All about Owen Smith

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Exposé on Owen Smith MP

From Alex Seed

Owen Smith MP, who is challenging Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party, has a lot of dirty linen that he does not want washed in public. Luckily, I have brought my own box of Daz.

I have it on very good authority (from someone within the Blarite Labour camp, who is disgusted by the behind-the-scenes secret-deals, funny handshakes, and distain for the voters), of the following:

1. Owen Smith is actually the original perpetrator of the challenge to Jeremy Corbyn (and has been for a very time). The agenda for the leadership challenge was set up in April! Yes, that’s right, April and not July. Angela Eagle was brought in as a ruse, to make Owen look good. Eagle actually believed that she had a chance. She had none. This was a coup d’état with only a few of the players in the know. Angela Eagle was not one of them. She was deliberately led down the garden path to make mistakes and look foolish (and didn’t she rise to the challenge). Owen Smith’s agenda during the interview with Eagle on the recent BBC news show is obvious for all to see. When Owen indicated that: “He would withdraw from the contest if Ms Eagle won more support among Labour MPs”, you could almost see him snigger. Smith already knew the agenda was set. He already knew who his supporters were and also those of Eagle. So, the interview was merely play-acting on his part.

2. Owen Smith had always intended to split the Labour Party (right from the beginning). Apparently, Owen Smith believes he can head Jeremy Corbyn off at the pass. It goes something like this: should Corbyn win, none of the MP’s will take cabinet positions (this has already been decided by those in the know). Smith believes that by doing this, it will split the party in two. This is what he wants. Smith realises that Jeremy has so much grass-roots support, that he is unable to successfully win in that quarter. However, a split party is a weakened party and he intends to take full advantage of it.

3. Many of the Blairite MP’s have been offered powerful positions and sweetheart deals, should they vote against Corbyn. It is extremely hush-hush and it does explain why so many MP’s suddenly went against Corbyn. Those who sat on the fence eventually decided to support ANYBODY other than Corbyn. I would suggest that once Jeremy Corbyn gets in, that the bank accounts and behind-the-scene deals of these MP’s are investigated. The whole system that they are involved in is so incredibly corrupt.

4. As many of you know, Smith was a lobbyist for Pfizer. As Head of Policy and Government Relations for Pfizer, Owen Smith was also directly involved in Pfizer’s funding of Blairite right-wing entryist group Progress. Pfizer gave Progress £53,000. Progress has actively pursued the agenda of PFI and privatisation of NHS services.

Pfizer is among the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies. Big Pharma seeks enormous profits over the health and well-being of the humans it serves, and these drug companies invasively corrupt the way that the healthcare industry delivers its vital services. Corrupt being the operative word.

So, why was Owen involved with an American company? Well, Owen Smith is on record as saying that: “…. Pfizer had been “extremely supportive” of his aspirations to public office”. Make of that what you will.

Well, I am sure that Pfizer would love to get their toe in the door of the British NHS and Owen is their man to do just that!

During his time as chief lobbyist for Pfizer, Owen Smith actively pushed for privatisation of NHS services. Therefore, we know that the NHS will definitely not be safe in his hands. Should he become leader of the Labour Party, it will only be a matter of time before he will use his influence to start the process for privatisation of the NHS.

What we will end up with is something akin to the American system, where you will need to show your credit card (or insurance papers), before receiving treatment. Americans (rich and poor), have to find ways of paying for their very expensive treatments, should they get sick. This is our future, should Owen Smith become leader of the Labour Party.

And, if you think things could not get dirtier, Owen Smith is a strong supporter of Trident and assiduously courts the arms industry. He is a regular at defence industry events.

This is dirty dealing, folks. THIS is what we will get should Smith rise to power. If you value your future and well-being of your family, then you must do everything you can to ensure that he cannot continue his corrupt agenda. If he gains leadership, we really can say goodbye to the NHS and a whole lot more.

Please share this message as far and wide as you can, since the people need to know what is going on.

