Read our full letter to new Health Secretary Victoria Atkins
Dear Rt Hon Victoria Atkins,
Congratulations on assuming your new role as Secretary of State for Health. On behalf of the whole country, we wish you the best of luck.
Over the past 2 years, as waiting list figures have skyrocketed, we have seen 4 Secretaries of State attempt to fix the crisis by increasing the role of the for-profit private sector in the NHS. We, the undersigned, are writing to you as you begin your time as Health Secretary, to ask you to face the facts: privatisation is wasteful, ineffectual and costs lives.
We are calling on you to reinstate our NHS as a fully public service by eliminating the private for-profit interests in it that have warped its public service mission.
The crisis in our NHS did not begin 2 years ago. We have lived through the last 13 years of NHS underfunding, outsourcing and privatisation under five successive Conservative prime ministers, the effects of which are clear for all to see:
- 7.7 million people waiting for NHS care,
- 272,000 people paying out of pocket for surgeries last year,
- The rapid growth of “Buy now, pay later” loans for healthcare - pushing people in our communities into indebtedness,
- An Oxford University study linking the outsourcing of NHS services to treatable deaths, among other things.
The public continues to strongly support our NHS. An average of 86% of Brits, according to the 2022 Survey of British Social Attitudes, support the founding principles and values of our National Health Service.
And, recent Survation/We Own It polling shows that 78% of the public, including a majority of Conservative voters, want our NHS fully publicly owned and delivered.
You shouldn’t do this only because it is what the public wants, but also because it is what will solve the crisis our NHS faces.
Private solutions can’t and won't fix the staffing crisis, long A&E waiting times or help the vast majority of those on waiting lists.
- The private sector does not have A&E - in fact, according to The Times, 550 people facing medical emergencies are transferred from private hospitals to NHS hospitals every month.
- The private sector trains no staff - in fact, they leech staff from the NHS who are trained at huge public expense by the NHS.
- The private sector does not help everyone - they cherry-pick the simplest and most profitable cases. And even then, they saddle the NHS with all costs related to medical complications from their surgeries regardless of whether those patients paid out of their own pockets or were funded by the NHS.
Private solutions to this crisis will necessarily fail because the NHS has a fundamentally different interest to private companies. If all illnesses suddenly disappeared from Britain, our NHS would greatly benefit, whereas the private healthcare companies would suffer loss. Our NHS cares about the health of our nation, private companies care to make as much profit as possible.
Our NHS was ranked the best in the developed world until Conservative governments started cutting and privatising it. You can break this cycle of destruction. What our NHS needs is for politicians to put NHS patients before the profits of private companies. It is time to restore our NHS to a service we can once again be proud of.
We want you to reinstate our NHS as a fully public service.
Thank you very much for your time.