Today, provisions in the Health and Care Act 2022 come into effect which sees decision-making about local health services handed over to democratically unaccountable third parties, including private companies.
When the Health and Care Act 2022 was going through Parliament, I wrote about problems with the Integrated Care System model that was proposed in the legislation. Simply put the issue is this: the ICS model “will not guarantee my constituents’ right to access the healthcare they need, when they need it.”
Read here: ‘The Health and Care Bill needs a new name: the Corporate Takeover Bill’ (The Independent, November 2021)
These reforms come as the jury returns it’s verdict on healthcare privatisation in the UK: it is failing people. Research published in the Lancet has linked increased NHS privatisation to a decline in the quality of patient care.
Successive Governments have tried to convince us their NHS reforms don’t mean privatisation.
But privatisation doesn’t just come in the form of asset stripping communities, as Governments did to libraries, Sure Start centres, and 12,000 public spaces (and counting).
Privatisation is not just about selling off public services at bargain basement prices, as they did with Royal Mail. It’s also not just about giving control of public resources to profiteering companies, like Governments have done with water and energy.
Privatisation also includes handing over decision-making about how public services are designed and run to the private sector, and shielding these companies from public accountability and scrutiny. It’s the kind of privatisation we see in mental health care and education.
Many in Norwich will remember the battle we waged in regards to the Inspiration Trust. The privatisation we see with academies denies communities and parents a say in the education of our children, and takes away power to hold decision-makers to account.
We have a bigger fight on our hands than how much money goes into public services, as important as that is. Our fight is for universal services that are democratically owned and run. That fight for democracy and public ownership must now include the fight for a democratic Government.
Why? Because the reality is this: the majority won’t get the services we need for a wellbeing-orientated society, until we have a political system in which the Govt is accountable to the public – instead of a handful of wealthy donors & a small number of voters in ‘swing’ seats.