See also The Entirely Fake Owen Smith

Cameron’s ‘Predator State’ vs Junior Doctors

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RK on social media wrote (with a little editing):

An item on the news, said that teacher assistants were increasingly being used to teach full classes, some up to 30+ hours. PCSO staff are taking over much more of the standard police work and someone I know has just left a job taking bloods on wards, after little training, left alone to do the job on her own… and paid the same wage as a hospital porter.

I believe that by stealth, fully trained, higher waged professionals and semi professionals are being weeded out of many working environments.

Perhaps (just as nurses are taking over some doctor tasks) we will eventually only find the fully qualified in executive positions and barely trained, poorly paid staff will be undertaking most of the work.

Is this part of Hunt’s plans for the NHS, with doctors supervising a collection of underpaid individuals to deliver our health service?

We are fast heading to a worker bee situation, where cost cutting determines a very basic Health Care, Education and security for the masses except for those that can afford to pay. The rich will have the very best of care, education and security… further dividing an already horrendously divided nation.

This constant undermining of skills has been happening in industry for decades, where apprenticeships have ended and Mickey Mouse schemes qualify someone in a trade, after a six week course in a tech college.

It’s the bottom line that always matters most under capitalism. Skill, pride in workmanship, ethical standards of delivery, knowledge of the tasks, are all obstacles in the way of maximising profit. Perhaps that’s why we have so little of our industrial base left.

The argument is always: ” If we can’t be competitive, then we will take our manufacturing abroad to the third world”.

They can’t do that with health, welfare and education, so it has to be de-skilled to make it competitive. It’s also an attack on organised Labour, good pension schemes and secure employment. We all have to live in fear of the sack, or a wage freeze or as Public sector workers have long known, the gradual drip of outside tendering, ripping up of service agreements and eventual wage cuts and overtime payments.

While the working population is under increasing attack, there is a mirror image… one of unbridled growth in profits, bonuses and executive pay, for those that are ruining our nation.

 

I fully recognize the point RK is making and I think most of us could add even more examples of de-skilling of the workforce, whether in the public or private sector. However, he specifically puts the question:

Is this part of Hunt’s plans for the NHS, with doctors supervising a collection of underpaid individuals to deliver our health service?

Dr Bob Gill provides an answer:

The reality is that more qualified staff are being driven out in preparation for the de-skilling that is always part of healthcare privatisation and corporate takeover. For the UK, this is mapped out in the Five Year Forward View by Simon Stevens, the head of NHS England. Stevens used to be an executive of the US based private health care company, UnitedHealth.

http://koshh.org/the-connection-between-the-junior-doctors-contract-and-the-american-corporate-takeover-of-the-nhs

Motions at the BMA conference raised similar concerns that the future training plans could reduce the standards of patient care and safety; that by de-skilling doctors, de facto ‘sub-consultants’ would be introduced who could be paid less, and be subject to more rigid terms and conditions of service; that unacceptable power would be given to local hospital managers to determine training and workforce planning; and limit the career aspirations of many hospital doctors to a sub-consultant grade.

So how does this fit with ‘The Predator State’ of the title?

It is the term used by economist James Galbraith (2008 book) to describe this phase of capitalism in which politicians have colluded with the corporate and financial sectors to privatize public services, using …

‘The state as monopoly collector of taxes and corrupt distributor of the spoils to the private sector.’

This is certainly what is happening to the NHS. Only this week, Richard Branson took over the NHS Children’s Services in Wiltshire. He will be paid by the state for that provision and will doubtless introduce the usual cost-cutting measures to increase its profitability ie reducing the wages bill, weakening union representation and paring the service back as much as possible. Using under or unskilled labour to do the work of a highly trained professional is the obvious way to reduce the wages bill – wages will be the biggest drain on his profits. The UK government will pay Branson for taking on the service (probably with a huge subsidy) and in return, we will get an impoverished service.

So what, where, why?

Aren’t we told that the Tories are all about ‘free-markets’ and competition … but that sounds just like a rigged ‘market’.  How can Richard Branson possibly lose? Just as with the banks and care homes for the elderly, if the private company goes bust or gets fed up, the government will have to step in to pick up the pieces.  In other words, it is yet again …

‘Privatisation of profits and socialization of losses.’

