On Thursday 26th March at 8 pm, the public clapped for the NHS to show gratitude for the continuing service they provide amongst the ongoing rampage of COVID 19. Actors and royals, including Daniel Craig, Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis joined in with the clapping.
Voting for a party that funds the NHS is sufficiently supporting the workers.
Dr Adrian Heald tweeted “Thanks for the #clapforNHS but after a decade of voting for a party who always stripped the NHS and tried to sell us off, it seems to be a bit of an empty gesture. Please vote in the future for a party who supports the NHS, if you mean that clap seriously.”
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has historically fought to protect the NHS. During the 2019 election, Labour accused Boris Johnson and the Labour party of preparing to sell the NHS in international trade talks.
He proposed that the Labour government would have passed an emergency “NHS protection” law if they won the general election, to ensure that US pharmaceutical companies cannot infiltrate the health service and increase the price of drugs. Below are some of the promises The Labour Party made during that election, in response to fears surrounding Conservative privatisation.
Boris Johnson won the election, Brexit continued, and here came the Coronavirus. We had three disasters for the price of one.
However, to understand the argument surrounding the privatisation of the NHS, the history must be explored. The NHS was once considered ‘politically untouchable’, but now private companies are able to have their hands on the NHS.
The History of Privatization
The NHS was launched in 1948, to be a publicly funded and publicly provided service, which directly employed doctors and other staff.
The Thatcher government from 1979, brought in compulsory competitive tendering, and the 1990 NHS and Community Care Act which separated commissioners from providers. This, in turn, created the market for NHS services and a considerable expansion of private healthcare.
The Tories introduced the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). This involved private, decade-long contracts to build and manage hospitals alongside other public infrastructure. The years of Tory governance saw the systematically defunding of the NHS and as a result, buildings crumbled and waiting lists became lengthy.
New Labour Governments from 1997 believed the way to reduce NHS decline was through more private sector involvement.
New Labour marked the transitional period of converting the NHS from a public sector provider, to include the private sector under the illusion of choice and competition. New Labour’s reforms of the NHS was highly unpopular both within and outside the mainstream Labour Party.
New Labour reversed the principle of social democracy: society became the servant of the market, meaning the interests of the economy ruled. The state would be actively used to help people survive as individuals in the global economy.
The New Labour under the leadership of Tony Blair laid down the framework for the conservative government to follow in their footsteps.
Former Prime Minister David Cameron proclaimed the NHS was “ring-fenced” from cuts. Spending increases for the NHS dramatically decreased under austerity. An annual average of about 1 per cent between 2010 and 2015, the average during the leadership of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown was 6 per cent between 1997 and 2010.
In 2017, conservatives, under the leadership of Theresa May, voted against the 1% pay-rise cap for NHS nurses and firefighters, which was originally introduced under David Cameron.
Twitter user @Mackerssean77 tweeted “Sheer hypocrisy by Johnson clapping the health service personnel. The party that cheered the blocking of a pay rise for nurses and who are damaging the NHS..”
Very rarely do I take political sides, but the clapping for the NHS was a beautiful moment, it enriched the hearts mind and souls of NHS workers who deserved it. They are working tirelessly, around the clock to make sure we are safe. Clapping was the bare minimum we could do.
However, if you voted Conservative your clapping was a backhanded slap. The conservative government need the NHS more now than ever, but if through systematic underfunding and the very real and imminent threat of more privatisation where will the NHS be after the current COVID-19?
Clapping without the appropriate actions fall on deaf ears. Claps should be accompanied by writing letters to your local MP, and active protests. Most importantly appreciate the NHS whilst we have it. If you love the NHS vote within its best interests to have it funded as a strong healthcare system which enriches us all: rich, poor, black or white, male or female.