'Our NHS cares about the health of our nation, private companies care to make as much profit as possible.'
Victoria Atkins, who was appointed as the new health secretary in Sunak’s reshuffle, has promised to get around the table with unions to end the NHS strikes – as she failed to attend a key healthcare conference, just two days into her new role. Atkins is the fifth health secretary in just two years.
We Own It, campaigners for public ownership, haven’t wasted any time in calling on the new health secretary to fix the NHS crisis by reinstating the health service as a ‘fully public service and ending NHS privatisation.
In a letter to the new health secretary, the campaigners note how the affects of 13 years of underfunding, outsourcing and privatisation under five successive Conservative prime minister are clear to see. The letter lists the consequences, including 7.7 million people waiting for NHS care, 272,000 people paying for surgeries last year, and the ‘rapid growth of ‘Buy now, pay later’ loans for healthcare, which are, according to the authors, “pushing people in our communities into indebtedness.”
The letter alludes to a study by Oxford University, which linked the outsourcing of NHS services to treatable deaths. The campaigners also inform the new health secretary of recent Survation/We Own It polling, which shows that 78 percent of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, want the NHS fully publicly owned and delivered.
The campaigners write: “Private solutions to this crisis will necessarily fail because the NHS has a fundamentally different interest to private companies. If all illnesses suddenly disappeared from Britain, our NHS would greatly benefit, whereas the private healthcare companies would suffer loss. Our NHS cares about the health of our nation, private companies care to make as much profit as possible.
“Our NHS was ranked the best in the developed world until Conservative governments started cutting and privatising it. You can break this cycle of destruction. What our NHS needs is for politicians to put NHS patients before the profits of private companies. It is time to restore our NHS to a service we can once again be proud of,” they continue.
More than 10,000 people have added their signature to the letter to reinstate the NHS as a fully public service.
Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward