Category Archives: NHS Privatisation

5 NHS Strategies That Make UKIP Unelectable

1 – Constantly Threaten NHS Privatisation

Having already covered UKIP’s love affair with privatisation, NHSpace promises not to go over old ground. There’s no need to, as we have brand new evidence!

UKIP are just waiting for public opinion to change so they can safely reveal their privatising agenda. But if that’s the plan, why has the UKIP general secretary just gone on record saying that the NHS is the “Reichstag bunker of socialism” and needs privatising? Maybe he just couldn’t wait.

2 – Promote Politicians Who Know Nothing About Health

The UKIP spokesperson for health is an MEP who knows absolutely nothing about healthcare. Nothing. This is the person that UKIP would make Health Secretary.

3 – Play The Immigration Card

Despite the fact that the UK has a net gain of £2bn per year from migrants, and despite that fact that migrant health professionals make up 35% of NHS staff, UKIP still think that their NHS policies should involve bashing migrants as much as possible.

Whether it’s the spread of infectious disease or just traffic on the M4, you can be sure that Farage will find some way of blaming immigration. But hey, who needs real policies when you can blame ethic minorities?

4 –  Go On A Crusade Against Breastfeeding

As if anyone could ever forget, the UKIP leader is anti-breastfeeding and would prefer breastfeeding mothers to cover up and hide in a corner.

5 – Don’t Bother Having Any Real Policies

With weeks left to go, UKIP actually don’t know what their election policies on the NHS will be. Apparently it’s down to their “National Executive Committee”, although NHSpace suspects they’re just waiting for Farage so smoke a few more packets so that they’ve got somewhere to scribble down their latest ‘policies’.

The Efford Bill – More Reasons For Concern

Deborah Harrington on the latest fallout from the Efford Bill

Labour MP Clive Efford has posted a legal rebuttal to Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick’s critique of his ‘Efford Bill‘. It is written by David Lock QC – by chance the one-time Labour MP for Wyre Forest who supported the proposed ‘changes’ to Kidderminster Hospital which started the political career of Dr Richard Taylor.

Lock’s analysis is a mixture of legal interpretation and neoliberal ideology. He ‘explains’ why Pollock, Roderick and others are wrong about Efford’s Bill, adding his neoliberal interpretation of the founding principles of the NHS. He seeks to demonstrate that the Health Secretary never had a ‘duty to provide’ healthcare and this is his commentary on the utopian and unachievable aim of a  ‘comprehensive’ service:

“There are a multitude of reasons why a comprehensive health service that provides relevant healthcare services to meet the needs of all NHS patients can never be delivered in practice.  The understandable calls from patients for such a service are, when properly analysed, calls for a utopian service which no government has ever or could ever deliver because the supply of any healthcare service inevitably creates a demand for further services.  At some point the money must run out and the available services have to be constrained by the available resources.”

I doubt very much whether any NHS campaigner has ever thought for one moment that ‘comprehensive’ when properly analysed means endlessly supplying to a demand led health economy in which ‘patient choice’ must been sated in accordance with market rules.

Lock defines ‘comprehensive’ as the opposite to ‘rationed’, based upon patient demand rather than healthcare needs. (A more reasonable definition of comprehensive is covering everything on the base of clinical evidence, clear definitions and sound planning rather than market forces.)

By using these descriptions (and particularly the use of the word ‘utopian’) Lock defines Bevan’s terminology as being merely idealised, rather than prescriptive.  That way, he can effectively dismiss them as not to be taken literally.

Specifically he says:

“If there is to be some limitation [on the ambit of the duty under section 3], I ask myself the question: How is the nature and extent of that limitation to be determined? And the only sensible answer that I find it possible to give to that question is that the limitation must be determined in the light of current government economic policy. I think that is quite clearly an implication which must read into s 3(1) of the National Health Service Act 1977 if it is to be operated realistically”

In other words neoliberal economic policy rules supreme over all other considerations. This potentially allows any configuration of services or any number of cuts to be imposed under the mantle of ‘economic responsibility’.

Regarding the status of the NHS, Efford’s Bill uses the legal term ‘services of general economic interest’ rather than ‘non-economic social service of general interest’ – this would seem to run in the face of the ‘social solidarity’ that the Bill attests to elsewhere. ‘Services of general economic interest’ is a term defined in trade agreements, whereas ‘solidarity’ is a stated underlying value of The Single European Act, the Maastricht Treaty and the Lisbon Treaty. A value does not have the precise definition of a clause in law, and thus cannot be used as a trump card this way.

Assuming that Efford actually took legal advice before writing the long title of his bill I also have to point out a logical fallacy. The long title claims to ‘re establish the Secretary of State’s duty to provide national health services in England’. The actual text does not do that. Campaigners objected. And now Lock argues it couldn’t do that because no such duty ever existed!

Furthermore the principles of the NHS 2015 Reinstatement Bill – public ownership, public provision and removing the private sector already there – are now being dismissed as unrealistic by those who have promoted Clive Efford’s Bill. As expected, the neoliberal view in which market forces must rule over healthcare needs is being presented as the only possible option.

