Thatcher’s Legacy of NHS Butchery

When a vicious ruling-class warrior dies, the working class rejoice. But sadly Margaret Thatcher’s vile capitalist legacy lives on; now within even the body politic of the Labour Party, which like the Tories has worked hard to dismantle the NHS.

Part of Thatcher’s legacy has recently come to fruition here in Leicester, which recently saw corporate profiteer Interserve plc win a seven-year contract worth up to £700 million to run the services for the Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust, University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and the Leicester City, Leicestershire County and Rutland Primary Care Trust Cluster.

According to Interserve, this lucrative deal “represents the first time a group of trusts have joined together to manage facilities across all local NHS services, including health centres, hospitals and community services.”  So who one might ask are Interserve, and what is the Thatcher connection?

Employing over 50,000 people worldwide, Interserve consider themselves to be one of the “world’s foremost support services and construction companies.” The Thatcher connection then comes through their chairman, Lord Norman Blackwell, who was the former head of John Major’s Prime Ministerial Policy Unit (from 1995-1997), and is a current board member (and former chair) of the Centre for Policy Studies.

The Centre for Policy Studies is a right-wing think tank that was set up by Thatcher and her elitist friends in 1974 to force government policy ever further towards the interests of big business. The Centre has always maintained a special hatred of the NHS, and in 1988 they published a sickening pamphlet called “Britain’s Biggest Enterprise: Ideas for Radical Reform of the NHS.” A pamphlet that “provides a coherent justification for the trajectory of change to the NHS that we have seen implemented by the governments in power since that time.”

In the same year, the coauthor of this pamphlet, John Redwood, penned the preface for a book titled Privatising the World. This book…

includes a ten-page guideline for privatising public assets against the wishes of the electorate, a formula which has been faithfully followed in the case of our health care system. The recommendations focus strongly on misdirection and misinformation, tactics in this case evidenced by the government’s justification for the reform as necessary to improve substandard health outcomes and the comparative costliness of the NHS system: neither of these assertions is supported by the evidence.

Needless to say, John Redwood, who previously headed the international privatisation unit for pioneering privatisers NM Rothschild and Sons Bank, has made sure that his good buddies have reaped handsome profits from the brutal dismemberment of one of the world’s most efficient and well-supported health service providers.

Lord Blackwell and his colleagues at Interserve are of course just a few of the many members of the ruling-class to profit from the demise of the NHS. And another corporate giant intimately involved with Interserve’s most recent venture in Leicestershire is Capita Symonds, which in this case is acting as Interserve’s supply-chain provider. [1] Capita Symonds being a wholly-owned division of Capita Group, which refers to itself as “the UK’s leading business process outsourcing (BPO) and professional services company.” [2]

Here one might observe that the current chairman of Capita Group, Martin Bolland, is a former board member of Four Seasons Health Care — “the UK’s largest independent elderly and specialist care provider.” Last year this healthcare profiteer was acquired by the private equity vulture Terra Firma, a firm that Tony Blair’s former policy advisor, Lord John Birt, went to work for when he left Downing Street in late 2005.

When Terra Firma acquired Four Seasons Health Care in 2012 they quickly appointed Ian Smith as Four Seasons’ new CEO. Smith’s resume being perfect for such an important role as he recently served as the CEO of the leading construction company Taylor Woodrow plc (which is now known as Taylor Wimpey and is chaired by Kevin Beeston, the concurrent chairman of Serco Group), and prior to that had served as the CEO of General Healthcare Group — which is the UK’s leading private sector provider of health care services.

Finally another particularly notable Thatcherite healthcare profiteer of relevance to this article is John Allan, who is the chairman of Care UK Health & Social Care Holdings – which is the parent company of the notorious Care UK plc (see “Healthcare for the Few”). [3] Here connections can be made to both Lord Blackwell and the Centre for Policy Studies, as Allan is also the chairman of Dixons Retail plc, a company which includes Lord Blackwell as one of their former board members, and whose founder and life president, Sir Stanley Kalms, is the former treasurer of the Centre for Policy Studies.

The working-class are quite right to celebrate Thatcher’s death, but her deadly legacy remains with us. Therefore, it is vital that such celebrations be used to facilitate a fight-back against the violent privatisation of the world. Through building a democratic movement that is capable of creating a government that is truly representative of the working class, such party-goers will be able to look forward to the biggest party of all time… the one that marks the creation of a socialist society that is capable of providing justice for all and not just for a few.

Notes

[1] Chris Booy, who is the chairman of Capita Symonds, is a board member of the major energy corporation, Dalkia — which is a subsidiary of the none-to-human-friendly Veolia Environnement Group (see “Privatising Life: Veolia’s Anti-human Mission”).

[2] Rich Benton one of the founders of Capita Group is presently the chairman of big society pioneer, UnLtd — The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs (see “Big Society Charity: Capitalist Philanthropy in the UK”).

[3] One should observe that Belinda Moore, who is Care UK’s group marketing director, relocated to this position after acting as the group sales and marketing director for the General Healthcare Group.

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