Michael Meacher for Left Futures writes: “This week, it’s become clear we’re a step closer to a fee-charging, means-tested NHS. The privatisation agenda began with Blair’s foundation trusts. Next we had Cameron’s offer to ‘any qualified provider’ to compete for any NHS contract. Then a cascade of privatisations and outsourcings throughout the NHS. It rose to a new level with the Blairite ex-minister flying a kite for a £10 tax on everyone to pay for their health services. Now it’s been taken on and applied from within the NHS itself: by GPs in one of the new clinical commissioning groups (CCGs).
This has only come to light because of the investigatory efforts of the anti-cuts group, False Economy, which makes one wonder whether it is already more widespread. The NHS South Warwickshire CCG are proposing to charge for 15 different kinds of aids and devices for persons who are disabled or are recovering from an accident or operation. They include trusses for hernias, spinal supports, knee and hip braces, lumbar and abdominal supports, cervical support, toilet aids and equipment, walking aids and crutches, bed mobility aids, etc.
It is claimed by the CCG that this is driven by financial pressures, which is bad enough if these essential aids are being withdrawn because of the Tories’ imposition of £20bn cuts steadily biting deeper into NHS provision in the current 5 years. But the CCG’s own figures suggest it’s more complex than that. Their overall budget is £304m and the saving they are hoping to make from charging for these orthotics is only £270,000, i.e. just 0.1% of their budget. This is so tiny that it seems obvious that this is in fact testing the water for imposing charges on a far wider scale once the principle of charging has been accepted, if and when the political furore has died down.
This whole secretive episode reveals again the ruthlessness and mendacity of Cameron. Before the 2010 election not a word about all this came from the Tories. At the 2010 election he pledged on huge countrywide hoardings: “I’ll cut the deficit, not the NHS.” In fact he’s done the reverse. It’s extraordinary how he has the gall to keep up his pretence of morality as opposed to his obeisance to corporate privatisation. On the opposite page of the Guardian announcing charges for the disabled or those recovering post-operation or post-accident, Cameron waxes warmly how he’s “evangelical about Christianity”. But his version appears to be consistent with kicking away the crutches from the helpless.” (http://www.leftfutures.org/2014/04/up-front-nhs-charges-are-just-around-the-corner/) See also – (http://www.labourleft.co.uk/a-moment-of-honesty-is-required-new-labour-began-the-dismantling-of-our-nhs-admits-kailashchandobe/)