department of Health claimed these would, "deliver value for money through robust, competitive tendering."
The truth is very different.
A leaked Department of Health memo has revealed that each cataract operation will cost £115 more than it does on the NHS, not least because the surgeons performing it will be paid £500,000 a year!
A socialist policy for the NHS would mean an immediate end to privatisation and a reversal of all the privatisation already introduced.
However, this does not mean that we just want to go back to the NHS of a decade or more ago.
The NHS needs to be democratically run with the full involvement of NHS workers and users.
It also needs to be better integrated (between hospitals, primary care, community care, social services, dentistry etc) in order to give people the best possible service.
Abolish all charges!
All charges for health care, including for dentistry and eye-care, should be completely abolished.
How could this be paid for? A socialist government would redirect money currently spent on war and occupation into the health service.
We would also take the pharmaceutical and drug companies into democratic public ownership.
In 2002, the wealth of the global pharmaceutical industry was estimated at $406 billion.
It is a closely guarded secret exactly how hefty a chunk of the billions the pharmaceutical companies make in profit comes from their sales to the NHS.
But there is no doubt that it would save the NHS billions if it didn’t have to buy drugs from the drug profiteers.
In addition, a nationalised pharmaceutical industry would direct research at finding cures for diseases and developing treatments for less common illnesses which the current drugs industry ignores – because it is not profitable to do otherwise.
At the same time a socialist government would carry out measures to increase living standards – such as a decent living pension, increased annually and linked to earnings, and the right to a job with a living wage for all.
It should not be underestimated how much such measures would improve peoples’ health.
Ill health remains a class issue – even according to government statistics, low-paid workers are almost three times as likely to suffer from chronic ill health as high-level managers.
The Socialist Party is fighting for: