This site is intended for health professionals only

At the heart of general practice since 1960

Privatisation's creeping tide will engulf the NHS eventually

  • Print
  • 4
  • Save

I don’t do much non-medical reading.

I used to be a voracious reader, but as more of my day is consumed with medical reading and concentration on all matters related to the day job, my non-medical reading has virtually disappeared: it was a luxury of a time when there was good quality leisure time. I don’t have that any more, and I suppose I have got out of the habit of reading.

Even in bed, after half a chapter I am too tired: some call it ‘brain fag’, I call it mental exhaustion.

The only time I can read normally is when I am on holiday, and that means one book every two days. I love holidays.

On holiday five years ago, under a warm Mediterranean sun, I read a book by a Canadian Journalist, Naomi Klein, called The Shock Doctrine. It is a powerful and riveting read, especially if you are interested in international politics, like I am.

Klein’s thesis is that international financial organisations, such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, have now been completely taken over by a strand of economists who adhere to the principles of Hayek and Friedman.

Their overriding philosophy is that the State’s provision should be minimalist, and all services should be contracted out on the basis of competition and choice.

Whenever a country had a national disaster, or needed the help of the IMF in dire financial straights, then the deal was that they would get help, but had to restructure according to the new economic norms of the Chicago School of Economics. This was combined with suppressing opposition and ignoring public opinion: they must take their medicine to get help.

The book had enough of effect on me to read it a second time, with a mixture of fascination and dread: it described nasty things that could only happen in foreign places, a third world problem. Or so I thought.

We are now in the middle of quite a nasty recession, with the poor economic news scheduled to continue for a few years yet. I see the effects of this every day in the stories my patients tell me.

I see police officers bemoaning cuts to their service, nurses who are stressed as they have to work harder, with fewer staff, on a job that gets ever more demanding. I see people with social work qualifications, working as care assistants as there are no jobs available in the field they trained for.

The recession has been used as a reason for many changes to be made to the social fabric of the UK. The idea of universal health care provided via a state-organised system is being slowly changed, so in the next few years we will see the NHS logo as merely a franchise symbol for a whole group of private enterprises, whose primary function is to make money for their shareholders and directors - not to provide an optimal health care service.

Why have these changes not resulted in demonstrations on the streets? There have been demonstrations but they were ignored by the BBC, now largely under the control of the Government, and there was little publicity.

People are also not that aware as they have been seduced by the propaganda, and are struggling with a recession, which is hitting them very hard.

Over the next two years or so the privatisation by stealth will be rolled out, irreversibly, and the service will become much more like an American system of health. Naomi Klein’s observations on the Third World are now being enacted in our First World. Scary reading.

The Jobbing Doctor is a GP in a deprived urban area of England

Readers' comments (4)

  • Bang on; agree completely.

    When are we going to start shouting?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Mark Struthers

    Mike Lander asks,

    "When are we going to start shouting?"

    After a "trial" befitting Kafka, 73 year old John Walker-Smith was removed from the register in May 2010. Nobody shouted. In March 2012 Professor Walker-Smith was restored to the register ...

    ... with not a murmur, let alone any shouting from the medical profession. Of course, Ben Goldigger is right, "medicine is broken" ...

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment


    The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO (which along with its allies represented the First World), or communism and the Soviet Union (which along with its allies represented the Second World). This definition provided a way of broadly categorizing the nations of the earth into three groups based on social, political, and economic divisions. Due to many of the Third World countries being extremely poor, it became a stereotype such that people commonly refer to undeveloped countries as "third world countries," often used in a pejorative way.[1][2] Over the last few decades, the term 'Third World' has been used interchangeably with the Global South and Developing Countries

    to describe poorer countries that have struggled to attain steady economic development.[3]

    THIS LAST BIT .. Sounds like England at present !!!
    The tables are turning .. China is/ will be the new first world

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • I stagger to comprehend how any GP can be critical of the NHS logo being adopted by private companies
    " for profits " . As I recall as a GP partner ie a shareholder in a private company, I maximised profits and reduced expenses so my take home pay was as high as possible. I was not convinced the £250,000 earners produced the best results perhaps the opposite Has general practice changed so much? Kettles and copper come to mind.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

  • Print
  • 4
  • Save