 As Max Keiser pointed out, privatizing health, education and other public services provide great investment opportunities to hedge against more risky speculative ventures. And with another banking crisis predicted for the near future….

So why are the politicians going along with this rip-off of the nation?

Historically, we need to go back to Margaret Thatcher’s election in 1979, and even further back to Hayek on Mount Perelin in 1947.  Put simply, Margaret Thatcher couldn’t bear the Welfare State and wanted Britain to resemble Churchill’s wartime fantasy of pre-WW2…   The Austrian economist Hayek and his book ‘The Road to Serfdom’, offered her a political philosophy and economics that was an intellectual vehicle for her dreams.  The fact that his ideas were so diametrically the opposite of the Welfare State and a mixed economy meant that there were limits to how fast radical dismantling/restructuring could occur without provoking riots.  The ‘Boiling frogs’ strategy was adopted (put frogs in saucepan of cold water and gradually increase the heat – the frogs don’t notice until it’s too late).

The annual release of Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet papers after the 30y rule confirms all this, and it is notable that this year, Cameron has stopped the release of a majority of the minutes from 1986.

But Margaret Thatcher was egged on and undoubtably manipulated by much bigger vested interests than her dreams of an England fit for Miss Marples and Agatha Christie. The City of London provided experts and consultants who saw the opportunity to return wealth and power to its ‘rightful heirs’ (and themselves) – those who we now call the 1% but more properly should be called the 0.1% or even the 0.001%.

It is highly significant that after the Great Depression, and in that short window of 1945-1979, the rich were not so rich and that has now been reversed back to ‘normal’.

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http://gabriel-zucman.eu/files/SaezZucman2014Slides.pdf

 

Sadly, the LP lost its way in the 80s and bought into the idea that there was no alternative (TINA). Many actually believed in The Third Way. However as Tony Blair said recently, he had seen his role as to build on Margaret Thatcher’s achievements, and ironically, it seems that New Labour politicians continue to believe in ‘the wisdom of the markets’ when it is quite clear that George Osborne and the Republicans in the US do not.

James Galbraith insists that the original Monetarists like Milton Friedman were serious economists but after deregulation, market solutions were abandoned in favour of Crony Capitalism ‘in all important areas of policy-making’.

 For them, [a market solution] now serves as nothing more than an enabling myth, used to hide the true nature of our world. Ironically, only the progressive still takes the call for “market solutions”

http://economistsview.typepad.com/economistsview/2008/05/the-predator-st.html

In other words, we’re being spun a load of economic lies (like austerity, the deficit drama and competitive efficiency) which are intended to persuade us that the impoverishment of the next generation, to benefit the global over-class of super-rich, is unavoidable. And as it happens, we have a government of Old Etonians and aristocrats who belong to that over-class, as do their cronies, friends, relatives and future employers.

‘Cameron himself went to Eton, and the many Old Etonians in his inner circle include Oliver Letwin, minister for government policy; Jo Johnson, head of his policy unit; Ed Llewellyn, chief of staff; and Rupert Harrison, George Osborne’s chief economic adviser.’

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/mar/14/gove-attacks-preposterous-number-old-etonians-cameron-cabinet

“What did the new class… set out to do in political terms? The experience of the past decade permits a very simple summary explanation: they set out to take over the state and to run it — not for any ideological project but simply in the way that would bring to them, individually and as a group, the most money, the least disturbed power, and the greatest chance of rescue should something go wrong. That is, they set out to prey on the existing institutions of the [ ] regulatory and welfare system.”

http://forensicstatistician.wordpress.com/2011/05/23/a-predator-state-the-worst-bits-of-capitalism-communism-and-feudalism/

So where does this leads us with regards to the junior doctors’ contract and Jeremy Hunt?

Jeremy Hunt’s behaviour really doesn’t make any sense if he wants a ‘seven day’ NHS. No-one can imagine that it is feasible, not without more doctors, more hospital porters, nurses, radiographers etc… and expecting 20bn worth of cuts to the NHS budget at the same time? The old adage is that if something doesn’t make sense, ‘Follow the Money’.

