'The NHS has been weakened by privatisation over recent years'

Aneurin Bevan at his office in the Ministry of Health, Whitehall, London. He spearheaded the establi

Aneurin Bevan set up the NHS in 1948 to be free at the point of need and resourced according to need - Credit: PA

People of our age are thankful for the much-loved NHS set up in 1948.  

Bevan’s booklet ‘Freedom from Fear’ was published in 1952 and republished in 2008 by the Aneurin Bevan Society in association with Unison.

The NHS was part of the strategy proposed by Lord William Beveridge, namely universal services to combat the evils of want, disease, ignorance, squalor, and idleness. He understood that the prosperity of a country depended upon the well-being of all citizens. His Social Insurance scheme addressed poverty and was just part of a comprehensive policy of social progress.  

These evils remain with us today; why do we have people dependent on ‘Food Banks’, unable to afford decent accommodation or pay their heating bills?  

Now the NHS is under attack. On March 16, Hornsey Pensioners Action Group heard an excellent talk by Brenda Allan on the Health and Care Bill. The 33 people present voted for letters to be written to our MPs demanding that the Bill be scrapped.  

Hornsey Pensioners Action Group's Janet Shapiro

Janet Shapiro says the NHS is under attack - Credit: HPAG

The NHS was set up to be universal, comprehensive, free at the point of need and resourced according to need. These principles make our publicly funded NHS recognised as the most cost effective and equitable health service in Europe and USA. Regrettably the NHS has been weakened by privatisation over recent years and is currently severely under resourced. 

The principles that make the NHS strong are contradicted in the Bill. Opportunities for privatisation are increased with no guarantees for adequate resources.  

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Many are persuaded that the Bill will enable greater integration between critical care and local authority care services. Plans for improved coordination between critical care and community care could have been incorporated had local councillors been engaged in the Bill’s design. As they were not, we have the risky ‘Discharge to Assess’ policy that will cause problems for local authorities; this would mean removing patients from hospital before a care plan was in place.  

Baroness Natalie Bennett reports receiving heart felt pleas for the Bill to be scrapped.  Let us hope that both Houses listen and reject this fundamentally flawed Bill.  

On April 20, following our attempt in March to defend the NHS, we shall take on the world!  Our speaker is Athen Ayren, a Greenpeace volunteer. She will explain how everyone can make a difference in defending the world from destruction. See hornseypag.org.uk for details. 

Janet Shapiro is coordinator for Hornsey Pensioners Action Group