In both the corporate and independent media, there is now an abundance of articles exposing what is happing to the NHS and why. This section of our website is not intended to be an exhaustive list of media sources, but rather a helpful starting point for your own reading.
Independent / Non-Corporate Media
The Lowdown is a publication with a focus on health care. It aims to provide “evidence-based journalism and research on the NHS.” Open Democracy : Our NHS is a sub-domain of Open Democracy and is dedicated to providing a platform for directly reporting NHS news ignored by corporate media. Many outspoken NHS professionals have made use of this platform. Public Matters is a blog from Deborah Harrington and Jessica Ormerod, former members of the National Health Action Party. They write various essays that draw links between different public services. The link will take you to their essays relating to the NHS. The Canary is an IMPRESS-regulated news platform established in 2015. They have helpfully organised their articles by topic. The link will take you to their articles relating to the NHS.
In this video editor-in-chief - Kerry-Anne Mendoza - discusses the origins of The Canary, and the role of alternative media in general in exposing how the principles that underpin the foundations of public services like the NHS have been eroded, leading to the absurdity of our hospitals being run like businesses.
Evolve Politics is an IMPRESS-regulated news and current affairs website founded in 2015. The link will take you to their articles relating to the NHS. Another Angry Voice is the blog site of Thomas G. Clark, started in 2010. We highly recommend his articles for their well researched and insightful content. The link will take you to his articles relating to the NHS. Red Pepper is a non-partisan anti-capitalist quarterly magazine that (to some extent) pitches itself as a resource for campaigners. It has published a lot of articles (some very useful) relating to the NHS. The Skwawkbox founded in 2009, “is written to try to present information and analysis that will rarely make it into the mainstream media because it doesn't fit their agenda and the narrative they want to present.” The link will take you to their articles relating to the NHS. Spinwatch founded in 2005, investigates the way that the public relations (PR) industry and corporate & government propaganda distort public debate and undermine democracy. The link will take you to their articles relating to health issues in the UK and Europe.
Articles by Dr Jacky Davis
Co-author of NHS for Sale - Myths, Lies and Deception
Articles by Professor Allyson Pollock
She has been campaigning against and researching into NHS privatisation for over 20 years, and has written extensively about PFI. She is author of NHS Plc - The Privatisation of Our Health Care
Articles by Dr Youssef-El-Gingihy
Author of How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps
Articles by Dr Kailash Chand
GP and deputy chair of the British Medical Association (BMA).
We Own It | 4th June 2020
The NHS is being systematically dismantled by privatisation“The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted in a sudden and dramatic manner how dependent we are as a society on the NHS as a public service. ...However there is no guarantee that the privatisation agenda will not continue after the virus crisis is over. ...This article aims to chart the decades’ long process of the undermining of the NHS which began as far back as 1977.”
Tribune | 24th March 2020
How Market Reforms Made the NHS Vulnerable to Pandemics“The Lansley Act's conversion of [the] NHS into a system of competing businesses ('trusts') made the UK extra-vulnerable to pandemics...”
The Guardian | 19th January 2020
Bed shortages leave Sunderland patients to sleep overnight in A&E“Patients have had to sleep overnight in the A&E unit of one of the NHS's biggest hospitals because it is overwhelmed by the number of people needing care, a leaked memo reveals.”
iNews | 9th August 2019
NHS staff in Bradford go on 'indefinite' strike over 'backdoor privatisation' fears“Hundreds of low-paid hospital staff have voted to strike indefinitely over plans to effectively strip them of their NHS status in what could prove to be a test case over “backdoor privatisation” and the creation of a two-tier workforce.”
Open Democracy | 4th August 2019
A war of attrition against hospital services in South Tyneside and across the country“When NHS England (NHSE) and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and trust managers decide they want to close a hospital and associated services they do it by attrition, bit by bit, to slow down and overcome public opposition. The closure of a baby unit, the removal of A&E children’s services, the downgrading of a maternity services or the removal of acute orthopaedics spells the end of the A&E department and leads to the closure of many departments and with them the end of the district general hospital (DGH).”
Red Pepper | 27th May 2019
Free trade can seriously damage your health“With US insurers, tech giants, and big pharma already eyeing up Britain's precious National Health Service, it is imperative that if Britain leaves the EU, we do so in a way that safeguards against signing a deal that allows for these kind of practises. It is also imperative that working people see through the jingoism pedalled by the likes of Farage and realise that he and his colleagues are merely an extreme version of an already-entrenched elite, and not the working-class heroes they claim to be.”
