NHS hospitals have been advised by the UK Government to set up branches abroad to help increase profits, and while the knee-jerk criticisms to this kind of privatisation have been typical it never fails to amaze.
Patients Association chief executive Katherine Murphy declared “the guiding principle of the NHS must be to ensure that outcomes and care for patients comes before profit.
At a time of huge upheaval in the health service, when waiting times are rising and trusts are being asked to make £20bn of efficiency savings, this is another concerning distraction. The priority of the Government, hospital trusts and clinicians should be NHS patients.”
It can be reasonably argued that waiting times have been rising - and spending spiralling out of control - precisely because profit has not been a priority in the NHS. Speaking on behalf of patients, Katherine Murphy has a responsibility to speak for their best interests, and failing to recognise that profit must be prioritised - not instead of patients care - but as a means to improve it, she betrays the interests of the same patients she seeks to protect.
Seeking to make profit is not a “distraction”. Unless you intend on burying your head in the sand and denying the world that we live in, profit is the tool through which we can focus on improving healthcare for patients as well as deliver benefits for the taxpayer.
At the moment the taxpayer is footing the bill for one of the most bloated, inefficient organisations in the world that is failing to deliver improved outcomes for patients and taxpayers all the while plunging itself into deeper debt. The Government needs to find creative ways of funding the NHS that don’t rely solely on taxpayers.
This move is a no-brainer as the economy will benefit from the extra jobs and revenue created by the life sciences industries trading more across the globe. This translates into profits and higher tax receipts that can be reinvested into improving outcomes further.
NHS Confederation chief executive David Stout reflected what is being reported as a minority view by the press: “If we can see the health service as something that generates income as well as generates spend, I think that’s absolutely right and we should do that.”
The NHS has always occupied a dear place in the hearts of the Great British people but privatisation is an issue that we can ill-afford to politicise because ultimately we are paying the price not with taxes, but with our lives.