After the last 5y of Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill reorganization and cuts, it is no surprise that hospital doctors feel demoralized, undervalued, over worked and now they are being threatened with a substantial pay cut. Hunt’s imposition of the new contract on the Junior doctors is particularly criticized for driving doctors to work abroad.

Thousands are set to quit the NHS in protest over plans to shake up hours… more than 6,000 requests have been made for the paperwork needed to practise medicine outside the UK.

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/junior-doctors-fleeing-country-after-7367186#ICID=sharebar_facebook

 

Well, the resulting shortage from a mass exodus of doctors would be a perfect reason for using under-skilled staff … and it could be even be spun as unreasonable doctors, disloyally abandoning the NHS.  Hence, the conditions of the NHS could be harmonized with the expectations of private health care providers.  And all who could afford it, would be tempted to go for private treatment… as in the two tier system of the US.

Hunt has good reason to want to upset and alienate the Junior doctors.  It seems all too likely that he would love the awkward squad to go.  Then he can move on to the consultants…

As James Galbraith writes:

There is no common good, no public purpose, no shareholder’s interest; we are the prey and governments as well as corporations are run by and for predators. The “failures” enrich the proper beneficiaries even as they “prove” government is no solution.

 

Fortunately, we’re not told the truth about how the economy really works… and there is no economic reason why a new courageous state could not (in time) restore the NHS to being an improved, truly nationalised service….  And it just so happens that Jeremy Corbyn supports full re-instatement of the NHS.  Fingers crossed.

http://www.nhsbill2015.org/jeremy-corbyn-supports-the-nhs-reinstatement-bill/

 

 

 

https://think-left.org/2012/02/16/the-nhs-and-tina-mrs-thatchers-ideological-anti-democratic-political-legacy/

http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2014/05/23/this-mornings-political-landscape-is-a-victory-for-the-cowardly-state/

 

Conservative supporters seem to agree with Jeremy… Corbyn not Hunt

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(Comments gathered from around the web. All positive views of Hunt’s behaviour have been shamelessly ignored but there were hardly any.)

Most embarrassingly for the government, the daughter of former cabinet minister Andrew Mitchell, herself a junior NHS doctor, has called for Jeremy Hunt to be sacked, accusing the health secretary of misusing statistics and alienating “an entire generation of junior doctors”

Then there is increasing criticism from fellow Tory politicians. For example, Dr Dan Poulter MP, who was a health minister until last May and who led the early negotiations on the junior doctors’ new contract in 2014, described Hunt’s decision on Thursday as “a dark day for the NHS and the future of medicine”.

But most vitriolic are ordinary Conservative voters:

Hunt may have won the battle but has certainly lost the war.

When all is said and done, I think Hunt’s behaviour has been appalling and I don’t think we have heard the end of this.

Could anyone really say they would happily argue for Hunt’s imposition of the contract on the doorstep?

I object to the ham-fisted way in which Mr Hunt has conducted the negotiations and his serious misrepresentation of the deal he has imposed on junior doctors.

Patients and the electorate are not going to believe any politician from any party when it comes to what is and is not in the best interests of patient care. They are going to trust the doctors.

Junior doctors had nothing to do with Mid-Staffs and Morecambe Bay and to suggest otherwise is very disingenuous.

Mr Hunt you always sound extremely plausible when I hear you speak and the deal you have offered does not seem bad to me at all. But so many people accuse you of dishonesty that I do wonder if there’s no smoke without fire? If you have been dishonest in the past please ensure that you have learned your lesson and will be straightforward and honest from now. It is the best policy now and always.

Asking doctors to work anti social hours for, in many cases, a net pay cut. The 13% basic award is designed to distract public opinion away from the reduction in special payments.

The new contract seeks to extend anti social hours of working, without increasing staffing levels, but significantly reduced or eliminated special payments.

The BMA offer (rejected by Hunt personally when NHSE apparently thought it ok) was to cut the basic pay rise to 5.6% (from 11) and keep Saturdays as OOH. It was pay neutral. Doctors think working on Saturdays counts as anti-social. Hunt says not. I’m with the doctors on this one.

