“Making this vital service great once more”

Peter Brown is one of the few correspondents in the Swindon Advertiser to write in defence of Blair’s government. Some uncharitable souls have suggested that his letters are written by a Party HQ computer and Peter marks his cross on the bottom. True or false his letters are certainly replete with statistics, which he obviously has at his fingertips. His latest letter was a rejoinder to a Tory councillor complaining about the number of beds in the Great Western Hospital, built courtesy of the Private Finance Initiative. This is my response to the paper’s letters page.

“Peter Brown (“Labour Policy boosted GWH”) ignores the fact that the reason there were insufficient beds in the GW Hospital when it opened was because of this government’s policy. When it came to office in 1997 it adopted the Tory policy of the Private Finance Initiative. In order to enable the private company to make a profit the hospital had a smaller number of beds than the community needed. A publicly funded hospital would have been much cheaper.
The then Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, promised to dispense with the Tories ‘internal market’. Now the Blair government is creating a market in which private companies are supposed to compete with the NHS. But this ‘market’ is rigged in favour of private health firms. Trusts are being instructed to hand over work from the NHS to the private sector. For example in Brighton 85% of the orthopaedic work is being handed over to a private company. In Oxford Nuffield hospital may have to close up to 50% of its beds because work is being handed over to the private sector.We now have the lunacy of Trusts preparing to ‘market’ themselves to patients!

Far from “making this vital service great once more” the government is destroying the foundations of the NHS. At the time of PFI we were told that clinical work would remain within the NHS. Now the government is encouraging the growth of the private health vultures at the expense of the NHS.

That is why even the recent Labour Party conference voted for a halt to private sector involvement in the NHS and even people such as ex-Minister Frank Dobson, and other Labour MPs, are supporting a new national campaign, Keep Our NHS Public (www.keepournhspublic.com ) to stop the Blair government’s privatisation of NHS work. Needless to say the messianic Blair will ignore the conference decision of ‘his’ party.

Martin Wicks
Secretary, Swindon TUC”

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