I suppose it was to be expected that during his recent sojourn Down Under David Cameron should have a rush of blood to the head, but in the absence of any rational arguments it appears that his only reason for “putting rocket boosters” behind the current Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations is Len McCluskey (Unite) is agin it.
Maybe that’s the way it works in the Bully’em Club, as the Prime Minister and many of his cohorts trot out the same mantra about TTIP being a win-win, with tariff and non-tariff barriers blown away to allow a free-for-all among traders and manufacturers itching to increase business across the pond.
That may be fine in a genuinely competitive market, and many of our entrepreneurs will relish the opportunity to make further inroads into the US market. But the NHS doesn’t work that way.
It has at least one foot nailed to the floor, particularly in England, where the privatisation of many services as well as supplies is well-advanced.
There is no way the NHS can think of participating in the commercial spoils, having little surplus goods to flog while at the same time being obliged to put much of its work out to tender.
What’s wrong with that? NHS’s recent history is littered with expensive contracts promising jam today (think PFI, or a series of IT disasters), contracts drawn up by clever commercial lawyers and closed by slick, smiley sales people. What they do not mention is who picks up the tab for the bits they do not supply: minor details like A&E for when things go wrong, or the management of staff training and development, or the Research and Development by which the NHS strives to keep its promises to us.
Perhaps the PM would like to go for broke and hand the whole shebang (to use an American expression) to the private sector. The result would be a curate’s egg with some improvements, but do we want a health service that costs twice as much as the NHS yet fails to reach the people most in need?
The Scottish Government has set its face against NHS privatisation, but the wolf is at the gate. Our NHS already faces immense challenges, and the last thing it needs is a blinkered government blowing the bl**dy doors off, particularly when that government is in Brussels, where Scotland seems not to have a voice, but that’s another story.