A National Care Service should be Labour’s top priority…
If you want a sneak preview of the fate that awaits the National Health Service in private hands then you need look no further than the care sector. A gaggle of private companies compete to profit the most from the taxpayers and the needy disposition of their ‘customers’. It’s a grim spectacle by any standards and although each and every company will no doubt insist they genuinely care and in some cases mean it, that doesn’t change the fact that the underpinning ethos is entirely wrong. It is plainly and patently entirely wrong that peoples health should be commodified in this way and that is a popular argument, even amoung many who usually support the rule of the market jungle in the rest of the economy.
The government is doing everything it can to accelerate the complete transfer of social care into private hands by choking-off the grant given to councils for their social care budget. Meanwhile, private companies charge an absolute fortune, forcing councils to sell what few remaining resources they have off. Caught in the vice of rising costs and dwindling government support there seems to be little councils can do. However, they can and should try to compensate for the reduction in government funds by at least making sure the private sector does not benefit. A cap in the amount councils pay providers can and should practicably be applied at local level, for example.
Ultimately, this is a policy area which needs a national solution however. Andy Burnham’s National Care Service is that solution, it could very well be the policy idea that reverses the rampant privatisation of healthcare in general by reminding people of the benefits of a national service protecting and supporting them; not only would it resolve funding issue by making sure these were providing the care required rather than gratifying corporate balance sheets but also it would raise standards and the quality of service for staff and those in the care of the service. It’s a win-win for Labour, a big idea which can make a huge positive, progressive difference…so that makes its absence from our national policy push all the more mystifying. Andy Burnham needs to step-forward, after effectively leading the charge against the hated NHS Bill, and make pushing this his and the Party’s top-priority.