If you've been following news about the NHS recently you'll have heard about the government's moves to privatise the national health service; that many NHS trusts are in millions of pounds of debts, that the number of beds is going down and Doctors are being sacked because NHS trusts can't find the money to pay their salaries. At the same time we're constantly hearing the Labour government claiming that they've been plowing money into the NHS like never before - much more than how much the Tories invested in it.. so whats up?
You'll find the answer when you study what is called the Private Finance Initiative. This is the government's attempt to "improve" public services by allowing private companies to run these services. The theory goes that private companies have great ability to run businesses efficiently and that if we hand over key services to them such as the NHS, schools, the prison service, that the business know-how of these private companies will help run successful services for the British public and the government grants that these companies receive will represent a value for money return for the taxpayer.
Unfortunately, in practise it doesn't work like that. Private companies are interested in one thing alone: profits. They are duty-bound to take that course which will give maximum returns to their shareholders. Now an obvious first question is, how can you try to make a profit from running a school? or running a hospital? or running a prison service?
This is a question our government needs to answer.
In practise how it does work is that private companies running a hospital will take obvious steps to reducing their costs: reducing the number of beds; below average cleanliness in the hospitals; substandard care for their patients, all of which has been borne out from investigations into the state of PFI run hospitals. In fact, the first PFI built hospital in this country was given 1 star in the NHS rating system: the lowest possible.
To find out more about the PFI and how it affects the lives of ordinary Britons, read "Captive State - the corporate takeover of Britain" by George Monbiot.
And i just want to leave you with this classic example of newspeak. When discussing the closure/downgrading of 10 hospitals, bosses said "the measures are aimed at reducing deficits and treating more patients..."