Socialist Worker

Hewitt forced into health service retreat

by John Lister, London Health Emergency
Issue No. 1976

Health secretary Patricia Hewitt’s half baked plans to reorganise and privatise services run by NHS primary care trusts (PCTs) are running into deep trouble.

Her proposals have managed to annoy even previously loyal Blairite MPs—including Alan Milburn, the former New Labour health secretary.

Hewitt has been forced to concede that most of her PCT proposals will go to consultation before being implemented. She has also had to hold back the drive towards privatising and hiving off PCT services.

There have also been some important local retreats on hospital closures and trust mergers. All these show that as long as we step up the pressure and build local campaigns, we can defeat some of these proposals.

But while there has never been a better time to roll back New Labour’s privatisation offensive, there has never been a worse time for complacency.

Tony Blair remains determined to leave a privatised NHS as his legacy. And Hewitt has not relented on diverting billions of pounds from NHS trusts to private treatment centres. One in five NHS waiting list operations will be carried out in the private sector by 2008.

That’s why we’re busily building Keep Our NHS Public, and urge everyone to join and help us roll back this Blairite tide.

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Article information

Sat 12 Nov 2005, 00:00 GMT
Issue No. 1976
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