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The NHS has again found itself on the front cover of the national press; just as before, for all the wrong reasons. Theresa May's Conservative party is pursuing its ideological drive to sell off all assets, strip back funding, and flog any services it can. With NHS spending growth the lowest it has been since 1955—a meagre 1.3 percent per annum, well below the four percent historic average spending growth—the Tory plan is coming to fruition. As an institution, the NHS has become a victim of its own successes in the past: an ageing population, increased awareness of the hazards of smoking and obesity, and a push for a healthier society with schemes such as the 'Change4Life' and '5 A Day.' Because of this, additional funding is evermore vital to the globally unrivaled social health system; yet the Tories are set on a war against the NHS.
Asset stripping is the process used by corporate banks whereby the institution purchases an undervalued and failing company, sells off anything of value, and then profits from the desolation of the firm in question. The NHS, to the corporate bank that is the Conservative Party, was 'purchased' by inheriting it following the botched General Election last year, sold off to the likes of Richard Branson, and rapidly declined with the longest waiting times in over a decade, 44,000 people left stranded for cancer treatment and 100,000 unfilled staff vacancies, the NHS is a shadow of its former glory.
However the Tories have bettered themselves again, with the proposed implementation of the Naylor Report, in order to fund the "most ambitious programme on investment and buildings and technology the NHS has ever seen."
Ultimately this plays into the ideological battle to compromise the integrity of the NHS, through passing the assets and services it provides through the public purse and into private hands. Hands, it has been demonstrated, that simply cannot operate a health service. The Naylor Review explains how there is a £10 billion infrastructure funding gap, evident through "leaking Victorian hospitals" and antiquated IT systems that remain vulnerable to attack.
It goes on to argue that there is “no traditional business case” to warrant the high cost of fixing and maintaining these dilapidated buildings and archaic equipment in their current circumstances; instead recommending the sale of land occupied by 'disused services' to fund the reforms. The process by which this occurs is known as Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs). However this is merely further evidence of known underfunding by the Tories: a long term plan to exacerbate the burden of deficit; rolling out STPs will, by 2021, have increased the undervaluing by over £14billion per annum. Further to this, Deborah Harrington, of the National Health Action Party, says some of the buildings labelled as “surplus” have been purposefully forced to close as a result of thorough cuts and staff shortages. “You have the premises on which to do it, but you don’t have the staff or the money to run the service; that then becomes surplus to requirements." Yet further evidence to suggest the ideological conquest, Theresa May and multimillionaire pal Jeremy Hunt have laid themselves upon to undermine the integrity of the Health Service the public rely on each and every day.
The Conservative Party has failed on the vast majority of their pledges towards the NHS. A&E waiting times: when Labour started its major investment scheme for the NHS in 2003, the percentage of people waiting more than four hours fell rapidly, and never reached four percent again under the Labour government—not even in winter, portraying the major failings of the Tories in the 'Winter of Discontent' of 2017/8. As soon as coalition government entered Downing Street in 2010, this figure rose rapidly; reaching over 18 percent and not dropping below 14 percent since 2015—and the monthly figure is currently 23 percent.
Surprisingly, there is a simple solution: funding. The supposed 'Brexit Dividend' has been confirmed to, in fact, be a tax rise across the board, with Damian Green stating that everyone will front the added burden. However this is unnecessary.
Following the release of the Panama Papers, it is thought that £11.2 Billion is kept away from HMRC in unpaid corporation tax; when this is added to the 'Shadow Economy' (“economic activities that are not recorded or declared to avoid government regulation or taxation”) legal tax avoidance, illegal tax evasion and corporation tax rerouting, Tax Research UK estimates that £120Billion is hidden from the Treasury each year. If loopholes are closed, corporations are held to account and the wealthy are obliged to pay their share, the NHS would never have to flog off 'surplus' assets, never have to close its doors early or go down to a five day week. The NHS could return to the glory that Bevan predicted for it and fulfill the wishes of the people to provide a health service for all, free at the point of need and globally unchallenged for quality, care and outreach. That is the NHS the UK desires, deserves, and will receive if the Conservative led coalition of chaos quits its party warfare, and begins to act in the best interests of the nation that put it into Number 10.