Wes Streeting’s remarks today to the Kings Fund that he won’t “pour more resources” into the NHS are deeply worrying. As Labour’s health affiliate, the Socialist Health Association is clear that a significant funding boost is required to rebuild the NHS which has been run into the ground by successive Tory governments. We are calling on the Labour Leadership to set out a new vision for a renationalised, well-resourced NHS according to its founding principles as established by the post-war Labour government.
Funding for healthcare has collapsed during the years of austerity, with Britain’s NHS now severely underfunded in comparison to other Western European countries. Since Thatcher, the NHS has increasingly been saddled with a costly health market, with public money diverted to private operators. From PFI initiatives to contracts for private corporations, billions of pounds are wasted supporting private profits instead of directly supporting a public healthcare system on the brink.
By 2010 a Commons Select Committee reported transaction costs of the market to be as high as 14%. With today’s healthcare budget of £257 billion the savings to be made by returning to a universal publicly provided NHS are absolutely colossal. This is what the SHA is calling for.
We are disappointed that Wes Streeting is not making such a proposal.
Diverting resources from secondary care to shore up primary care is not the answer to the current crisis. The market in healthcare must be dismantled to free up billions for front line services.
Wes Streeting is absolutely right to offer solutions to the appalling crisis in health care but it is essential that Labour’s policies are directed at re-establishing the NHS on the Bevan principles as founded by the Labour Party of a fully comprehensive, publicly funded and publicly provided NHS.
The SHA is very willing to discuss these issues further with the shadow health team in a spirit of constructive problem solving.