LETTER: Stop backdoor privatisation

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Some weeks ago, there was a report in the Mercury that the NHS North Derbyshire Commissioning Group had to ensure it could operate within its 2017 to 2018 budget, and save £28million, no doubt its share of the £22billion which the NHS has to save by 2020.

Now we hear that it is proposed to close more hospital beds in Derby and Derbyshire. That is a catastrophe in the making.

The almost dismissive way that the needs of the NHS were treated in the recent budget - and the news of the planned bed closures had prompted me to write.

In addition to these huge savings being forced on the NHS (why?), it is forced to squander at least £4.5b a year tendering out its services, allowing private companies to bid against the NHS to manage them. This is an extremely expensive process involving administrators, accountants and lawyers, which allows the likes of Richard Branson to get his hooks into the NHS (his latest ploy being to sue the NHS when he wasn’t awarded a contract he made a bid for).

There would be a significant amount of additional money available for the NHS if this backdoor privatisation, forced on it by Jeremy Hunt as soon as he became Health Secretary, was stopped. Why do we hear so little about this?

I suspect it may be because it has gone on so long it has been half forgotten, yet for the Chancellor this wasted money should be a gift.

It really is time for the various political parties (and those Tories fearful of losing their seats if hospitals are closed in their constituencies) to bring out into the open this totally unnecessary process. Why should the NHS have to bid against profiteering private companies to do its own work?

The government needs to be reminded that it is our money that is being wasted on something we did not know we had voted for.

The classic way to destroy a public service is to deprive it of funds, so the better-off, or desperate, look elsewhere. Staff, services and buildings disappear until all that is left is a third-class service for everyone except the very well off. Could this all have something to do with a pamphlet said (although I haven’t seen it myself) to have been co-written some years ago by Jeremy Hunt on the dismantling of the NHS?

It appears to me that, though the will of the people with regard to Brexit is regarded as paramount, the will of the people with regard to the NHS is of no importance in the Government’s eyes.

Miriam Wood

Matlock Green