Monbiot.com | 12th April 2019
Quantomania“Many of the staff had objected to a decision by the National Health Service to privatise the hospital's cancer scanning. They complained that the scanners the private company was offering are less sensitive than the hospital's own machines. Privatisation, they said, would put patients at risk. In response, as the Guardian revealed last week, NHS England threatened to sue the hospital for libel if its staff continued to criticise the decision.”
The Independent | 11th July 2018
Don't be fooled, Matt Hancock will be no better for the NHS than Jeremy Hunt was“The Lansley Act devolved the control of the NHS to bodies, such as NHS England. If any single person is responsible for the NHS, then it is Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England.”
The Mirror | 10th May 2018
MPs set to debate charging patients to use the NHS“Right winger Mr Chope's bill would open the floodgates to charging for a host of other services which could include GP appointments and some hospital procedures”
Counterfire | 22nd March 2018
NHS: stop the backdoor privatisation“Some 35 NHS trusts are creating "wholly owned companies" to which their non-clinical staff - porters, cleaners and estates staff - will have their employment transferred. "Wholly owned" is the chosen description because ownership by the trusts disguises the vulnerability of these companies to market forces and takeover.”
The Independent | 18th January 2018
PFI deals are bleeding the NHS dry - some hospitals can't even afford to buy sutures to stitch up wounds“The use of Private Finance Initiatives was driven by a mixture of questionable ideology (private always does things better), dodgy accounting (it takes debt off the state's book although the state still has to repay it) and dubious accountants.”
The Independent | 28th November 2017
NHS makes undisclosed settlement to Richard Branson's Virgin Care after legal dispute“Virgin Care sued the NHS last year after it lost out on an £82m contract to provide children’s health services across Surrey...”
Another Angry Voice | 23rd April 2017
Why you need to speak to someone who works in the NHS“I'm asking you to speak to someone you know who works in the NHS and ask them about a number of specific issues.”
The Independent | 7th January 2017
Government 'systematic underfunding' to blame for NHS humanitarian crisis, Labour says“The Government has been accused of being misleading over how much it spends on the NHS”
The Guardian | 25th November 2016
Thatcher pushed for breakup of welfare state despite NHS pledge“PM declared the health service was 'safe with us' but secretly pressed on with radical proposals, archives reveal”
iNews | 12th September 2016
Jeremy Hunt has blood on his hands' - Raymond Tallis's expert assault on the Health Secretary“Hunt's contempt for the NHS had been spelled out in 'Direct Democracy', a volume that he co-authored, in which he had asserted that the organisation was 'irrelevant to the 21st century'. In 2005, and again in 2008, he called for the de-nationalisation of the NHS and for a US-style insurance scheme.”
The Independent | 13th July 2016
If you think there is no money for NHS funding you'd be right - PFI has sucked it dry“The total UK Private Finance Initiatives (PFI) debt is over £300bn. To put it more simply: this debt would cover the entire NHS budget for approximately two and a half years.”
The Independent | 24th April 2016
The health crisis is about more than junior doctors on strike. We need a public movement to save our NHS“...the junior doctor contract can only be understood in the context of privatisation. The contract is really about the restructuring of the workforce to bring down the wage bill. It is designed to increase profit margins paving the way for privatisation.”
The Belfast Telegraph | 11th March 2016
NHS Reinstatement Bill: Tory MPs filibuster debate by talking about deporting foreigners for hours“...the Bill did not receive a full debate because backbench Conservative MPs discussing a short bill to deport foreign criminals - which had already been debated before - used up available parliamentary time by talking for four and a half hours.”
The Belfast Telegraph | 11th March 2016
NHS has been abolished, according to the World Health Organisation definition“The introduction of market forces increases cost, reduces efficiency and increases iniquitous provision of healthcare. We know this from extensive data across many countries. This is because privatisation seeks to make profits, pays out dividends to shareholders and creates layers of bureaucracy administered by tiers of staff and managers through market mechanisms such as billing, tendering and contracting.”
The Independent | 10th February 2016
Jeremy Hunt co-authored book calling for NHS to be replaced with private insurance“'Direct Democracy: An Agenda For A New Model Party' called for the 'denationalisation' of the NHS”
The Guardian | 4th August 2015
How to sell off the NHS - in nine easy steps“It won’t be easy, but with this handy step-by-step guide you too can privatise a health service.”
