Save our NHS before it's too late!

The NHS is under threat of being privatised without the general public even realising. We don't have long to save it, before it is too late.

The NHS, a national treasure since its inception in 1948, is massively under threat. When this Conservative government was elected in 2010, we were promised that there would be no top-down reorganisation or privatisation of our National Health Service. This has simply not been the case. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 provided the most extensive changes to the structure of the NHS in the last 60 years. Privatisation and the introduction of private companies into the day to day running of our health care system has been happening in front of our very eyes and as a nation, on the whole, we have been oblivious to the huge changes that are occurring.

We already have private companies carrying out operations and running GP out-of-hours services. These firms receive a huge amount of funding from the NHS and are therefore allowed to use the NHS logo. In the last year alone the National Health Service put £13billion worth of clinical contracts out to tender so private firms can bid for the right to run these services. Bids have also been invited for £1.2billion worth of contracts to run cancer and end-of-life services. The biggest and most warranted fear of having private companies involved in the provision of healthcare is simple; private companies are profit maximising. They will not put patients first and will always prioritise making as much money as possible. The likelihood is private companies will concentrate on the more common, easier to diagnose and treat illnesses, in an attempt to drive down costs and increase revenue.

Strategic health authorities and primary care trusts have already been abolished and £60bn of the NHS budget is now in the hands of clinical commissioning groups, which are supposedly run by GPs. In reality these commissioning groups will be managed by private companies and not by GPs, who will continue doing their primary job of looking after patients. These commissioning groups have a huge amount of power and under government regulation NHS services must be put out to competitive tender if the commissioning groups believe that a “single provider” cannot deliver that service effectively. That is nothing more than a step towards total privatisation.

There are of course massive issues facing our health system: An ever-ageing population puts a huge financial strain on the NHS and long-term conditions, such as obesity and diabetes, could bankrupt the NHS within a decade. Privatisation however is not the answer. Patients will not benefit if our healthcare system is the hands of private companies. Driving down costs should not be the ultimate goal of the NHS; the main priority should be and should always be the well-being of patients.

Privatisation of the NHS is drawing ever closer. The general election in 2015 might be our last opportunity to save our beloved National Health Service. If we as a nation don’t realise how severely under threat the NHS is, it will be too late to do anything about it.