Thousands of people gathered in Trafalgar Square in London to protest against the privatization of the National Health Service and to mark the end of a 300 mile, 23 towns, and a march by a protest group called the “999 for the NHS”. The Cameron government in Britain has pulled the trigger on cutting the budget of the NHS and selling off parts of it to the highest bidder in the market. In fact, David Cameron’s government has appointed the former US health insurance company chief (UnitedHealth European arm) to be the Chief executive of the NHS England. He is the currently spearheading the Cameron government’s 20 billion “efficiency drive”.
The cuts to the NHS will have far and wide implications. The impact includes longer waiting times, higher costs of drugs and closures of many facilities including local clinics as well as Hospitals. Doctors and nurses are also losing their jobs across the country as a result of the cuts. Patients’ Association have reported that patients with serious pain are being denied the drugs that they need. The cuts to the NHS will create redundancies and layoffs which threaten the lively hood of thousands frontline workers.
The current coalition government led by David Cameron is using the old and repeatedly used narrative of portraying the cuts as a way of making the NHS more “efficient” and “cost-effective”: framing the cuts to portray them as beneficial to the public. The Cameron government describes the cuts as a way to “end waste”, “reducing bureaucracy”, and “innovating”. The narrative that the NHS is “broken” and requires “fixing” is highlighted in the news media day after day in the UK. All accidents and issues of the NHS are highlighted and all the benefits of the NHS are hardly ever mentioned and pushed under the carpet. However despite this, statistical poll after poll by even the most right-wing sections of the government has revealed that the NHS is highly valued by the people of Britain and that they will not be fooled by the right-wing media.
Privatizing the NHS is part of a larger privatizing scheme across the country. The Cameron government has used the times of austerity as an excuse to take away the hard fought for social services. The NHS is the iconic symbol of the workers struggle in the UK since WWII and is one of its finest achievements. Unfortunately the protest march for the NHS is high-jacked by the Labour politicians that are desperately trying to win votes for the next coming election. The political atmosphere created is a two party system, similar to the US, and the working people in the UK are led to believe that they have to vote for the lesser evil in order to save their NHS. However this is far from the truth in the streets. The rallies and protests against austerity cuts in the UK have increased month after month. The political consciousness created as the result of the on-going struggle is cutting through the lies of the capitalist political machine. There is a third choice: the choice is made on the streets, people must continue their protests against the regime of cuts, austerity and profit and continue to organize and strike for a more equal future until people are put before profit.