Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page:

From The Socialist newspaper, 22 October 2014

Private companies hold NHS to ransom

Capitalist firms eager for massive profits are targeting vital services such as health, regardless of the consequences.

Pharmaceutical firms make fortunes at the cost of NHS patients and workers. Suppliers of essential supplies, hospital buildings and information technology charge the health service a fortune for their wares.

Socialists demand the end of PFI schemes, the nationalisation of the major drugs firms, medical supplies companies and huge IT companies, and that they should be run under democratic working class control and management.

Andrew Howe

In April, the government paid 5.5 million of taxpayers' money to multinational tech giant Microsoft, securing the public sector one year of "custom support" for Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, plus other software. These are widely used across the NHS.

An operating system runs a computer's basic functions, on top of which more complex software, such as word processors or web browsers, can run. The NHS in England alone currently has over a million desktop PCs and laptops using Microsoft's dated Windows XP operating system.

Support for it ended last April. Lacking such support could put users at risk, as major security problems would be left unresolved. NHS computers could have potentially been attacked by malicious individuals, and data lost or stolen.

So the Department of Health negotiated with Microsoft to buy a year of extra support but after that, new software will have to be bought at additional cost.

Why didn't the government take action sooner? The cut-off date for support was known well in advance. One problem facing the NHS is that it treats individual GPs, health trusts, and other health organisations independently, and expects them to maintain their own IT systems.

Many hundreds of applications are used within the NHS, such as the 'Choose and Book' appointment system, that were coded using proprietary Microsoft technology which is no longer supported.

The government and public sector is at the mercy of multinationals like Microsoft. Alternatives exist, free and open source software (FOSS). Such software is created and maintained by individuals and organisations globally and can be used, modified, and distributed for free.

The NHS could have moved to FOSS years ago as part of a structured and organised approach across the public sector, and avoided the current situation. Attempts were made to pass legislation to encourage its use in the UK, but what little legislation was passed was significantly watered down to let big business keep dominating the market.

Socialists should encourage the use of free and open software, to meet the needs of society, and not to fill the coffers of global tech giants.

Mental health - the system needs changing

Carol Richardson

Under the present iniquitous system, people diagnosed with long-term dementia (who can be in their 50s or earlier) are asked to fund their own long term care. Long term care for non-mental health conditions is provided free under NHS rules. Dementia patients are unfairly means-tested, so hundreds of thousands are forced to sell what they have to fund their care, which can last until their death.

Mental health breakdown in general has dramatically increased, mostly because the capitalist system targets the poor, youth and the helpless. It punishes people unable to cope on zero-hour contracts or to find work with sanctions or total withdrawal of benefits.

One woman, punished and broken by the bedroom tax, went on to hang herself. Another woman was talked down by ambulance workers and mental health staff from throwing herself off a bridge. These show the intolerable stress causing mental health problems brought about by capitalist injustice.

Anyone sectioned under the mental health act can be sent to the other end of the country, as hospitals are bursting at the seams. Relatives can't afford to visit so the patient is left totally alone just when they most need family support.

Undoubtedly mental ill health can affect anyone, but it affects most those with no voice to resist the cruel system. People with mental health issues are targeted as failures but the system breaks them with stresses, producing feelings of hopelessness. It happened to me once.

The underfunded, unfair mental health system needs changing. Under socialism, the whole NHS would be nationalised and equally funded. Social justice would mean that unfair pressure would ease and poor, sick, helpless and elderly people would cease to be castigated and demonised.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.

In The Socialist 22 October 2014:

Britain needs a pay rise

Priced out? Strike back!

100,000 march against cuts and for a wage rise

The unions' pay battle must continue

Socialist Party news and analysis

50 years of socialist ideas and workers' struggle

Where's our recovery?

Socialist change to halt climate change

A Freudian slip?

Undercover cops report - a whitewash

Them & Us

International socialist news and analysis

Ebola outbreak: one face of austerity

International day of action for abortion rights in Ireland

Socialist Party workplace news

PCS members again show anti-austerity determination

"No Raise - No Rays!" - say radiographers

POA hospital workers join public sector strike wave

St Mungo's Broadway strikers stage 19 pickets

Care UK strikers lobby Miliband for public support

Sheffield green workers' unofficial walkout

WEA tutors' victory

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Leicester council hits homeless hostel

Reckless Ukip circus

Anti-eviction success!

Save Bitterne walk-in centre!

Socialist Party "part of political landscape"

Readers' comments

Local services suffer under Welsh Labour

Hedge fund owners will never blush

Private companies hold NHS to ransom


Home   |   The Socialist 22 October 2014   |   Join the Socialist Party

Subscribe   |   Donate   |   Audio  |   PDF  |   ebook

Related links:


triangleIrish health workers' anger boils over into strike action

triangleEven social-care bosses say cuts have gone too far

triangleWest London Socialist Party: The mental health crisis

triangleCharging scandal in Warrington and Halton NHS Trust

triangleThem & Us


triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: Do trade deals threaten the NHS?

triangleBradford: Unison members strike to stay 100% NHS

triangleMidlands mental health workers walk out against privatisation

triangleCaerphilly Socialist Party: The threat to the NHS from capitalist trade deals

Mental health:

triangleFrance Telecom: Privatisation in the dock

triangle300 NHS nurse suicides in seven years - fully fund our health service now!

triangleReader's comment: mental health under capitalism


triangleThe landowning establishment

triangleWhat way forward to tackle climate change?

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments



TV: Years and Years - Engaging family drama pushes confused, reactionary message



The Socialist inbox



The Socialist inbox


Nuclear power

Opinion: capitalism's Fukushima showed same recklessness as Stalinism's Chernobyl



Defend free TV licences for over-75s!



The Socialist Inbox



TV Review: Chernobyl - Workers' heroism vs sclerotic Stalinism



The Socialist Inbox


George Orwell

70 years since the publication of Nineteen Eighty-Four: "But if there was hope, it lay in the proles"



The Socialist Inbox


Climate change

Opinion: socialists must link climate struggle to power of organised workers



The Socialist Inbox



May 1649 - the Last Stand of the Levellers



The Socialist Inbox



'Line of Duty' - twists and turns as organised crime meets police corruption

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...

Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube



Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777


Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 0798 202 1969

East Mids: 0773 797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 0784 114 4890

North West 07769 611 320

South East: 020 8988 8777

South West: 07759 796 478

Southern: 07833 681910

Wales: 07935 391 947

West Mids: 02476 555 620

Yorkshire: 0114 264 6551



Alphabetical listing

July 2019

June 2019

May 2019

April 2019

March 2019

February 2019

January 2019