Op-Ed: British parliament is closed as politicians begin their election campaigns in earnest. PM David Cameron has begun his campaign by announcing the NHS will be a 'truly seven-day' service by 2020 if the Tories are re-elected.
That is a promise then that he says will be delivered by the end of another five-year term in government but he has a bad track record on pre-election promises.
Doctors have already warned that a seven-day NHS for all services is not workable. It may be if the service receives a mass of funding but even then it is doubtful.
The NHS is a great British asset and deserves protection and funding but it has its limits. Cameron and the Tories are committed to privatising the NHS little by little and will not even guarantee it is safe from TTIP, the transatlantic trade deal.
Working for the NHS from 1999 until 2012 this blogger experienced some of the changes first hand. There was a saying 'work here long enough and you will see every reform come around again'.
That was certainly true and I watched as systems were introduced, replaced and reintroduced as demoralised staff ran on the NHS treadmill.
Cameron's latest NHS promise will only be workable with an increase in funding, more privatisation, efficiency savings, and slashing salaries although ask an NHS worker and they will say it will not happen. In January the Guardian reported;
Doctors have warned that plans to transform the NHS into a seven-day service are a waste of vital resources that could threaten the quality of care during the week and prove a danger to patient safety.
Following Cameron's advice then the Conservatives must surely be in for a ballot box beating at the election?
The problem is Cameron is craftily manipulating voters and playing mind games, for example by only taking part in a Q & A session rather than a debate with Labour leader Ed Miliband.
Those who thought he was too scared to debate may be right but more likely it is carefully stage managed politics paid for by wealthy donors in the UK, Alexander Temerko a former Russian businessman and others.
A truly seven-day NHS is the first of what will be a long list of Cameron promises aimed at winning votes. Will the other promises be equally non-workable?
The NHS already operates a 24/7 service but obviously not for all services such as outpatient appointments.
Conclusion; Cameron is taking control of the election campaigns by any means possible, fair or foul, but only if you let him.
The road to the 2010 Tory led coalition government was littered with broken promises.
But news that Hunt is burying a report pales with news Saturday regarding a "Plan by NHS Supply Chain to deal with [a] backlog of patients waiting for surgery and tests [which] will see 11 companies paid £780m to diagnose and treat patients."
This is not the first time a private initiative has been used to reduce waiting lists. During the early Labour years, following years of Tory rule which had run the NHS into the ground, initiatives were out in place to reduce waiting times.
The Labour government introduced strict waiting time targets which were a mixed bag in some ways but overall helped patients receive treatment more quickly.
But after the work was done the Tory led coalition of 2010 squandered the much improved waiting times and they quickly increased.
The NHS has agreed this new private initiative to reduce a backlog of patients but that situation would not have arisen if the coalition had shown a commitment to the NHS. It is worth checking out the full report at the Guardian if you are a UK resident. Take this extract for example;
The contract has raised concern because three of the 11 profit-driven companies involved have been heavily criticised, including two by the NHS regulator, for providing poor quality of care in hospitals and care homes. Labour’s shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said it showed that “chunks” of the NHS were being sold off – but the Department of Health insisted there had been no significant increase in the privatisation of the health service.
The deal means that a change of government may already have been committed to NHS privatisation at least in part.
'Selling off NHS for profit': Full list of MPs with links to private healthcare firms - Daily Mirror November
Campaign group 38 Degrees is running a Save our NHS campaign - The NHS has been part of our lives for 67 years, but now it’s make or break. The NHS isn’t getting the cash it needs. And the government is letting money-hungry private companies carve out profits from treating the sick. Follow the link to join the campaign and sign the NHS petition.