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Cabaret activist urges Mancunians to oppose latest NHS privatisation ruse

A novel cabaret approach to political education around our health service, urged the audience to get involved and oppose the incremental privatisation of our NHS.

With songs and anecdotes recalling his past few years of “accidental activism”, Steven Carne entertained and informed the crowd at the Anthony Burgess Foundation, last Friday. He set the show off with the story of the epic 2016 March For The NHS, taken in the footsteps of the Jarrow March. The songs in the show he performed with a passion to rival that of his love for the NHS, and a desire to see it remain a health service for all, which he stressed should be “free at the point of use”.

The show took us on the long incremental journey of sacrificing our NHS at the altar of the markets, starting back in the mid-1980s, when cleaners were the very first NHS workers to have their jobs carved up for the privateers.

Steven Carne performing at the Anthony Burgess Centre in Manchester. Photo: The Meteor

Carne was particularly keen for us to follow proceedings, starting today, at The Royal Courts Of Justice, when campaign group 999 Call For The NHS will challenge the lawfulness of a new clause in NHS contracts which threatens to radically alter the way in which NHS funding works. The latest in a long line of Tory-inspired moves to strangle the NHS of essential resources.

The controversy is due to “Whole Population Annual Payments” clause, included in “Accountable Care Organisation Contracts”. Sounds dull enough to dissuade anyone from finding out what’s going on, but campaigners say they are pernicious and unlawful.

The introduction of Accountable Care Organisations in the UK health system were first suggested in a 2005 policy publication authored by Jeremy Hunt and other Tory MPs. The document contained an outline for an insurance based system to replace the NHS, which it stated would have the effect off “denationalising the provision of health care in Britain.”

“Accountable Care” has had to be rebranded as “Integrated Care” because it sounds (and is) very like systems used in the US, where massive corporations are licking their lips at the prospect of hoovering up our health budgets in post Brexit trade deals. The campaign website explains:

“This is a new business model for health and social care based on the USA’s Medicare/Medicaid – which only provides limited basic healthcare for people who are too poor or ill to get private health insurance.

“We see the jigsaw pieces coming together as the NHS Quangos are determined to shrink the NHS and turn it into an American-style healthcare system.

“You know how the dentist works… that’s what the NHS will become unless we demand MPs stop the handover to big business NOW.”

 

The Tories try to convince us of their frugal economic competence by chronically underfunding the NHS, yet at the same time they are introducing a US like healthcare system. The US system is by far the most expensive in the world.

Greater Manchester has seen health provision deteriorate under austerity. There is extra concern that devolution will be used to facilitate more steps towards fuller marketisation. But there has been recent success too, as campaigners reported that “virtual appointments” with GPs had been “chased out” locally.

With so many other issues on the political agenda, and corporate media’s decades of failure to report what is happening to our NHS, Mancunians are urged to find out more and spread the word.

 

Steven Durrant

 999 Call for the NHS – click here      

Twitter: @999callforNHS

Feature image:  999 Call for the NHS promotional image

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