Are impossible budget targets and chronic government under-funding to blame for the current crisis in the NHS?
When the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition took office in 2010, the NHS had a surplus of almost £2 billion (for 2009/10). Just to re-iterate, that surplus was the amount that the Trusts spent UNDER their collective budgets. The graph below (sourced from the Department of Health), clearly illustrates the blitzkrieg effect on the NHS that has been caused by government policy.
Even the first year of the coalition government saw a healthy surplus, just a million under the previous year. Then it started to go wrong. Serious underfunding and almost unachievable budget constraints, all in the name of austerity, have forced the NHS into deficit, and Trusts into Special Measures from which they have little chance of escaping.
As the UK crashes headlong into this healthcare crisis, there can be little doubt that a plan to privatise the NHS had been hatched long before the financial demise from the 2013/14 fiscal period, which saw a surplus become an inexcusable deficit.
There is no doubt that government policy, either accidentally or deliberately drove OUR NHS to the edge of bankruptcy. Yet this Conservative administration simply drives on, even though they have been caught out. Campaigners, who are fighting to halt the race to privatisation, have been dubbed as “scaremongers”. This is a term which appears to be fixed in the Conservative dictionary, as it comes from various levels of their party.
It is not surprising, therefore, that the hospitals in small country towns, often in safe Conservative seats, have become the targets for this butchery of the national healthcare system. Swathes of services are either being lost, or handed over to private health companies.
We have to remind ourselves that this is OUR NHS – it belongs to, and is paid for, by US.