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Stay Home, Protect the NHS or Privatise?



The US has the highest and the UK the second highest death rate globally.


Let's put this into perspective, specifically in the context of the quality of the provision of healthcare services in both countries.


UK Healthcare System


The UK is the 6th richest country in the World. Yet, the UK has fewer doctors and nurses per capita than almost any developed country.


The UK has the highest respiratory disease mortality rate in Europe.


Since 2011 improvements in life expectancy in the UK have stalled, and for certain groups of the population, gone into reverse.


The spin from government has been on protecting the NHS and saving lives. Yet, privatisation of the NHS, thats been going on since Thatcher, accelerated under the PFI modal by Tony Blair, and reaching a record number of deals under Boris Johnson, has resulted in the UK having one of the lowest hospital bed rates in Europe per 1,000 people, falling 34% since 1987.


According to The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the average of number of hospital beds per 1000 in 2017, was 4.7. In the UK this figure was 2.5


The OECD points out a clear positive association between health spending per capita and life expectancy. Yet the UK has the 4th most catastrophic health spending globally for poorer segments of society.

Length of stay in UK hospitals, which medical professional see as a key indicator of efficiency throughout the health system, is around a day shorter in the UK than the EU average and lower than in France and Germany, for example.


In 2020, both the US and UK have about 2 beds per 1,000 people. Germany, by comparison has 6, while Japan has 7.8, according to the OECD. Putting that into perspective, Germany has the third highest number of coronavirus cases in Europe, but deaths are relatively few at 8,511 when compared with neighbouring countries. And Japan has some of the fewest deaths globally at 892. Whereas the UK has 38,489.


Lessons from the US Healthcare System


The US is the wealthiest country in the World. But 23% of Americans with chronic illness in their families, have problems paying medical bills. 28% do not have enough money to pay for healthcare. While 29% skipped medical treatment or didn't fill prescription because of the costs.


The US has the highest Obesity levels in the world.


10.8% of the US population are living with diabetes, compared to the average 6.4%. Making the US the third highest diabetes rate globally.


Privatisation of the NHS


Circling back to the UK -


22% of the NHS is currently privatised.


The UK’s Heath Secretary Matt Hancock, pledged ‘no privatisation under my watch’. Yet, The Department of Health and Social Care gave out a record £9.2bn in contracts in 2019 to private providers such as Virgin Care and the Priory mental health group. An increase of 14% from the £8.1bn that went to profit-driven healthcare companies in 2014-15, and £410m more than the £8.77bn they received in 2017-18. Not surprising when Matt Hancock receives funding directly from a major think tank who wants to abolish the NHS.


£15 billion of NHS contracts have been awarded to the private sector since 2015. That is almost two-thirds of NHS contracts by value going to the private sector in the last four years.


The Department of Health spend £640 million on management consultants in 2014. Spending £17.6m on management consultants hired to draw up NHS cutbacks in 2017.


Under the Tory Government - who champion key workers and want to protect the NHS - 30,000 healthcare are employed on zero hours contracts, according to the GMB Union. Although the true number is likely higher as statistics may not include outsourced workers, or workers employed through controversial wholly owned subsidiary companies that are not bound by nationally agreed employment standards, by contrast to public sectors workers.


According to Rehana Azam, General Secretary of the GMB, 'Outsourcing is bad news for patients and NHS staff. Time and again, we have seen private providers failing to deliver while our members’ terms and conditions and the NHS national agreement have been undermined. We are clear that it is safer and in the long-run it is better value for services such as care, patient transfers and facilities management to be brought back in house.'


And finally, one research study found that the risk of MRSA infection is nearly 50% higher in hospital wards where cleaning services are outsourced to the private sector.

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