Plans to privatise “all cancer and end-of-life treatment for children and adults across Staffordshire and Stoke on Trent” involving “diagnosis and treatment such as radiology, radiotherapy, breast screening, chemotherapy, nursing and surgery for patients in hospitals, hospices and at home” was front page news in the Financial Times in March 2014.
With a total of £1.2 billion worth of contracts on offer to private companies it was to be the biggest single privatisation ever. The government’s plan was to have this sell-off up and running by July 2015. Stoke Socialist Party led the opposition from the start and later launched together with Unite the Union and others a wider campaigning group, ‘Cancer Not For Profit’, against the health bosses plans.
After more than three years of campaigning, in April of this year, Health bosses have been forced into a humiliating climb down. Hidden away on the local section of the BBC website it was announced that,
“A £690 million contract to outsource cancer care in Staffs has been scrapped after health bosses failed to find a successful bidder to take it on.”
This was followed by an announcement in the Sentinel (28 July 2017) which said, “NHS plan to sell-off £535 million of end-of-life care scrapped.”
Highly paid, unelected Health bosses of local CCG’s (Clinical Commissioning Groups) have spent almost £1million of tax payers money trying to privatise these much needed Health services. These are the same people who are also currently carrying out a sham consultation about closing beds in local hospitals across North Staffordshire where beds have already been closed!
Despite their excuses for cancelling the contracts these ‘Health’ bosses have suffered a humiliating defeat over their attempt to sell-off our cancer care and end-of-life services. All those who have played a part in helping to force this climb down by campaigning to keep our NHS in public hands should be congratulated. It shows that these agents of privatisation can be beaten.
Undoubtedly they may well attempt to resurrect a similar plan as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Partnership for Staffordshire or in another format. If they do, we will still be here fighting them all the way. Even if they manage to sell-off cancer care, we will fight for it’s renationalisation along with all other parts of the NHS that have been sold off to private companies.
Trade unions, in particular those with NHS employees, should be leading a co-ordinated fight with whatever tactics are necessary to stop the privatisation of our NHS and for the renationalisation of all those parts already in private hands.
Jeremy Corbyn needs to ensure that Labour actively fights alongside trade unions and campaign groups to defend our NHS and also needs to make it crystal clear that a Labour government led by him will guarantee a fully publicly owned and funded NHS.