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From The Socialist newspaper, 9 February 2006

NHS - hands off our GP services!

PRIVATISATION OF General Practice is Labour's latest act of destruction of the NHS. In the former North Derbyshire coalfield and inner-city Derby, two General Practices are being put out to tender. The giant US company, United Health Europe (UHE), has been named "preferred bidder."

Dr Jon Dale

At a meeting in the village of Whaley Thorns, over 100 residents and local health workers heard that United Health has no experience of running primary care. John Lister from 'Keep our NHS Public' told the meeting that they scored zero on seven of the 11 criteria drawn up for the tender.

So why did North Derbyshire Primary Care Trust (PCT) choose this company's European subsidiary, UHE, beating 18 tenders - some from well-respected local GPs? UHE's Chief Executive is Simon Smith, formerly Blair's health adviser, who drew up government policies at 10 Downing Street. Now he's moved out to line his own pockets from them.

John Lister said that the government was re-creating an internal market in the NHS. PCTs were being merged and would control large sums of public money. In Oxfordshire, the government tried to privatise all the PCTs with a combined budget of £600 million. Every county and city has similar sums to spend.

UHE and other corporations want to "funnel public funds into their coffers" and taking over these general practices gets UHE's foot in the door - "a sprat to catch a mackerel"

UHE promised that it would improve services but several people described the lack of service for several years since their old GPs retired. Any service in their village would be an improvement and it didn't need a US company to run it for profit.

Dr. Phil Greville, secretary to the Derbyshire Local Medical Committee representing GPs, was applauded when he said he hadn't voted at the last election as "there was no party standing socialist enough for him."

Most people saw that this giant corporation were only out for themselves and their shareholders. An ex-miner said: "An American, Ian MacGregor, took our jobs away [closing the pits]. Now another American company is taking us to our graves."

As a Socialist Party member said, what we need now is a campaign to be set up and linked with the many other local campaigns fighting to save the NHS.

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

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In The Socialist 9 February 2006:

End the occupation

Socialists must build a united workers' movement to fight divisions

Bush not going Green

Strike for pension rights

Victory for trade union militancy

NHS - hands off our GP services!

Fighting the far-right BNP

Get organised, get active!

Campaign for a New Workers' Party

Venezuela: Women occupy Caracas factory

Venezuela: We are a mighty river

Sri Lanka: Back from the brink of war?

Are Trotsky’s ideas of socialist revolution still relevant today?


 

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