Matt Hancock’s announcement that he plans to dismantle Public Health England to establish a corporate orientated alternative is totally in keeping with the Tories willingness to stand reality upon its head. As always the Tories plans might as well be those of the fraudulent corporate profiteers that they recruited to mismanage their track and trace programs — plans whose real aim appears to be to simply enrich corporate profiteers like SERCO and SITEL while undermining our country’s already criminally underfunded public health system.
Professor Christina Marriott, the chief executive of the Royal Society for Public Health fears that the changes will mean “we are in danger of losing really good staff when we need them most” (BBC Radio 4, August 18). Yet she continued…
“…my biggest concern is that this decision has been made ahead of the inquiry the Prime Minster has promised us into what has gone so badly wrong in England’s response to Covid. And without inquiry in a complex system like pandemic response, we cannot learn that lessons that will allow us to protect the publics health better in any future wave. So just abolishing, or amalgamating, or merging in one organisation doesn’t address the multiple failings across different organisations that led to our incredibly high mortality rate, the highest in Western Europe.”
Professor Marriott’s cool, calm, and scathing criticism of Hancock’s latest act of flagrant pandemic profiteering (my words not hers), led her to go on to state:
“I would question whether this is a response to all of the problems that we have had in our Covid-response. We have had problems around the timing of lockdown, we’ve had problems around messaging, we’ve had problems around our testing capacity, we’ve had problems actually very much in that the track and trace system that is branded as the NHS but is actually SERCO is still massively underperforming, it is not as effective as it should be.
“So, it would strike me that you would rather sort those problems out before going into a system reorganisation. We need to learn the lessons of what’s happened in the past, and one of the lessons that we need to learn is to fund public health well, because between 2015-16 and today, Public Health [England] in real terms lost £800 million in annual budget, which is 22 per cent, and you can’t do world-beating pandemic responses when you just don’t have the budget; and you don’t find out about your budget until two weeks before the end of the financial year which is what happened to Public Health [England] earlier this year. So, the government should more be concentrating on establishing under their spending review a substantial medium-term settlement for all of Public Health and allowing it to do its job.”
Enough is enough. This government has been killing the working-class for years and are now implementing changes that will only intensify the carnage for both health workers and for the general public!
As a member of Socialist Alternative I actively support the demands for pay rises for NHS and care workers. But we also need to protect our NHS and care workers by putting in place a fully functioning test and trace programme.
- Bring all test and trace services in house. No compensation for SERCO or SITEL
- For an immediate public inquiry independent of government and composed of trade union representatives and health experts into the Tories’ mishandling of the Covid-19 pandemic
- Renationalise the NHS, under democratic control and ownership of workers. Don’t repeat the mistakes of the past by leaving representatives of capitalism in control. Kick out ALL the profiteers
- Bring the pharmaceutical industry under public ownership to ensure an efficient and joined up response to producing a vaccine
- Pay NHS and care workers what they deserve. For an immediate 15% pay rise as a step toward correcting the loss of pay over the last decade