Panorama, Privatisation and Prognosis

31 05 2011

I just watched Panorama : Undercover Care – The Abuse Exposed and rarely has a television programme angered me as much as this did.

Vulnerable residents of an adult care home populated by people with learning and developmental disabilities in Bristol were regularly and violently tortured by people paid to care for them. The “hospital”, Winterbourne View in Bristol is a private facility owned by Castlebeck yet is publicly funded by the tax payer.

I urge anyone able to watch it, to do so on iPlayer (link above) then consider how Andrew Lansley and the Tory led government wants to create a situation in England and Wales where more private companies take control of hospitals, or services, or healthcare provision that the NHS are currently responsible for.

Lansley claims it’s not privatisation of the NHS but an efficiency measure to ensure patients get more choice and a better service. He maintains there will be no competition and as his credibility ship slowly sinks, Lansley continues to salute his ‘reassurances’ to the public, but strangely enough no one seems to believe him.

I wonder why…?

An Independent Article from way back in 2004 reported current Tory Minister of State for Policy, Oliver Letwin, telling construction industry representatives that the NHS would not exist within 5 years of a conservative government and would instead be a funding stream allowing people to choose where they want to go for their healthcare.

Fast forward 6 years to October 2010 (via Spinwatch website) when Mark Britnell a senior health adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron claimed, the  NHS would be a state insurance provider instead of directly delivering care. He continued to claim, “The NHS will be shown no mercy“.

Based only on two corroborative statements by conservative blabbermouths, it is looking increasingly likely that the NHS will be privatised at best, destroyed completely at worst. This is no real surprise to Joe and Jowena Average but obviously everyone is a little shocked that the institution once the pride of Britain is slowly, surreptitiously being demolished in the name of progress and reform.

When Pres. Obama is trying to ensure state healthcare for all in America, Andrew Lansley is trying to turn the UK into an insurance system whereby healthcare is provided based on a) your insurance policy and b)your/their ability to pay. Most certainly not a progressive policy, no matter the spin they try to put on it.

Already the coalition government are renowned for not listening and for going back on their pre-election promises, while my chosen ‘evidence’ may be 6 years apart in the claims being made, they both say essentially the same thing and both contradict the public face of the government.

Tonight’s Panorama highlighted what any decent human being would hope to be an isolated incident but more and more instances are broadcast in the media, relying on whistleblowers to alert the public of such abuses in care situations.  There is a realistic threat that where profits are put ahead of people, these abusive and torturous “carers” will be employed for their value for money rather than their skills or desire to care.

At a time when the most vulnerable in society are already facing the stresses of cuts to welfare and services, to add to that physical and mental abuse by those charged with their care, it paints a very poor picture of a ‘caring Britain’. It’s a terrifying prospect to think that when you resign to placing a vulnerable loved one in the trust and care of a state funded service, that there could be the threat of torture as a means to entertain the care staff. Torture as entertainment and we pay for it.

I’m lucky. I’m in Scotland and our NHS is not currently facing the same threat of destruction. Yet. I am often asked why I get outraged at the changes being made to England and Wales when it does not affect me. But it does affect me. I am merely an accident or illness away from ending up in a care home like that. Such behaviour is not restricted to England and while the impending privatisation of the NHS down south may not directly affect me in person, it angers me to know that any human being could treat another with such disrespect, let alone someone vulnerable and unable to properly fight back. To watch the NHS be destroyed for my neighbours does not sit easy with me. To know it could just as easily happen here should it make an easy transition in England is enough to make me want to stand up and say my piece.

There but for the grace of dog etc.

 

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