Once again, Tories discuss charging for GP appointments and overnight hospital stays
There is plenty of news around that the public is hearing nothing about. Trump, Putin, Footy, Brexit and the non-stop stream of defections and resignations from the disintegrating government of Theresa May distract everyone from some of the all-important debates going on under the table and behind closed doors. The Tories are once again openly talking about charging for NHS services. In a post-Brexit environment, the NHS and its services will face an ever greater threat from privatisation – especially from American healthcare corporations.
An article on the influential Conservative Home website by right-wing Tory politician and member of the House of Lords Howard Flight – proposes just that – the charging of NHS GP visits and hospital stays.
Apart from Flight’s personal ‘controversies’ within the party, one such incident forced his resignation as Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party in 2005, following comments made at a Conservative Way Forward meeting that was being secretly recorded. Here, he stated that more austerity was better than being touted by the election manifesto, a serious embarressment to the party.
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Flight also provoked controversy by suggesting that the government’s cuts to child benefits would ‘discourage the middle classes from breeding’ – a politically charged term in discussions on class where he also said: ‘but for those on benefits there is every incentive.‘ So, you can see the type of individual we are talking about here.
In Flight’s article he lauds Donald Trump by saying: “As Conservatives have hitherto supported and stood for, a successful economy needs lower, not higher, taxation – as Trump is now delivering successfully in the USA.” The problem that Flight forgets is that almost universally, Trump’s tax reductions in the USA have only benefitted the rich and powerful.
As for the NHS, Flight suggests that: “such as visits to the GP, could be a modest charge, e.g. no more than £20, and so can be universal. Others, which could be significantly larger, should be levied on a means-tested basis – for example, the cost of board and lodging in hospital” – as if emergency overnight stays are somehow ‘lodgings’. He then goes on to say that: “failed economic policy about the world is invariably the result of communism or socialism.” Again Flight forgets that the banking crisis still being felt around the world, that fuelled ‘austerity’ is a direct result of neoliberal capitalism – fundamentally a right-wing ideology.
Flight goes on to say that “Thatcher deliberately left in place small income tax liabilities for most citizens so that people knew what it was like to pay tax. No wonder ‘Tax the Rich’ has again become fashionable when a majority of citizens now don’t pay any income tax.” That statement is not just misleading – it’s a lie. There are 31 million taxpayers in Britain, the vast majority of them are basic rate taxpayers – and the vast majority of them support a universal NHS system, free at the point of use – without privatised services infecting its services with a profit motive.
And if any other proof of Conservative Home credentials is needed as a home for right-wing, free-market, anything for a profit at any cost goes, then it is in this final comment: “It is also no accident that those of us who look to a Conservative government to support a market economy are also Brexit supporters.”
But then Flight would say that. He is a director of Investec – an international specialist venture capital company operating in the UK , Southern Africa, and Asia-Pacific and is a notable member of the Institute of Economic Affairs. In the latter, the Charity Commission is examining whether the IEA breached rules on political independence. The IEA advocates the full privatisation of the NHS and promotes a hard-Brexit.
It’s also no accident that Brexit, Trump and the NHS are linked. Without opening the NHS up to American healthcare corporations, Trump has firmly stated, there is no trade deal with the USA and Theresa May has refused to deny it.