The Independent | 17th July 2015
The principle of a free, taxpayer-funded NHS 'must be questioned', says Tory health minister“Lord Prior, the Government's minister for NHS Productivity, is moving to set up an independent inquiry into whether the current free-at-the-point-of-use service is sustainable.”
The Guardian | 2nd May 2015
Fears grow over 'land grab' of NHS by private suppliers“This announcement marks the final step in giving the private sector the power, influence and a big slice of the NHS budget. There is now a massive conflict of interest with private companies like UnitedHealth, KPMG and McKinsey in charge of the GPs' budget and increasingly buying care from the self-same private sector. The Tories have put Dracula in charge of the blood bank.”
Open Democracy | 12th February 2015
Don't believe the false reassurance about NHS privatisation“The evidence is that a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS provides the best care for patients and the best value for money, so the question remains - why are politicians pushing it down the road to privatisation? The public didn't vote for it and polls repeatedly show that we don't want it. Privatisation is an ideological luxury which wastes money and destabilises the NHS and has no purpose other than diverting money to shareholders and enriching some MPs, peers and political donors.”
The Guardian | 19th November 2014
Private firms on course to net £9bn of NHS contracts“Dr Mark Porter, chair of council at the British Medical Association, said the deepening privatisation exposed by the figures proved that ministers had not told the truth when they denied that Lansley's shakeup would produce more of it in the NHS.”
The Telegraph | 26th October 2014
The list of 66 A&E and maternity units being hit by cuts“...dozens of NHS maternity and Accident & Emergency units have been closed or downgraded since the last election, with even more under threat”
Counterfire | 5th December 2013
The great NHS swindle“The direction of travel certainly began in the 80s under Thatcher, and every reform since then has been a strengthening of the market structure, transforming the NHS from a publicly funded body into a huge mix of private providers. But it was Thatcher's imposition of the "Purchaser/provider split" in 1990 which decisively opened the way for the marketisation of the NHS.”
The Guardian | 5th March 2013
The government is trying to privatise the NHS through back door regulations“...virtually all commissioning by commissioning groups to be done through competitive markets, forcing through privatisation. They contain sweeping, statutory powers for the regulator, Monitor, to enforce competition, on their own account or at the request of private companies.”
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism | 11th September 2012
Analysis: The new health secretary and the £650m private healthcare takeover“Lansley's Health and Social Care Act, which passed into law despite concern from both the public and the medical profession, was most controversial for opening the supply of healthcare provision to 'any qualified provider' (ie. allowing private companies to bid to takeover any NHS service).”
The Independent | 9th September 2012
Jeremy Hunt and privatisation are no recipe for saving the NHS - but try telling the Blairites that“The appointment of the new Secretary of State for Health [Jeremy Hunt] should be a warning for all; we must learn from our former mistakes before privatising our national institution.”
Verso Books | 8th August 2012
"All that was once directly lived..." redwashing, the Olympic opening ceremony and hot patriotic tears“...this spectacle of dissent is acceptable only because it is no challenge to the established order. And, further, that this recuperation, this inclusion of a stylised and neutralised radicalism does not just subsume the radical but strengthens the order itself by making it appear to tolerate dissent?”
Media Lens | 25th April 2012
‘People Will Die’ - The End Of The NHS. Part 2: Buried By The BBC“Along with the NHS, the BBC is supposed to epitomise the best of British institutions. The BBC has a duty, enshrined in its Charter, to report objectively on stories of national and international interest. The NHS affects every man, woman and child in the country. And yet we suspect very few members of the public realise what has just happened to their health care system.”
Media Lens | 23rd April 2012
‘People Will Die’ - The End Of The NHS. Part 1: The Corporate Assault“Few political acts have exposed the sham of British ‘democracy’ like the decision to dismantle the National Health Service. In essence, the issues are simple: 1. The longstanding obligation of the UK government to provide universal health care has now been ditched. 2. The NHS is being carved open for exploitation by private interests.”
The London Progressive Journal | 22nd February 2012
The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it“...a local NHS Trust, previously responsible for providing healthcare to prisoners in several prisons across the North East of England, was passed over for the contract it previously had, in favour of Care UK, a private healthcare group, run by John Nash who donated a six figure sum to the Tory party pre-election.”