The NHS is already dangerously over-reliant on locum doctors who are paid ridiculously large amounts compared to junior doctors. Hunt’s action will increase rather than reduce this over-reliance and will increase the number of doctors who emigrate when they qualify, which is already significant, rather than work in the NHS.

A perfectly fair, cost neutral solution, acceptable to NHS employers was vetoed by Hunt. Crass pigheadedness! And for what gain?

A pay deal that leaves more than a few doctors worse off, not as many as the initial proposals, but still enough to be of concern. I have not had to take a pay cut in my career but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone (except perhaps bankers) let alone doctors who have to work weekends, nights and be on call.

Jeremy Hunt should resign now. He’s a disaster for the whole of the U.K., he has alienated an entire profession. He has caused untold harm for years to come as talented young doctors seriously now look elsewhere. Unless this man is thrown out of office, disasters such as these will continue.

A very sad episode this and not good to see these talented hard working people so angry with the government.

Just go Jeremy and do it soon and allow the next minister chance to repair the damage both to the NHS and us politically before it’s too late

Do the decent thing and resign now Mr Hunt.

Had labour done this we on here, quite rightly, would’ve been slaughtering them, the fact it’s actually us that are doing this is all the more painful

Are we trying to install Corbyn in number 10?

A petition calling for a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt has collected over 133 thousand votes in less than 24h. This means that the petition will have to be considered by a Parliamentary committee and has the potential to end up as a debate in the House of Commons.

But let’s not forget that it was a great surprise when Jeremy Hunt was brought in to replace Andrew Lansley (after what another Tory voter called his ‘£3 billion of pointless reorganisation’).  After revelations of Hunt’s dodgy dealings with Murdoch over the failed bid to take over BSkyB, it was expected that he would be quietly dropped not promoted… but there is more …

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(Hat tip Tom Pride)

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Labour Party, responding to Jeremy Hunt’s announcement that he will impose a contract on junior doctors, said: 

“Jeremy Hunt’s decision to impose a contract on junior doctors is provocative and damaging. Rather than helping to resolve this difficult dispute, his action will only inflame it.

“The BMA has continued to table proposals to settle the dispute. The fact that the Health Secretary is now simply trying to impose his will rather than negotiate, demonstrates a lack of confidence in his own arguments.

“We need to recognise the huge contribution junior doctors make and the years of training they go through to look after us. These are people dedicated to our health and our NHS. 

“Patients, doctors, the BMA and the public want an agreed settlement. What is now keeping this dispute going are the actions of the Secretary of State himself.

“More strikes now look likely. If that happens, it will be clear that the blame lies with the government, not the doctors.

“Even at this late stage, I appeal to Jeremy Hunt to go back and negotiate with the BMA.

“This government is reckless with our NHS and is now prepared to put patient care at risk in the service of its self-defeating austerity programme.”

Strange but true… it seems that many Conservative supporters are more in tune with Jeremy Corbyn over this, than they are with Jeremy Hunt and their own government.

Jeremy Hunt’s Plan for the NHS

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It may not look like it, but Jeremy Hunt DOES have a plan for the NHS – Caroline Molloy  First posted 23 October 2015 on openDemocracy/OurNHS

The Tories would have us believe that they are backing away from NHS privatisation.  In fact, they’re stealthily laying the groundwork for maximum profit opportunities – and comprehensive healthcare may be their first casualty.

Don’t worry about the fact that 82% of GPs are planning to leave or cut their hours in the next five years. Don’t worry that junior doctors aren’t any happier. And don’t worry that every week reveals another NHS hospital deeply in the red – even ones we thought were ok.

Don’t worry about any of that, because Jeremy Hunt has a plan.

It’s the NHS’s own plan, he repeats in every media interview. It’s the plan it would be a ‘disaster’ to deviate from, he told us before the election.

But what is this plan?

We’ll get to that in a minute.

First, let’s look at what we’re being told it’s not.