Can Labour Be Trusted With The NHS?

Here’s an extract from the Health Service Journal on 3rd November 2014 (we’ve added the emphasis on certain parts):

Burnham sets out role for private providers in his NHS vision

Private health providers could play a significant role in providing NHS services under a Labour government, the shadow health secretary has suggested. In an exclusive interview with HSJ, the Andy Burnham gave his most detailed account of how his flagship policy that the NHS being the “preferred provider” for state run services would work.

Mr Burnham, who first floated the model in 2009 while health secretary under the last Labour government, said the “simplest way to put it” was that the “first chance” would be given to the NHS. He said: “So, there is going to be change, but the NHS will get the first chance to change. “You don’t immediately go to an open competition, [the NHS] gets the chance to embrace the model. But [if commissioners judge the] change isn’t acceptable or not embraced fully, then [we] say: ‘We’ve given you first chance to change but it’s not worked. We now need to open up to different ways of doing things.’”

The MP for Leigh also gave the all clear for NHS organisations bidding for contracts to bring in a private or third sector provider to deliver some of the work. He said: “The NHS preferred provider principle in non-negotiable for me. Because in the end the public NHS matters to me. “Once you’ve got that principle, then saying that in any locality, allowing people to develop systems that work from that principle but involve others, absolutely, that’s a healthy thing. I think you’d want that to be honest.

Is anyone else here just a little bit worried now?

UKIP’s NHS Privatisation Agenda

You may recently have watched the footage of UKIP deputy leader Paul Nuttall calling for “more free market” in the NHS. Hardcore UKIP supporters have responded to the video with claims that UKIP have changed their policy on NHS privatisation since 2011. Let us set aside the obvious argument that UKIP are merely hiding their true colours in order to appear acceptable to the public. Instead, let us look at the much more recent evidence that UKIP want to privatise the NHS.

(If you’re not sure what constitutes privatisation of a public health service, see Clive Peedell’s article on Open Democracy. In this article we’ll consider privatisation as the increasing provision of a public health service by private companies via a free market process.)

Update: Leaked documents show Ukip leaders approve NHS privatisation once it becomes more ‘acceptable to the electorate’

Update: Ukip general secretary calls for NHS to be privatised and compares it to Nazi Germany

1. Nigel Farage

The UKIP leader Nigel Farage called for private involvement in the NHS in an interview with The Telegraph as recently as October 2014: “I genuinely do think, when you hear of a big businessman that says he’d like to run the National Health Service and streamline it, and get better value for money, I think that’s the approach we’ve got to take.

Farage previously told the Telegraph in January 2014 that it would be “ridiculous to protect the NHS from spending cuts“.

Going back further, Farage was caught on camera in September 2012 telling UKIP supporters that the NHS should move towards an insurance-based system run by private companies.

2. Paul Nuttall 

An open letter on Nuttall’s own website opened with “I would like to congratulate the coalition government for bringing a whiff of privatisation into the beleaguered National Health Service“. The letter remained on Nuttall’s site until May 2014.

3. Samuel Fletcher 

In May 2014 Vox Political’s Mike Sivier managed to catch a tweet from UKIP candidate Samuel Fletcher – it read “Personally I would completely scrap the NHS and require everyone to take out private health insurance.

4. Bradley Monk

In May 2013 the Southern Daily Echo had reported on a very similar tweet from UKIP candidate Bradley Monk – it read “The welfare state is massively bloated. I’d scrap the NHS personally, but that is political suicide.

5. Douglas Carswell

In February 2012 Tory defector and UKIP by-election winner Douglas Carswell wrote an article on his website stating his full support for Andrew Lansley’s privatising Health & Social Care Act.


Regarding TTIP (the privatising EU-US Trade Deal) – UKIP initially came out in favour of TTIP in October 2014 but then quickly back-pedalled. What’s clear is that they would be fully in favour but for their issues with Europe: “Ukip is in favour of free trade but we are opposed to the undemocratic Commission negotiating on our behalf. Of course we look at each trade deal on case by case basis…” So clear as mud, then. At least RT’s Max Keiser seems to know the score.

7. The UKIP 2014 manifesto

UKIP spokesman Keith Rowe’s website summarised UKIP’s NHS policy in May 2014, stating: “UKIP will abolish the complex competitive tendering rules which currently make it very difficult for smaller companies to bid […] the UKIP will require the NHS to use people with commercial experience to negotiate with the private sector.” In other words, they wanted to make it easier for small private companies to take over NHS services, and they want to put privateers in control of the process.

8. The UKIP 2015 manifesto

The current UKIP manifesto claims “UKIP will ensure the NHS is free at the point of delivery and time of need for all UK residents“. UKIP have said nothing about stopping NHS privatisation – they have not claimed that they will ensure a publicly-funded, publicly-run NHS. So, if you’re trying to claim that UKIP aren’t going to privatise the NHS, copying and pasting the UKIP manifesto proves nothing.