"NHS SOS: How the NHS was betrayed - and how we can save it" is a collection of writing on the Coalitions NHS deforms ably put together by Dr Jackie Davis and Prof Raymond Tallis to enlighten the general public on what the implications of the reforms are, a task that the mainstream media have unsurprisingly failed to accomplish.
After a short foreword from Ken Loach, and an introduction to the book and the issues covered by Raymond Tallis, we have John Lister's (see Health Policy Reform: Global Health Versus Private Profit) opening chapter "Breaking the Public Trust" which makes clear that the Coalition has absolutely no mandate for their "reforms" (it was in neither parties manifestos nor in the coalition agreement) and summarises the main thrust of them which is far from the GP led health service that has featured so prominently in public discourse.
Stewart Player (see The Plot Against the NHS &Confuse and Conceal) in "Ready for the Market" looks into how the NHS was re-engineered over many years to the stage where it could be essentially consumed by private sector interests. He is perhaps a little confusing though undoubtedly this reflects the ad hoc, underhand and opportunistic nature of the private sectors penetration of the NHS. In "Parliamentary Bombshell" Dr David Wrigley charts the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary progress of the Coalitions Health Bill, revealing the arrogance of power, and if anyone was in any doubt, the spineless supine-ness of Shirley Williams.
Dr Jacky Davis and Dr Wrigley go on in "The Silence of the Lambs" to dissect the actions of those who are supposed to represent Consultants, Doctors and Nurses (the BMA and the Royal Colleges) and tells a story which at best paints them as naïve in their engagement with the Coalition, and at worst as complicit, undemocratic collaborators. Retired GP and former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Dr Charles West's "A Failure of Politics" reports from inside the Liberal Democrat camp, and makes crystal clear the manipulative, duplicitous and undemocratic nature of the parties parliamentary leadership. West also takes a look at conflicts of interests within parliament, noting that 70 MP's and 142 Peers have interests in the private health sector, probably a somewhat higher ratio than one would expect amongst voters, and perhaps indicative of who these MP's and Peers really represent - not the people but private interests.
Oliver Huitson, a co-editor of the British section of the OpenDemocracy website (& contributor to Public Service on the Brink) examines the lamentable record of the media's coverage of the Coalitions Health Bill. The focus is on the BBC's poor performance, including its practically non-existent coverage of the conflicts of interests of those Peers and MP's connected to the private health sector, and their endless regurgitation of Coalition slogans in lieu of informed analysis, not to mention labelling industry funded "think" tanks as independent! Even the Mail and Torygraph come out better (but not by much).
Prof Allyson Pollock (see NHS Plc: The Privatisation of Our Health Care) and David Price dissect the Coalitions Health Bill in "From Cradle to Grave" and make clear its implications: the destruction of the NHS, power devolved onto unaccountable private bodies who may ration treatments and choose patients at their pleasure. Those parts of the NHS that the private sector is not interested in (eg. Mental Health) are to be transferred to Local Authorities, the very same Local Authorities who have faced the biggest spending cuts under the Coalitions Austerity Regime (basically a feel-good name for an off the IMF shelf Structural Adjustment Program). Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis finish with an excellent guide to saving the NHS from destruction which includes many resources and contacts for those who wish to fight back against this miserable and mendacious Coalitions policies. This is a book that Id strongly recommend, in particular to those in England as the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is thus far free from the most pernicious aspects of privatisation, though as a precautionary measure it is no doubt relavent in those countries too as doubtlessly once the private sector has their snouts well and truly in the NHS trough they will look to expand their operations over the borders.
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