Sunday, December 12, 2021

The campaign to press MPs to reverse the privatisation of the NHS has started

 Well that was fun. This grey Sunday afternoon I went round my neighbours with two sheets of paper, one a double sided page of A4 setting out the evidence that the NHS is being privatised, and the other a voting slip saying 


Put your X against the word that fits your opinion:



They have a week to make up their minds, as I will collect the voting slip next week.

It was very pleasant meeting and chatting with neighbours, especially as we don't see much of each other in the winter.

This is the first step of a campaign in North Somerset, and I (and I hope a few others) will be plodding round our neighbours over the coming months, collecting views. I am hoping that the result will be a clear majority wanting John Penrose MP, and Liam Fox MP, who is in the other constituency in North Somerset, to be faced with the fact that their stance (denial that NHS privatisation is taking place) is in directly opposed to the wished of the vast majority of their constituents. This is politically embarrassing, to say the least.

Here are the papers I am giving out:


It is a commonly claimed that the NHS is being privatised. Privatisation is defined as the transfer of services or assets from public ownership to private corporations.
Politicians often try to deny NHS privatisation is taking place, or  try to confuse the issue, so here are the plain facts in a very brief summary.

1.       In 1987 Margaret Thatcher introduced the “Internal Market” in the NHS, creating a division between purchasers and providers of care services. This immediately increased complexity into the NHS, with more administrative work needed to calculate (or estimate) the costs of everything from brain surgery to a cardboard bedpan. This administrative work has imposed a serious cost burden on the NHS.

2.       The Private Finance Initiative (PFI)  which used private money to build hospitals, ran from 1992 until 2018. It provided £13bn, but will cost the NHS £80bn by the time the debt is repaid. This benefits the private sector, but cripples the NHS.

3.       Foundation Trusts were introduced by a Labour Government, which breaks the NHS down into smaller chunks which can be sold off. This was attempted in the case of Hillingdon Hospital, but the experiment failed.

4.       GPs have been re-organised into consortia, which again are capable of being sold off.

5.       Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill in 2012 removed the responsibility for the Secretary of State for Health to care for the NHS, and obliged NHS Trusts to put contracts out to tender. Since then, contracts worth billions have gone to the private sector. In the five years to 2015 the private sector was awarded the majority of the contracts for the following: Pharmacy, patient transport, diagnostics and GP out of hours.

6.       In the course of negotiations of a post-Brexit trade deal, US corporations were very keen to reduce the ability of the NHS to control drug prices. Their plans could increase the cost of drugs to the NHS by a massive £27 billion.

7.       Integrated Care Systems were introduced in 2017, and are very similar to US Accountable Care Organisations. Their aim is to reduce spending. If a private partner in the ICS manages to reduce spending, it is allowed to keep the savings. This is an incentive to cut corners.

8.       Sir Simon Stevens, (until recently, CEO or head of NHS England), introduced Sustainability and Transformation plans. These aim to reduce NHS beds (the UK has among the lowest ratio of beds to population in the developed world), save £5 billion a year in NHS spending, and reduce the number of A&E departments in the UK from 144 to 50. Sir Simon opposed Obamacare when he was CEO of a US healthcare corporation.

9.       Car parks, cleaning, portering and catering have all been privatised.

10.    Hospitals are increasingly renting space and facilities to private health care organisations.

11.    Increasing numbers of private centres are being set up to do things like hip replacement surgery, which are simple and relatively predictable. If anything goes wrong subsequently, the NHS is expected to put things right, not the private corporation who did the operation.

All of this is evidence of a gradual process of privatisation of the NHS.

On the next page we discuss the debate about privatisation.



The Debate about NHS Privatisation

Politicians argue that GPs, pharmacists, dentists and opticians have always been independent sub-contractors. This is true, but this arrangement was stable, whereas since 1987, the changes that Conservatives (and to a lesser extent, Labour and LibDems) brought in have been causing the role of private agencies to expand steadily. 

Politicians argue that privatised healthcare is more efficient than care provided by the NHS. This is just not true. Private provision is far more expensive because of all the bills and invoices which have to generated. Different sections of the NHS, which just used to cooperate, now have to send each other itemised bills. In the US, administration costs amount to about 40% of total healthcare costs; in the UK before privatisation began, administration costs were 6%. In addition to administrative costs, private corporations will always cream off some of the money they get from Government to run the service as profits to give dividends to their shareholders.

Politicians argue that it does not matter who owns the bricks and mortar of the place where treatment takes place, so long as the treatment is delivered. PFI (see other side) proves this to be wrong. It is more efficient for the NHS to own its own hospital than to pay rent or interest to a corporation. 

Politicians argue that health care costs are rising unsustainably, so something must be done. Rising costs of health care is a universal problem in the modern world, and the NHS is placed in the middle the range in international comparisons regarding cost. Privatisation will only add to the cost. Health care in the USA is about twice as expensive as the NHS, and it serves fewer people, proportionately. Real social and economic reforms will reduce health costs, not privatisation.

If we, the people, do not stop the process of privatisation, we will be left with a rump NHS that does emergency care while anything that is remotely profitable will have been sold off. Private care facilities may be able to perform procedures like cataract surgery to hip replacement, but they do not have A&E departments. Any emergencies in these facilities will be shunted over to the NHS to be sorted out.

At the end of the privatisation process lies insurance-based health care. Insurance is always based on risk assessment, which means that high-risk patients, and those unable to afford the premiums, will be left to fend for themselves. In other words, they will be left untreated, maybe to die.

Protect Our NHS is conducting an opinion poll in North Somerset. You will have received a polling slip with this page.

Please join in and cast your vote, so that we can tell your MP exactly how much local opposition there is to the Government’s NHS Privatisation Plans.

If you have any questions about this initiative, or if you want to help, please email




This survey is being carried out by the North Somerset branch of the Keep Our NHS Public organisation to find out what local voters want to happen to the NHS.

We have given you a sheet titled “NHS Privatisation: The Evidence” which sets out in briefly what has been happening to the NHS since 1987, and deals with the arguments politicians give for NHS privatisation.

Now it is up to you, to state your opinion. Please vote by putting X by the word which matches your opinion:


Agree …                                                                                                            Disagree 

All people in the household who are of voting age can vote.  Just put one X per voter.

We intend to publicise the results of this survey in local press and radio.

If you would like to help our campaign to protect the NHS by writing to your MP, or by helping to distribute this survey, just add your telephone number or email to your address, and we will get in touch with you.  
We will not share your details with any other person or organisation.


Thank you for participating


Please feel free to copy and join in  if you wish

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