Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting has been heavily criticised for his support of NHS privatisation (among other things). His latest attack on the public health service is possibly the most disturbing yet, however, as he’s used the predictable winter health crisis to argue against more funding.
Much like his boss Starmer last week, Streeting’s words where hidden behind a paywall.
Streeting’s NHS tirade: has he thought this through?
There are two main points to Streeting’s argument. The first is unarguably true; the second is moronic if you want to improve the first:
- The NHS is in a sad state of affairs and needs to improve in every way imaginable.
- “The NHS is going to have to get used to the fact that money is tight”.
Now, Streeting may be an oily little turd, but he hasn’t got turds for brains, so what’s his game here? It’s the same game as ever – a neoliberal politician claims public health is inefficient because of the ‘public’ element, and they use that as cover to syphon off lucrative work to private health contractors.
Councillor/doctor/all-round busy boy David Nicholl pointed out the clear contradiction by highlighting it’s not simply technology that propels, for example, Singapore’s health system; it’s spending more money:
Who would have guessed that technology cost money to implement and operate?
However, one doctor had an even more comprehensive take down of Streeting’s plan.
‘Many thanks, Wes’
Rachel Clarke is a palliative care doctor, writer, and founder of Hospice Ukraine (where do these greedy, workshy doctors find the time for all this?). In her response to Streeting, she began with the areas on which they agree:
Yes, of course the NHS needs to innovate. Better & more creative use of tech, logistics & patient-centred approaches are vitally needed.
And some of the ideas you outline in your interview, below, are fascinating.
With the agreement out of the way, she got on with basting oily Wes in his own juices:
However, you also say the NHS is “the worst of all worlds, which is poor outcomes alongside poor value for taxpayers”.
Though that might play well with some of the Sunday Times readers whose votes you crave, it is not exactly true.
Clarke went further too:
In fact, expert consensus is that the NHS does remarkably well with its below-average overall funding, woeful levels of capital investment & excessively low numbers of doctors & hospital beds per capita.
None of this is to say we can’t do better with the resources we have.
Ah, but have you considered that giving the NHS even less money and sellotaping a £1,000 iPad to the end of every hospital bed might actually enhance efficiency? Given his reliance on magical thinking, it’s unsurprising that Streeting has also been criticised for defending Harry Potter scribe J.K. Rowling (to be fair to Rowling, there’s nothing in her books as fantabulous as Streeting’s plan for the NHS).
Clarke continued, noting that Streeting has gone way beyond simply calling for improvements to the service:
But when you insinuate to the public that NHS staff “use” the grotesquely awful winter conditions we – patients & staff alike – endure every year to demand more funding, you are quite openly & deliberately undermining public trust in the NHS.
Are you really OK with that?
Even more damagingly, whether you intended it or not, with that insinuation you’ve given NHS staff the most massive kick in the guts .
Do you have any idea how hellish it is to work in an NHS A&E over winter? How much staff give in those horrific conditions?
Clarke ended by calling out Streeting’s barely concealed cynicism:
Other people had things to say – some of them concise:
Others quite funny:
But money is tight!
Let’s return to what oily Wes had to say on this front:
The NHS is going to have to get used to the fact that money is tight
Tight is it? Tight for who?
Where I live, more and more shops are boarded up, but in one place they recently opened a Porche dealership. My mum was confused by this, so I explained that while things are getting progressively worse for an increasing majority, for the shrinking minority, things have never been better.
Money isn’t tight for them – not unless you ask them for a bit more in taxes, anyway; a move Starmer’s Labour is chronically adverse to. Instead, we’re going to get austerity for the many and private healthcare contracts for the few.
It’s not the NHS which is using the failing state of this country as an excuse to beg for more money; it’s the rich.
Featured image via Chris McAndrew (Wikipedia) – cropped to 770 x 403