It has now dawned on just about everybody that the NHS, or what is left of it, is seriously short of sufficient funds to even carry on with the partial, limping service that is provided at present.
Some are advocating raising taxes, which is useful so long as those extra taxes are levied on the rich and are spent on providing the services inside the NHS that we need.
Crucially, the extra money that is required must be given in conjunction with stopping the massive haemorrhage of cash flooding out of the NHS – into the greedy, top-heavy and amazingly parasitic management teams; into private ‘health’ companies taking all the easiest and most profit-raising contracts from the NHS; into ever-growing PFI robbery schemes that cling leach-like to our NHS, sucking the very life from it; and, of course, the thing that has held the NHS hostage since its inception 70 years ago and which has been guilty of raking more cash out of it than any other, the private transnational pharmaceutical monopolies.)
Another answer now comes from the lofty heights of the most powerful of those greedy, top-heavy and amazingly parasitic management teams – namely, NHS England. The medical director of NHS England, Stephen Powis, who has spent less than a year in the job, has proclaimed that he is “eradicating or cutting back on unnecessary or risky procedures”.
Looking at the list of procedures that he wants the health service to cut back on or eradicate altogether, it is difficult to see which he believes to be ‘unnecessary’ and which he regards as ‘risky’ (we presume that risky means time-consuming and therefore costly).
The 17 procedures deemed unnecessary or too time/money consuming are: tonsil removal, breast reduction, snoring surgery, removal of benign skin lesions, grommets for glue ear, haemorrhoid surgery, hysterectomy for heavy menstrual bleeding, chalazia (lesions on eyelids) removal, anthroscopic compression for subacromial shoulder pain, carpal tunnel syndrome release, Dupuytren’s contracture release for tightening of fingers, ganglion excision – removal of noncancerous lumps on the wrist or hand, trigger finger release, varicose vein surgery, injections for non-specific back pain, dilatation and curettage for heavy menstrual bleeding and knee arthroscopies for osteoarthritis.
One has to wonder how many of the painful, stress inducing and/or embarrassing problems that these procedures address our wise Professor, Stephen Powis, has suffered from himself when he calculates that £200m a year could be saved by leaving a lot of poor people in distress.
Of course, far in excess of that figure could be saved by the simple scrapping of the vast layers of ‘unnecessary and risky’ management teams throughout the NHS, but that is obviously not a cost-saving measure that appeals to Stephen Powis and his fellow managerial experts!
Our health service is suffering from a chronic lack of frontline staff, but money is thrown at managers like there is no tomorrow, and, indeed, if the NHS should drop tomorrow and a fully private system replace it, these managers and consultants are well placed to step straight into it (if they are not already involved in one or more of the private companies already hiding under the NHS logo).
Stephen Powis, when revealing his ‘hit list’, said that the initial plans could be just the first round of “weeding out ‘unnecessary’ treatments”, and more could yet be added to his cuts list.
It is rumoured by those in the know that other procedures that might be subjected to cuts in the future could include brain scans for patients with migraines and general anaesthetics for patients with shoulder and hip dislocations.
What seems patently obvious is that the procedures under threat are far from unnecessary, and they will continue to be available at a price in the private sector.
As the prime minister and all the other puppets of the ruling bourgeoisie (Tory, Labour, Lib-Dem, SNP et al) tell us how wonderful the NHS is on its 70th birthday, and reassure us that they will always support it, we only need to look at the reality beyond their weasel words to see that permanent crisis is the true state not only of the NHS but also of every other public service as the needs of the many are thrown overboard for the sake of increased profits for the few.
It is becoming clearer by the day that saving or improving the NHS – or any other service that we consider necessary for the wellbeing of the working class – will take concerted action by organised workers, freed from ties to any of the bourgeois political parties whose first and only loyalty is to the exploiting class.
Ultimately, if we want to preserve those services into the future, we will have no alternative by to overthrow the system of organised greed and replace it with a socialist system that really will deliver a quality of life to all.