Tag Archives: Privatisation

NHS: Privatisation Will Destroy It!

My tribute to Mr Tim O’Brien, one of this country’s leading surgeons, his colleagues and staff at the Urological Centre, Guys and St Thomas’s NHS Trust London and ALL members of the NHS. In sharing my recent experiences here I am NOT seeking sympathy, although I know it is there, but use it to demonstrate how Privatisation of the NHS can only destroy it and Society as well. J T Coombes

Last May I was diagnosed with three cysts on my kidneys. Not unusual as 4 out of 10 people have them but one of mine had burst and another was the size of a small melon, with dark shading.

The senior consultant at my local NHS Trust told me this was out of their league and referred me to Mr O’Brien. At our first meeting he told me the picture was not good as mine were the worst set of scans he had seen in a long time, immediately countering this by then saying “But that is what we do”. This was the first meeting at which the word ‘cancer’ had been used and his words and manner reassured me I was in the best hands.

At the next meeting, following more tests and clearer scans, the atmosphere changed dramatically and the view was I had a better than average chance of staying off a dialysis machine and given my level of fitness, 5 hours of surgery could resolve the problem.

Sadly there were complications and it took 8 hours of surgery to remove the large tumour, leaving a smaller one to be dealt with later. 10 days later I returned home and the operation was judged a success in spite of its complex nature. (Mr O’Brien confided that he had carried out 1100 operations and this was in the top 20 for complexity. He was not boasting and talked with a humble pride and enthusiasm for the work he had carried out.)

It was then that I realised this man, his colleagues and staff are only motivated by a passionate desire to heal people like me. At our second meeting, when he realised we had a chance of success, his excitement at the challenge was obvious from his body language and words.

In my time at Guys I found I had left my world of fighting, through my writing, the neoliberal world of bankers and politicians, whose shallow values are bringing Society to its knees and entered a world of Professionalism, Integrity, Dedication and Care of the highest order.

I came to realise that ‘Privatising’ this work can add NOTHING to what these amazing people do. Indeed the thought that there are people out there who would like to make a profit out of the challenges I and many others face fills me with deep repugnance.

Will profit improve our surgeon’s abilities and work ethic? Will profit make the processes of our healthcare service more efficient? Will privatisation broaden our healthcare service? A service that cares for Society will be impregnated by cold ‘uncaring’ business ethics.

Decisions will be reached by cost considerations not care. Costs to the users will become more expensive to provide the necessary profits, alienating those who really need support because they can’t afford it. Health CARE will become a Health COMPANY seeking profit from the challenges we face.

Just suppose I could only afford a healthcare policy that funded 5 hours of major surgery in anyone year. What would have happened when the surgeon went in and discovered it would take 8 hours? Would the decision be made to simply remove both kidneys and put me on dialysis for the remainder of my life because I had inadequate insurance? Would the 3 staff to 1 patient in the Critical Care Unit I attended directly after surgery be reduced to 1 to save on overheads?

In this seamy world profit will dictate who gets care, who does not and the level of care will be constantly under scrutiny. Nowhere within the values of the Hippocratic Oath is there any mention of profit and people do not enter the profession for this purpose.

It takes 15 years to qualify as a consultant surgeon, making them a special breed of people with dedication and high moral sense and genuine care for their fellow men and women, something our politicians and corporations are now seeking to ‘pimp’ a profit from.

And what happens as the need for profit growth continues? Would the quality of medicines and equipment be compromised for the sake of profit and would surgeons and staff be expected to work longer hours, with the subsequent raising of tiredness levels that could put patients at risk?

I believe that the manner in which Society looks after it’s infirm and those struggling with life is a measure of that Society’s self-esteem. Currently our NHS is a glowing example of just how high that self-esteem is.

The efforts of our politicians to destroy that self-esteem, by callously manipulating budgets to turn that care and compassion into a profit centre, will pull down and eventually destroy our Society. Unregulated Capitalism is eroding the very bedrock of morality inherent in any Society and must be brought back under control by a strong and reinvigorated democracy, something that seems to be birthing now in Greece, Spain, the UK and other countries.


