It now looks as if the Tories' plan to give 5 small hospitals over to their corporate chums in the healthcare sector has crashed. The original scheme was to kill off 5 NHS hospitals in this way :
- George Eliot, Nuneaton
Of these 5, only one, Hinchinbrooke, has been sold down river. All the rest have been pulled back from the brink.
The question is - why? Why have the Tories dipped out?
I wish it could be said that they trembled before the onslaught of this very campaign, but that would be a bit f an exaggeration. Although the fact that the Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group lost a legal case brought by our Bristol campaign colleagues may have played a part.
Weston Trust claim that it is because the Trust has got better marks in its latest assessment. Congratulations are due to everyone who helped bring about that improvement, but it is not really the reason. Better marks just means that it is a more profitable concern to take over.
The reason is probably down to electoral politics. With a General Election due in a year's time, with the economy less and less of a major preoccupation for people, and with health rising as an issue in people's minds, the Tory campaign managers may have decided to chuck some heavy baggage overboard.
(Incidentally, I love the comments of John Penrose MP, con, Weston super Mare, welcoming this decision. I have a pile of letters from him lauding the private sector as ideally placed to administer health care. "this should kill off any lingering fears that the hospital might be privatised for good", he says. In my correspondence, he denies that franchise means privatisation).
So politics is one factor. Economics may be another. The corporate bean counters will have been doing their sums, and must have realised that they simply do not add up. Weston is under bedded and under funded, the real investigations reveal this, and so they have all lost interest.
At least until the next election. If the Tories win, they will be back with another scheme to benefit their shares in the private sector. So this campaign will continue to monitor the situation closely.