Monday, 24 August 2009

Still digging

The more the Tories try and 'clarify' their position on the NHS in the wake of Dan Hannan's comments, the deeper they seem to be digging themselves.

Last week, Cameron himself pledged his support for the NHS - by promising to open the NHS to "new providers". This is clearly an indication of an intention to move elements of health care from the public sector to the private sector. Promising to privatise parts of the NHS seems to be a curious way of showing support for it.

On the same day, the spokesman for the Conservatives in Wales in the National Assembly wrote a letter to the Western Mail in which he said that they would not scrap the policy of free prescriptions. They would, however, only safeguard the policy for 'most people', and would 'allow' others to make a 'small contribution' to the cost. To me 'allowing' people to pay sounds like it would be voluntary; somehow I doubt that is what he means, since they are counting on generating a net saving of £30million.

In yesterday's Sunday Times, there was a report of a survey by ComRes, which indicated that some two thirds of Tory MPs want to privatise at least some elements of the NHS, and move away from a system funded by taxes to an insurance-based system.

So, it seems that they plan to support the NHS by privatising parts of it, maintain the policy of free prescriptions by making some people pay for them, and deep down, many of them are opposed to the whole principle on which the NHS is based. Hannan managed to open a very large can of worms with his interview on US television – and we haven't got to the bottom if it yet.

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