Older Mind Matters

Politics and the NHS - creeping privatisation or planned destruction?

I’m quite despondent about the recent general election. I went to a local hustings, although I live in a safe seat so it seemed a bit academic. I’ve never been before and thought it would be interesting. Virtually the only audience reaction was an audible gasp all round the hall, when, in response to a question about “creeping privatisation” of the NHS, the Conservative candidate said flatly “there is no creeping privatisation of the NHS”.

Really? Well, no perhaps there isn’t. Perhaps creeping is the wrong word. Perhaps the question should have been about blatant privatisation, or rampant privatisation, and certainly about unrepentant privatisation. And maybe privatisation is the wrong word too – destruction might be more apt, maybe even planned deliberate destruction: that’s why I’m feeling despondent. I’ve worked in older people’s mental health for a number of years now, and I’ve seen the deterioration in health and social care. For example, at one time the carers of people with dementia could get respite, either day care for the person or a period of care in a Home so that they could take a rest from constant care, perhaps even rotating respite, so that they knew a break would come at a regular interval, helping them to carry on in the intervening period. Now it’s more and more difficult for people to get access to support and advice. Even older people’s mental health has been persuaded to abandon many people, having adopted the belief that people should be discharged from follow up after diagnosis as “there’s nothing we can do”, or they don’t “need” our service, or “we’ve too many people on our books”. Dementia doesn’t go away. Families struggle on until a crisis overtakes them. Is this humane? Is it logical? Is it the way to support people to carry on caring? Is it socially just (dirty words I know)? Chronic illness isn’t illness any more – it’s just a social problem… So that’s all right then!

The British Medical Association has called on all political parties to stop playing games with the NHS: see the link here to No More Games. That’s ok, but it’s doctors, and they can be dismissed as having vested interests. But doctors aren't alone: see here what Unite has to say, and here what the University of Manchester Students Union has to say. These are just a few, and yes, in fact we’ve all got vested interests, and the politicians have most of all! We need a wider movement of people if we want to stop the NHS being used as a political football. It’s our NHS and we all have a vested interest in what happens to it.

Incidentally, I looked up definitions of politics on the internet (memo to self – must buy a good dictionary) and there are several. I was concerned by:
“intrigue or maneuvering within a political unit or a group in order to gain control or power”
(see number 4 in the first list here) and
“any activity concerned with the acquisition of power, gaining one's own ends” (number 5 in the second list here).

No wonder we can’t trust politicians with the NHS!

2 comments (Add your own)

1. Damian Nicell wrote:
Hi Susan. The narrative in your blog is spot on. Privatisations subtle wave, has, is & will be ongoing. The major issues to which you'd raised. Regarding the definition of power. To coin that phrase 'Is bang on!...' I have always had that age old maxim, in the back of my mind. I truly believe politicians are their to serve. Unfortunately the majority follow that 'perverse ideology', of being 'In power' With that, I totally agree with your statement, 'Of not trusting politicians with the NHS!'.

Fri, May 15, 2015 @ 11:47 AM

2. Dave Jolley wrote:
Thanks – I agree. It isn’t my fault – I voted Labour.
The problem is that the country voted for the Conservatives despite the obvious damage that they have done and intend to do to the caring components of our community
I did not go to a husting – I did not need to hear what was to be said – Heard it all on the radio and read some in the papers – In the end the divide has to be between a party which supports ‘every man for himself’ (happy to have that translated to a PC version but I cannot think of one at present) and an alternative ‘all for one and one for all’. I am for the latter for its elegance. The economics are that you/we make it pay. There is lots to say that fair, cohesive society delivers better economy than the self-interest which is peddled so persuasively, but that’s not the reason for doing it – the reason is that it is right.
The NHS, education, welfare – all have been marvellous since the revolution which followed WW 2 – and we have benefitted from the changes which the nation supported at that time. They have lasted well and continue to deliver. It is so sad to see them threatened, undermined, misrepresented and the pretence that they are being protected and supported. Lies and statistics were never more evident.
It is not just the NHS which is under threat of being dismantled – it is a whole way of life. If we are to be effective in turning the tide, I think we have to address the wider front, not be limited to healthcare. Not that I am optimistic – Having lived in privilege for 70 years, I must admit guilt and failure at not succeeding in steering our countries on a good course. I have been content to do what I can in the way that I feel is right and I have believed – perhaps still believe – that this is sufficient/should be sufficient. Animal Farm rings true every day.
The success of the SNP has taken away seats from Labour – their success does show that passion and appeals to people to look after each other do resonate and do achieve a response. Maybe this is a model to be adopted: be brave and risk being dubbed ‘Enemies of the People’ so that truths which are deemed unpalatable and untrue can be given light and breath

Sat, May 16, 2015 @ 8:59 AM

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