The NHS was born was 5 July 1948. It was inaugurated by Aneurin “Nye” Bevan, the Health Minister
It wasn’t long before financial problems ensued. In 1951 Bevan, by now the labour minister, resigned from the cabinet when it voted to bring in charges for dental care, spectacles and prescriptions. In his resignation letter to Attlee he wrote: “It is the beginning of the destruction of those social services in which Labour has taken a special pride and which were giving to Britain the moral leadership of the world”. Prescription charges were one shilling
and dental treatment cost a £1 flat fee.
In 2019 the prescription charges have been increased by 20 pence from £8.80 to £9 for each medicine or appliance dispensed.
For band one Dental Examination, diagnosis, x-rays, scale & polish. When you need to see a dentist immediately, usually for extreme pain, swelling or excessive bleeding. England £22.70, Wales £14.00. For band two All treatments in band one plus additional procedures such as fillings, root canal treatment, relining of dentures and extractions. England £62.10, Wales £45. Scotland and Northern Ireland are still operating under the old NHS system with no plans to change at present.
Eye examinations, including glaucoma, £19, or free for people over 60 under the NHS.
Now, John Redwood tells us “The important principle that people like and support is that healthcare should be free. We should all have free access to the NHS, and should expect to receive timely and good quality treatment in proportion to our health needs. All taxpayers of course pay for the service through taxes.
“The only major departure from this was when Labour in the early years of the NHS introduced charges for prescriptions and glasses. Subsequent governments of various parties have given more exemptions to prescription charges whilst continuing with them and from time to time increasing them.
“The NHS has never been a fully nationalised service. Labour’s original establishment allowed GPs to be private contractors, running their services from private premises as many still do today. The NHS has always relied on the private sector to supply its drugs, bandages, food and other supplies. For many years under governments of all three parties the NHS has employed private company contractors in various locations to clean and cook, to provide a range of services to hospitals and surgeries.
“Nor has the NHS ever insisted on all its supplies coming from the UK. Where foreign companies have developed good drugs that UK manufacturers do not have, the NHS is willing to import them. The NHS is also cost conscious and usually negotiates a bulk discount or special terms reflecting its buying power.
“Most people do not mind the NHS drawing on the best supplies from the private sector as part of its activity, as long as the core proposition of free good quality NHS care is maintained. The present government has no intention of deviating from this. These are common principles and practices shared by Labour and Conservative governments in office”.
But who can forget the scandal of Serco losing out-of-hours GP services and hospital management contracts in NHS Cornwall? And Braintree hospital in Essex? They said there were “some operational challenges”. In Cornwall whistleblowers raised an alarm over safety, highlighting an occasion when only one GP had been on duty for the county for the night. The parliamentary accounts committee said Serco’s service was substandard and was highly critical of the company’s treatment of whistleblowers.
And there is Virgin Care, claiming “We’ve been partnering with the NHS and local authorities since 2006, providing high quality care for more than a million people each year and making sure everyone feels the difference. Partnering with commissioners to solve the challenges of the day, we deliver innovative and high quality care for children and adults in the community through social care, community services, GP practices, walk-in centres and pathway services”.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper
has hit out at the continued and blatant privatisation of the National Health Service, with previously free treatments now being charged for, directly by the NHS. Routine treatments such as cataract surgery and hip replacements are now considered as procedures of low clinical value and are being charged for at a local hospital trust.
Rosie, who is also a member of Parliament’s Health and Social Care Committee, said “I have consistently opposed the privatisation of the NHS, but this latest horrific news shows just how ‘normal’ it has become that a hospital and its Board think this is acceptable to taxpayers. They should hang their heads in shame!
“In West Lancashire, the CCG farmed out contracts to the private provider Virgin Care, and nearby at Warrington and Halton the NHS Hospital Trust itself is now charging for treatments including cataract and hip replacements.
“The Trust has a list of procedures they’re charging for, with hip and knee replacements costing over £7,000. This is the galloping privatisation of the NHS under the Tories continuing. The outrageous message this NHS Trust is sending is “‘Can’t afford it, we don’t care if you’re in pain or can’t see!”.
“I have written to the Health Secretary asking him to explain why cataracts, replacement hips and knees have become procedures of low value when they make a huge difference to the lives and wellbeing of sufferers. What’s next, will we need to take our credit cards with us every time we visit hospital. He needs to be clear about this now. I’ve also written to the Chief Executive of Southport and Ormskirk Hospitals, as well as the CCG and STP Chiefs to ensure they don’t have similar plans for West Lancashire”.
Just who can we trust with the NHS?