Despite spending long years in opposition quite rightly defending the NHS, and winning the 1997 election in part on a promise to save it, New Labour developed a set of reforms that brought private interest into the NHS in a manner that went well beyond the already demented dreams of Margaret Thatcher. Allyson Pollocks brilliantly argued and well sourced book describes how this happened, the forces that were behind the "modernisation" policy, and the short term and long-term ramifications of it for the NHS, in a prose that is clear and comprehensible for the general reader.
When the Labour party was voted into office in 1997 there was absolutely no way that the vast majority of those who elected them were voting for this policy of piece-meal break-up and privatisation of the NHS. The Orwellian nature of the language that was used to mask the realities of the "modernisation" project; the plethora of public relations personnel and endless spinning involved; the bullying and cajoling of opponents of the reform (including Allyson Pollock herself) all speak volumes for the lack of any popular mandate. So much for British democracy.
Pollock details the growing effects of "modernisation" on many NHS services including hospitals, GP's, and long term care for the elderly, and makes a cogent case for the negative effects that the marketisations, commodifications, and privatisations have had on the viability of our National Health Service. In short, the private sector wanted, and largely got, a cut of the NHS's revenues to boost their turnover and profits without incurring even a minimal amount of risk. In a way it is rather reminiscent of the cost-plus contracts that the Bush administration awarded by the bucket load in Iraq. The whole edifice has undoubtedly been kept on it's feet by the increase in funding for the NHS - God alone knows what will happen as public spending stagnates in the coming years?
"NHS plc" is a damning indictment of the New Labour project, and contains more commitment to public service than Blair, Brown, et al exhibited in their thirteen years of power. Well recommended and vital reading.