Doctors for the NHS | 14th November 2011
The Fight to Save Britain's NHS“the politicians for ideological reasons, and the private sector for financial reasons, have had the NHS - traditionally publicly funded, publicly delivered and publicly accountable - in their sights for some time. They have acted together, beneath the radar, to turn the NHS from a cost-effective integrated public service into a kite mark attached to a ragbag of competing private providers.”
Spin Watch | 9th May 2011
"The NHS will be shown no mercy" says Cameron health adviser“The NHS will be shown no mercy and the best time to take advantage of that will be in the next few years" - Mark Britnell”
International Socialist Journal | 4th April 2011
The return of fear“...the assault involves the wholesale restructuring of welfare services based on a massive extension of privatisation. Involving the private sector in the provision of public services is, of course, hardly new. The Public/Private Partnerships promoted by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were a barely-disguised version of the Private Finance Initiative first introduced by the Conservative governments of the 1990s. Academic critics such as Allyson Pollock have also highlighted the extent to which private sector consultancies and multinational healthcare firms continued to flourish and to milk the NHS following New Labour’s election in 1997.8 What is different this time round, however, is the sheer scale of the proposed privatisations.”
Red Pepper | 1st October 2010
Dismantling the NHS“In reality, the plan to turn the National Health Service into a healthcare market does not rest on rational arguments but material interests. Any realistic strategy to resist the Tory plans must start out from that fact: the plans are not really new, but are the culmination of a decade-long campaign by the private health industry to get its hands on the NHS budget.”
The Guardian | 16th August 2009
Key Tory MPs backed call to dismantle NHS“Both books call for the NHS to be replaced by a new system of health provision in which people would pay money into personal health accounts, which they could then use to shop around for care from public and private providers. Those who could not afford to save enough would be funded by the state.”
The Guardian | 30th June 2006
Blair's bad medicine“The government's reforms of the NHS are causing huge concern among doctors, other healthcare workers and patients' groups. The moves have no evidence base and no popular support, and have come in under the radar without public debate or parliamentary discussion. Hospitals are seeing patients diverted to the private sector even when there is capacity in the NHS, and primary care is under threat from the multinationals.”
Monbiot.com | 21st December 2000
The NHS is Being Privatised“There’s not much to be said for the privatisation of the railways, but at least it was honest. The Conservatives told us what they were doing, so we fought them, and when we lost, we kicked them out of office. Governments and their lobbyists will never make that mistake again. Privatisations, from now on, will be so subtle, so complex, that even the ministers implementing them may not be fully aware of what they’re doing. This is the means by which the greatest prize of all is now being delivered to the private sector.”Every government from the Thatcher government of the 1980s, to the current conservative government (2018) have done their part in furthering the process of privatisation. The apparent rate of change towards a U.S. style health system has increased as each administration builds upon the work of its predecessor. The New Labour governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown (not to be confused with the current Jeremy Corbyn-led Labour party), took big strides towards privatisation, by radically restructuring the NHS and expanding the use of PFI. This built the bridges that David Cameron's government marched over with the 2012 Health and Social Care Act (removing the duty of the Secretary of State for Health to provide universal health care throughout England).
Mainstream / Corporate Media
It's helpful to question the content of articles about the NHS, particularly those from the mainstream / corporate media. The bigger picture, which can be complex, is frequently omitted. This is not always deliberate on the part of an article's author, but it is possible to discern an escalating anti-NHS smear campaign when you consider the totality of the corporate media output.
The Guardian has more of what the renowned investigative journalist John Pilger refers to as 'fig leaves'. That is, authors and content that add some degree of balance to the output. But as Pilger and others point out, even NHS coverage by those platforms with a reputation for objectivity; The Guardian, the BBC and Channel 4, often fails to inform the public of what is happening.
Many corporate media articles more-or-less parrot the Government / NHS England position. This is due in part to journalists relying for the source of their 'facts' on the same 'policy experts' used by the politicians to justify their plans. Most of the think-tanks that you will have heard of - because they are the most commonly referenced by the media and politicians (The Adam Smith Institute, The Institute of Economic Affairs, Reform, Policy Exchange, and several others) - are free-market orientated organisations most often funded by (and therefore allied with) 'dark money'. Their wealthy and corporate donors are seeking 'analysis' that is favourable to their agenda in return for their donations. That 'analysis' provides a third-party source that is often presented as impartial 'fact', and used to shape public opinion and support government policy. Opaque think-tanks are both proxies for corporate lobbying and convenient sources for like-minded or lazy journalists to cite.