Until the next time


P.S. Latest blood test show the repaired kidney is functioning near normal and so the dialysis machine has been kicked over the cliff!  I am getting stronger each day and the need to prepare for more surgery in November means future posts will be erratic until early next year.

. . . But it’s lovely to be back!!

The NHS is Society’s Responsibility

Nigel Farage tells us the “NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance” which means there is no political salvation from this lunacy, even from the new kid on the block. Westminster truly has lost the plot in avoiding its responsibilities to the people.

Let’s get right back to basics and remember that this is a SUPPORT SERVICE to Society. It is a non-profit insurance scheme which is paid for by that Society in the sure knowledge that, like any good insurance policy, it will look after ALL of its members in times of hardship without fear of fault or favour.

We have an aging population that all parties have been aware of for a very long time and which they have systematically and irresponsibly buck passed on to the next incumbent, ensuring we arrive at the mess we are now in. Healthcare is a moral issue, not political or financial and demonstrates the level of care Society has towards its sick, old and infirm. Currently that caring is being torn apart by the profit and greed of unregulated Capitalism!

This has been made abundantly clear from the experience in America in particular, where the very people who need the support cannot get it because they cannot afford it, or are not acceptable to insurance companies. Profit is ‘Playing God’ (often by tick boxes!) in discriminating who it can make money from and who it will allow to suffer, or die!

We are being dragged, kicking and screaming, towards the US experience by a Parliament who is obligated by one of the many conditions of the ‘Austerity Measures’ imposed when taking on an ever growing mountain of debt we have not authorised. We are in the grip of career politicians who care little about this country and its people, in their desperate attempts to remain in power at any cost.

What is so repugnant to me is there is no respect for people in any of what we are now experiencing. This Unregulated Capitalism not only makes profits from employees and consumers but also now looks to make profits from them when they are sick.

After a lifetime of working for one, or a number of companies, those same companies seek to shrug off the responsibility they have to repay their workers with a secure retirement they have earned from contributing to those companies’ profits as those very same consumers and employees.

I would suggest, that we should be coming at this problem from a totally different direction than a parliament that increasingly cow-tows to their corporate masters. By looking at our current financial systems and recognising that money is no longer our servant, we can see that it is being encouraged to become our master, focussing entirely upon subduing and controlling us through debt – Greece, Portugal, Spain and Italy are perfect examples.

By following the example of strong leadership in Peru and other Latin American countries we need to confront the very core of the problem first and foremost. Once we take control of printing our own money, instead of borrowing it from banks at a horrendous cost in interest and debt obligations, of which the NHS is but one such abuse, we are in a position to become masters of our own destiny. The interest alone we are paying would go a long way to funding a health service the rest of the world would be envious of.

In this, an election year, I am dumb founded that our political parties are pussyfooting around the perimeter of this problem by pursuing ‘business models’ as the solution to the care profession.

Such is this irresponsibility that patients are dying unnecessarily and the morale of our conscientious doctors and nurses is on the floor, driving many of them to emigrate to a more supportive environment. Not one of our leaders seems embarrassed by this national disgrace, given what we have invested in training these wonderful people, only now to abuse and lose them.

Fighting and arguing about the many individual abuses within the health service will only allow politicians to counter-argue that privatisation is the solution. It has to be attacked from the fundamental core issue of debt ladened obligation that is making our governments increasingly more secretive and ‘economical with the truth’ on the direction they are forcing us to follow.

Left and Right can offer no way out because they have created the problem by systematically ignoring it. People must demand their power back this May by supporting the party that will introduce People Driven Referendums on any and everything there is sufficient interest in.

I bet the NHS would be the subject commanding the number 1 position . . . and then something could be done by the people for the people!


Until the next time


Thinking from his Book: Global Magna Carta. Returning Power to the 99% . . . If They Want It!  By J T Coombes