It’s not like that toxic Andrew Lansley stuff, the pro-competition 2012 Act, the “reorganisation so big you can see it from outer space”. No, that was Cameron and Osborne’s “worst mistake”, they’ve let it be known. It wasn’t really their fault, of course – they didn’t have “a clue” what the then Health Secretary was up to.

They were so cross with him, they made him a Lord. And he was such a fool, he’s just landed a job at private equity firm, Bain, advising on healthcare privatisation.

But let’s not worry about that. Lansley’s Act is “being ignored” anyway, the pro-market Health Services Journal tells us. Forget competition, forget the idea of external takeovers and internal dog-eat-dog competition between standalone trusts and powerful CCGs – under current Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS boss Simon Stevens’ plan, it’s all about collaboration now. Even KPMG (who’ve just poached another former Health Secretary, Steven Dorrellsay so.

So what is this plan? And, er, collaboration with whom?

Has Stevens – long-time Blair advisor and former United Health Vice President– really sent the private sector packing? And – after a few brand-damaging failures – have private health firms really scuttled away defeated from the £120bn “unopened oyster” of the NHS budget, deciding the NHS would be ‘shown some mercy’ after all?

It would be nice to think so. The more naïve sections of the liberal media have certainly bought that idea. When Simon Stevens launched his “Five Year Plan” last year, Andrew Rawnsley in the Observer said he had “only one fundamental objection” to the “generally excellent” plan – that it had the wrong picture on the cover. Polly Toynbee in the Guardian told us it was great because “the word competition doesn’t appear once in his 37 page document”. Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham appeared to sort of welcome the Stevens plan, then to sort of welcome it not quite so much.

Aside from this site, one of the few mainstream commentators to nail what the Stevens’ plan was really about was Fraser Nelson, in the Telegraph. “Like the best revolutions, it came carefully disguised,” Nelson observes. Yes, “the c-word didn’t appear once” but (like Nelson himself) Stevens still “firmly believes” in the competition/choice agenda – he’s just experienced enough to know that “the secret of successful radical reform is not to announce it with any fanfare.”

Nelson nails it when he says: “Stevens’ Grand Plan is to have no more Grand Plans but, instead, lots of smaller plans.”

So what are these smaller plans – and what do they mean for the future of the NHS?

Whilst even Jeremy Hunt and his regulator Monitor have tacitly admitted that standalone, competing Foundation Trusts aren’t working, Hunt and Stevens see more privatisation, not less, as the answer.

‘Collaboration’ turns out to mean hospital mergers into ‘chains’ – a theme developed in the Stevens report. The man tasked to develop the ‘chains’ plan, Sir David Dalton, has suggested it could lead to more private takeovers. Junior health minister Lord Prior wants private takeovers of hospital chains, too – and he also thinks they should close lots of beds.

As Circle have found in the UK with their disastrous Hinchingbrooke foray, at the moment it’s hard to make a profit from competing to provide full service local hospitals.

As United Health, Kaiser and others have found in the U.S. – profit opportunities are much bigger if you integrate both the purchasing and provisionof healthcare under private control or influence, enabling you to ration or deny more expensive healthcare interventions. And it’s much easier to do that if you use your control or influence to reorganise provision away from full service local hospitals, towards a chain of disparate community-based clinics and far-flung specialist centres. Of course you have to claim all the while that this is all about integration, prevention, empowerment, localism, personalisation, specialisation, reducing ‘variation’, and ‘care closer to home’.

Stevens is pushing this approach through a range of supposedly ‘integrated’ new ‘smaller plans’. Like the new multi-billion pound lead provider framework to ‘help’ with purchasing healthcare (which United Health subsidiary Optum has won a sizeable chunk of). And a ‘prime provider’ framework to ‘integrate’ purchasing and providing (which both Circle and Virgin have won contracts worth billions for already). Not to mention the the array of ‘local’ NHS ‘Vanguard’ projects, which Stevens explicitly suggests could be modelled on US firm Kaiser Permanante’s ‘Accountable Care Organisations’ or similar Spanish companies. The tech-heavy projects are full of private sector opportunities and partnerships – particularly outside of unprofitable acute care. Meanwhile, tariff cuts leave the sword of Damocles dangling over many local full service hospitals.

