Today the NHS is in a deep crisis. Its millions-long waiting list condemns patients to seriously delayed treatments, often painfully, sometimes dangerously. Its hospitals are so overloaded ambulances line up outside, waiting hours to discharge patients.
Those who can afford it are going private: the number paying for private hospital treatment has risen by nearly a third since 2019.
This raises demand for trained medical workers in the private sector, with reports earlier this year that doctors were being offered £5,000 to recruit NHS colleagues to undertake private work, accelerating a vicious cycle in resource competition when the NHS already carries over 100,000 vacancies.
The logic is towards a two-tier healthcare system in which those who can pay get faster treatment while the “universal” health service is reduced through under-resourcing to basic cover for the poor.
Preventing this means challenging the two main drivers of NHS decline: underinvestment and privatisation.
Since Tony Blair first introduced private provision within the NHS, the service itself has become a lucrative source of private profit. Extortionate PFI contracts, state collusion with big pharma over drug prices and reliance on private providers all waste NHS money.
The last risks turning our health service into a commissioner rather than a provider of services, a brand name that masks a for-profit health system.
That betrayal of Bevan’s vision is the current prospectus from both Tories and Labour. Saving the NHS means building a mass campaign for real solutions to its twin crises: a serious increase in investment, and an end to all private-sector involvement.