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Has anybody examined the verbal vandalism attempted by former Defence Secretary Liam Fox on the National Health Service this week?
Mr Fox’s known financial interests include receiving £5,000 to run his private office in October 2012 from investment company IPGL Ltd, who purchased healthcare pharma company Cyprotex.
That didn’t stop him from trying to starve what’s left of the publicly-owned part of our health service of the ever-dwindling portion of taxpayers’ cash earmarked for it.
He demanded that NHS funding should not be ring-fenced after the 2015 general election, saying its performance does not justify the favour.
He told The Times: “I think we’ve tested to destruction the idea that simply throwing lots more money at the health service will make it better.
“The increase over the last decade has been phenomenal and yet a lot of our health indicators lag behind other countries, particular things like stroke outcome or a lot of cancer outcomes.
“We’ve become obsessed with throughput and not outcomes and that has been hugely to the detriment of the patients in our system.
“If you treat the National Health Service itself as being the important entity, and not the patients, then you’re on a hiding to nothing.”
There’s a lot of material in there that isn’t worth the time it took to cut and paste it (from the Guardian article) – but it needs to be addressed because there will be people in this country who believe it.
Firstly: Ring-fencing the budget does not mean it has remained at pre-2010 heights. In fact all parts of the NHS have had to cut budgets by four per cent, year on year, in order to meet the so-called ‘Nicholson challenge’ to cut £20 billion from the overall budget by 2015. In addition, while David Cameron has insisted that his government will have increased that budget by £12.7 billion by 2015, figures up to 2013 show a decrease in funding.
They haven’t been “throwing lots more money at the health service”; they’ve been starving it. This came after a decade of, yes, record investment – which resulted in record levels of public satisfaction as it met ambitious targets to cut waiting times and improve patient care.
It was only after the Conservative-led Coalition government came into office that NHS providers began to be cut and squeezed into downsizing, mergers, centralisation and closures. The aim is to reduce the NHS in England to a very few short-staffed, demoralised and overloaded central units, covering only those services deemed unprofitable by private sector providers – including the company that gave Mr Fox his five grand.
He’s not alone – 78 per cent of his fellows in the Parliamentary Conservative Party, including Prime Minister David Cameron and Andrew Lansley, the former Health Secretary who pushed through the unwanted legislation that made this possible, also have financial or vested interests in private healthcare.
You’ll have noticed that Mr Fox did not declare that he had received money from a company associated with private healthcare when he made his comments. The fact is that his fellow Tories, when discussing the then-Health and Social Care Bill, didn’t declare theirs either.
Since the Bill became law, it seems MPs have been falling over themselves to talk the NHS into the grave. But consider this: They all have a financial interest in doing so. If they succeed in their plan to turn over taxpayers’ money to private firms and let the public service wither away, then they are likely to receive dividends from the various companies in which they are involved.
This is known as ‘obtaining a pecuniary advantage by deception’ or, more commonly, fraud.
Mr Fox already had to resign his cabinet position because of an inappropriate business relationship.
Now he is making the same mistake again – and risking more than his reputation.
(Much more information on the Tory-led privatisation of the NHS is available in NHS SOS, edited by Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis and published by Oneworld. To find out how you can work to reverse the damage being done to the most cherished organisation in the UK, please visit www.keepournhspublic.com and www.nhscampaign.org.uk)
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