Leicester Campaign Against NHS Privatisation member Robert Ball published an excellent letter in today’s Leicester Mercury (March 30), penned in response to recent tangle of lies previously published by local Tory MP Andrew Bridgen (“NHS must change with the times,” Mercury, March 17).
Robert explains how Mr Bridgen “said the Government would provide the NHS with an additional £10 billion by 2021, but omits to mention the NHS in England has been told to save £22 billion by that date.” Robert continues:
“The level of funding in the health service has not kept up with an ageing population and inflation. Historically, the NHS has received 4 per cent funding increases each year on average to accommodate cost pressures, but the Tories have given only 1 per cent annually on average since 2010. It isn’t difficult to understand why the service is under such pressure. As a result, in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland we face a shortfall of nearly £400 million by 2021.
“Andrew Bridgen believes a failure of primary care is a cause of the record number of admissions at A&E. He then endorses moving care from hospitals into the community – where patients will need more primary care! Like the rest of the NHS, primary care needs proper funding and proper workforce planning. On top of this, since 2010 there has been a £4.6 billion cut in social care funding which the recent Budget only partially addressed.”
Robert then provides details of the hundreds of beds that will be lost from local hospitals as a result of NHS England’s so-called Sustainability Transformation Plan (STP); points out how the Tories “voted against the creation of the NHS in 1946”; and notes how, “The new model of care will attract private providers who work to lower standards and seek shareholder profit, with less money to treat NHS patients.”
A good example of the blatant fire sale of our NHS is then provided by Adam Goddard’s letter that was published in the same issue of the Mercury (“Privatisation is causing stress”). Adam’s letter noted his concern “to hear that yet another vital NHS service is to be taken over by a private company” — referring to the night Nursing community services based at New Parks Health Centre.
Finally, I just want to end by making it clear that worries about an aging population are a red herring as far as threats to the future of our health services are concerned. Feeding this divisive misinformation, Andrew Bridgen wrote in his Mercury article that “an aging population” means “inevitably” that there is “going to be more pressure on the NHS.” But the national campaigning group, Keep our NHS Public, has already exposed the nature of this mammoth, much-repeated lie, in their informative leaflet: “The Myth of the ‘Demographic Time Bomb’” . They write:
“Despite significant ageing of the population and demographic changes, older people have accounted for a relatively small proportion of the increase in spending on health care in the UK.
“While overall spending on health services (between 1965 and 1999) grew by 3.8 per cent a year in real terms, the demographic changes alone accounted for annual real terms growth of just 0.5 per cent a year.
“Less than 15 per cent of the growth in health care spending can therefore be attributed to the cost of meeting the needs of an ageing population. This is in keeping with findings from other countries.”
Importantly, they also add:
“Most medical costs for most people are incurred in the last few months of life, whatever age this happens at. This inevitably means that medical costs for older age groups will be relatively higher than for younger ones. But this has not grown substantially, despite what the government says…”
This leads Keep our NHS Public to correctly conclude:
“Politicians and policy makers use the myth of the ageing population as a cover for poor policy decisions, namely using precious public funds to bail out the banks at the expense of paying for care.”