Profit opportunities also expand if firms set their own easily-gamed ‘outcome based’ success measurements. Out go what Stevens calls ‘mechanistic’measurements (like the requirement to have enough nurses, properly trained healthcare workers, and hospital beds).

Since the general election, Stevens and Hunt have been busy tearing up such requirements.

And in come easily gamed ‘outcome’ measures – exactly what we see in the new style contracts.

Profit opportunities also expand if co-payments (ie, patient charges) are permitted. The right are getting more confident in calling for such chargesLord Prior has tried to launch an inquiry to consider it – and the government has still not clearly disavowed such an inquiry. The growing number of exponents of charges and co-payments are usually keen to stress it would only be for freshly defined ‘non-core’ services which, if you look closely, turn out to mean things like a bed to recover in after your op (£75 a night please!).

And there are many other attempts underway to undermine the comprehensive, universal, publicly funded core values of the NHS, by bringing the ‘undeserving’ narrative from benefits, into the NHS. An early sign is the attempt to refuse people care if they smoke or are obese, for example (cavalier to the fact that it is poorer people who will be disproportionately hit by such clinically uninformed decisions). Whilst Devon’s attempt to do this failed, experts saw it as a sign of things to come.

Stevens has just given all of this a big boost by pushing integrated health and social care budgets (and indeed integrated benefits budgets in some devolved areas, like Cornwall). All of this may be nice in theory, perhaps, but it’s pretty terrifying in a climate of ‘austerity’, where social care users already can, and have to, top-up or co-pay for services (and benefits are already heavily conditional).

And integrated personal budgets – which Stevens has been pushing since day one in the job – are now being rolled out to millions. No-one has yet managed to explain how these are any different from the old Thatcherite voucher plan (which would basically finish the job of destroying the NHS).

Lastly, as a big bonus, once firms nabbing all these contracts have their hands on the patient data needed to commission healthcare (or obtained by delivering it ‘digitally’), they can also make a packet selling our information to data, insurance and pharmaceutical companies – or worse.

Of course this entire bureaucratic market nightmare costs a fortune to administer, though the scale of the fortune is a closely guarded secret. The Health Select Committee pointed all this out in 2010 (referring to earlier data – and we’ve had two or three more tranches of ‘marketisation’ since then).

So if that’s the Stevens plan, what’s our plan B to get out of this mess?

First, the NHS urgently needs a cash injection to get it through this current manufactured crisis (with the DoH handing billions back to the Treasury in ‘underspends‘ in recent years – ‘doh!’ indeed!).

Healthcare needs are not a bottomless pit, as the neoliberal ideologues claim – but the demands of health, insurance, pharmaceutical, data, consultancy and tech companies for profit streams, may well be.

Ultimately, all this destruction is possible, not because of Stevens himself, but because the Coalition government finally removed the duty to secure comprehensive healthcare which was offered to the nation in 1948 and persisted, just about, til 2012. We need to restore that duty.

And we need to recognise that hospitals have been brought low by a combination of PFI debt and the dog eat dog, beggar my neighbour nightmare of even the ‘internal’ market, let alone the external one. We need to get rid of that market – as Scotland has done.

The NHS Bill – sponsored by Caroline Lucas, signed by Jeremy Corbyn when he was a backbencher, and due for its second reading in March 2016 – is a serious attempt to do both.

The market, internal or external, disguised as ‘collaboration’ or not, is not an effective way to allocate healthcare – we’ve known that since the pioneering work of Nobel prize winner Kenneth Arrow in the 1960s. It forces hospitals to hammer down staff costs and offload unprofitable patients, and creates impossible choices between the bottom line and patient safety.

It’s only ideology and vested interests that would seek to persuade us that the answer is more of the same.

And if anyone – Tory, Labour, or ‘non-political’ – says they support the NHS, we need to ask – do you mean an NHS that is comprehensive, universal, publicly funded, high quality, timely and ethical?

If not, they are not defending the NHS as the public understand and love it. And that’s what we need to fight for.

 

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