One of the most frequently cited think-tanks with regard to the NHS is The Kings Fund. This is partly because it's sole remit is health care (having been formed in 1897 to help the poor in London access health care), and partly because it can claim to be less opaque and more 'independent' than the think-tanks mentioned above. However, from its own website you can see that a quarter of its funding comes from 'commercial organisations' including some corporate partners who stand to benefit from NHS privatisation, and as Open Democracy points out, it received over half-a-million-pounds from the government in 2010. It is therefore very hard to imagine how The King's Fund could be truly independent. Reports generated by The King's Fund can be contradictory, but you can be sure that it will never produce a report that flatly contradicts current Government / NHS England policy until such time that the 'cement has dried' and policy details have moved on, rendering any contradictory analysis far less inconvenient for the Government / NHS England. This pattern was observed by Dr Jacky Davis in her article: Don't believe the false reassurance about NHS privatisation. Think-tanks are 'players' in the revolving door that furthers the careers of so many government ministers and industry executives. The King's Fund is no exception to this. One of the significant moments in this ongoing process of NHS privatisation was NHS Plan 2000. This Act of parliament flung open the doors of the NHS to private clinical providers. It was co-authored by Penny Dash who previously worked for Kaiser Permanente, a U.S. Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO) that has been one of the vaunted models for health system transformation in England. Penny Dash went on to join the board of Monitor, the organisation that enforces tendering and competition in the health service, then she went on to become vice Chair of The King's Fund.
Even if a think-tank can claim to be 'independent', it still has an agenda. All think-tanks, whether they are anti-democratic or progressive, exists to engage in activism, to change public opinion and policy. Think-tanks that behave as if we live in an ideological vacuum, unwittingly or knowingly conspire with power and undermine democracy rather than strengthen it. As of 2018, The King's Fund is currently backing Government / NHS England policy to implement plans that will set up Accountable Care Organisations (also known as Integrated Care Providers or ICPs), which are an adaptation of the U.S. HMO model for the England.
A common trope used by corporate media is the false-flag. You will come across a sensational - and often true - headline, such as “NHS Plans to Close Hospitals and A&E Departments Kept Secret from the Public, Investigation Finds”, only to have the article suggest that there is no real cause for alarm. The above article (published after the release of the NTWND STP) is typical for its omission of the political context. While the article may have introduced some people to the threat of pending widespread hospital and A&E closures (like the Path to Excellence in South Tyneside), it does so while deflecting the reader from the bigger picture of NHS privatisation. The author - Katie Forster - refers to an NHS deficit, rather than deliberate NHS underfunding (in a publicly run and funded system there is no such thing as a deficit), with no mention of the many previous damaging and costly reorganisations, the expensive internal market, and the many other ways (such as the Private Finance Initiative) in which private corporations are syphoning billions of pounds from the NHS budget. The title suggests that this article is the result of an 'investigation'. Yet there is no analysis, only X said this, and Y said that. It asks no questions such as; Why is there structural underfunding? How do STPs fit into that picture? Where is democracy and the mandate for these changes? An attempt is made to cite The King's Fund in a critical capacity, but they are cited most effectively as a proponent of the STPs and the secrecy around them - the suggestion being that while it might have been better to find a way to 'involve' the public, the implicit direction of travel (otherwise not discussed) is fine. While this article and others like it are not useless, they do present a narrow and potentially misleading picture.
'Reforms' of the NHS -- from the introduction of the 'internal market' in 1990, to the dismantling 2012 Health and Social Care Act, and the NHS Long Term Plan that splits the NHS into 44 regional health systems -- have all been consistently designed to directly increase, or pave the way for privatisation. They have all been implemented, often in secret, without any public mandate whatsoever. At this advanced stage of privatisation, we hardly need proof any more of the intention to model our health service on the corrupt, costly and cruel personal health insurance-based systems epitomised and exaggerated in the U.S. Therefore, if an article is not founded upon the premise that the NHS is being privatised, that privatisation - particularly of health care - is harmful, and is symptomatic of Corruption, then it will likely be misleading to some degree. Judging by the comments left by readers at the bottom of many such articles, it is reassuring to note that lots of people do see through the obfuscation to the underlying ideology.
- We Own It | 4th June 2020