Politics: How to take advantage of an economic crisis to destroy a National Health Service

What is killing the NHS; austerity or the deficit? #MSBlog #MSRsearch #MSPolitics

Western governments under the auspices of the world bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have long histories of running budget deficits and reducing public spending. Every time there is a crisis the story is pretty similar; the globalized corporate media undermine the institutions that are at the sharp end of the budget cuts. Public schooling in America in the 1980s underwent sustained attack, with California’s world renowned system crowded out by the private sector. Similarly the NHS not only receives little or no attention at critical junctures, but is also actively undermined by corporate media. The BBC in particular has shown willful dismissal of an issue that it understands has democratic significance. After many months of silence, the NHS came up on the BBC’s  Question time (a UK political show) last week, however this was to discuss the viability of Lord Warner’s proposal to charge a flat rate of 10 pounds per month for the NHS. The issue is neither willful neglect nor ignorance. It is that mainstream intellectual opinion has actually been swayed by the argument for austerity as divergent class interests have been brought to the fore. 

Industries have been built up around the need for Governments to consciously manufacture the decline of unwanted public services. Mckinsey & Co (a global management consultancy company) are advising the Government at the moment and this will include everything from public representation to self sabotage. It was recently portrayed the BBC as an attempt by the Government to help ‘leaders’ deal with ‘failing’ institutions. While the NHS and doctors are constantly demonized, moral lessons are drawn from non-statistical anomalies like Harold Shipman (a serial killer NHS doctor), the media start talking about the inefficiency of the public sector or some other absurdity. We saw this with Mike Phillpott and benefits, it is as cynical as it is untrue.

After the crisis we were told that the markets would fret about Britain as a business proposition because of its debt to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio. We needed harsh austerity to bring the deficit down. As a result the NHS would face serious challenges. Except austerity slows growth, and has enforced a continuously increasing loss of output that will difficult to regain. It my opinion austerity might be the main cause of the NHS’ current woes, not the deficit.

Secondly, needless to say, the crisis was not caused by public spending or a deficit. In other words, the NHS did not cause the crisis. The crisis was an international financial crisis. The Government used the crisis to enforce austerity and privatization for largely ideological reasons. 

So if you want to take advantage of a financial crisis in order to make most people poorer for ideological reasons, privatizing health systems to make rich people richer, you need an intellectual class that is subservient to power, shady corporations specializing in deceit and a Cabinet with a keen imagination and an eye for spinning a narrative that allows little room for constructive discussion.

About the author

max faulkner


  • Surely the private sector can provide what the NHS currently does, but only better and more efficiently. I would recommend that the government privatises itself; private sector incentives are the only way to drive through the sort of efficiency gains we need to make the NHS competitive with itself. At the moment it is a lumbering giant.

  • I'll be 30 this summer. All my life I have lived under the culture of privatisation, the argument being it's better and more efficient and fairer. In my lifetime that's been proved wrong: prices have gone up and services are poorer. Keep the NHS as it is, please.

  • There's no good evidence that the NHS is inefficient as it is. For some sectors it seems that privitisation doesn't necessarily work all that well. The railways seem to be a good example, requiring large subsidies to allow private companies to continue to operate.

    If we're heading towards a system like the US, we will only get increasingly poor value for money with absolutely no guarantee of improved care. The statistics for healthcare spending and health outcomes in the States are awful. I'm sure some in the US would claim that their best institutions have fantastic results – and you'd have to pay a high cost for them. When it pans out to whole population outcomes the US is not a system to admire or replicate.

    "No top down re-organisation of the NHS" rings in my ears every time I think about to havoc the Tories are trying to wreak on healthcare in this country. I think there should be implications for election promises that are completely and utterly broken when a party gets into power. I'm not saying that the private sector has no role, it's just the way they are bringing it about seems extremely ill thought out.

By max faulkner



Recent Posts

Recent Comments