HOW much longer can public health services in England survive a government that refuses to invest properly in health and social care while asset-stripping NHS land and property?
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declares that “NHS patients cannot afford another year of Theresa May,” which puts a huge responsibility on his party, trade unions and all voters opposed to May’s neoliberal government.
She and Chancellor Philip Hammond remain attached to David Cameron and George Osborne’s priorities of tax breaks for big business and the wealthy elite while starving the NHS of the resources it needs.
May announced her support during the general election for the Naylor Review of NHS property resources published without fanfare in March, but most people have no idea what it contains.
Naylor proposed that “inefficiently used land and property” be sold to raise cash for front-line NHS requirements, but shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth warns that the Tories are planning a “fire sale” of NHS assets.
According to Ashworth, no fewer than 117 sites deemed surplus to requirements are currently used for clinical or medical purposes.
Land becomes “surplus” to NHS requirements under Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt when facilities are suspended “temporarily” before being designated for closure, as happened earlier this year in South Devon when community hospitals in Paignton, Ashburton, Dartmouth and Bovey Tracey were first terminated for new patients and then shut down totally.
That is likely to be the pattern for as long as May remains in Number 10, discontinuing facilities and selling the land under them to property speculators.
Her government has washed its hands of the need to invest in the NHS, obliging health trusts to generate their own funds by flogging off property that belongs to us all.
The Tories opposed the setting up of the NHS, they remain hostile to the very concept of a free public health service financed by general taxation and they are allowing it to crumble before our eyes.