Allyson M Pollock
NHS plc: the privatisation of our health care. London: Verso 2004. £15;
ISBN: 1 84467 011 2
“This is a shocking story, brilliantly told, by one of the leading thinkers in the field of public health policy. Here you will learn how Labour politicians, with their cronies from the private sector, are turning this magnificent institution into one of the greatest pork barrels of all time. No one who cares about the health of the nation should ignore NHS plc.”
Prof Raymond Tallis, author of Hippocratic Oaths. Medicine and its Discontents
Whether or not the public has a ‘right to choose’, it seems likely that the basic right to free care that the creation of the NHS sought to enshrine will continue to suffer at the hands of a succession of politicians more interested in media presence than in the realities of public health policy. Now, more than ever, it is vital to understand what has happened to our health service, and to ask whether it is in the public interest for matters to continue in this way.
NHS plc tells the story of how the ideal of universal, comprehensive health care, equally available to all and disconnected from income and the ability to pay, has been progressively eroded, and how the clock is being turned back to pre-NHS days. Now even the shrinking core of free NHS hospital services is being handed over to private providers at the taxpayers’ expense. Allyson Pollock deconstructs slogans like ‘care in the community’, ‘diversity’ and ‘local ownership’, to present a clear and powerful analysis of the transition from a comprehensive and universal service to New Labour’s ‘mixed economy of health care’.
“This book is a stimulating overview of a shift over time that has taken the NHS away from a public health system toward a consumerist approach more concerned with healthcare delivery.”
James Johnson, Chairman of Council, British Medical Association
Allyson Pollock’s criticism of those who have promoted healthcare as a commodity, to be sold for private profit, is based partly on the moral importance of social solidarity and shared risk in providing for health care. But it is also based on economic analyses that lay bare the gross inefficiencies of markets in health and social care. If “what matters is what works”, this book makes clear that healthcare markets can not serve the British people well.
Sir Iain Chalmers, Editor, James Lind Library
It should be required reading for everyone who works in the biggest industry in the country and everyone who uses it. Claire Rayner OBE