Thursday, 11 February 2016

"Lower Than Vermin"...?

If I wanted to privatise a much-loved public institution, knowing that doing so would be politically toxic, what would I do?
Well, demoralising and overworking the very people who work for that institution would be a good start.
Because then, if I did that, those people might be overworked. They might start underperforming. Lots of them might begin leaving the profession.
Public satisfaction with this public service would hit all time lows. "It's not what it used to be...", people would lament, they endure pain and people die around them due to the service's inefficiency...
Then one day, I'd make an announcement. "This service has been a loved and treasured institution for many years. But it is clear that, however brilliant an idea, in these difficult times, and with record dissatisfaction despite our continued investment, that the service is simply not able to cope with the demands of the 21st Century."
"We have therefore taken the difficult decision to move to a private, insurance-based system. We believe this is the best way to ensure everyone receives the standard of service they deserve."
Of course, there may still be some outcry. "What if we can't afford insurance?", some may say. "Don't worry,", I'll reply. "The very poorest will have their insurance covered by benefits".
Most of the upper classes won't care. They've rarely used the service anyway. Many of them will in fact benefit from this initiative - they have shares in the insurance companies ready to provide the service.
The middle classes will lament the loss, but acknowledge the difficult times we're living in. It'll be difficult, but they can afford the insurance. And hey, if the poorest still have their benefits, they'll still get what they need, right?
But soon envy will start to set in. "Why should I have to work my arse off to get the money to pay insurance for me and my family, while that lot still get it for free?"
So the benefits are cut. No longer a provision, but a subsidy. "It's a question of fairness", I would say.
Soon people are starting to give up more and more to afford the insurance. Missing that holiday here, or if you're poorer, skipping that meal there.
Insurance costs start going up. Those who have been skipping meals, or putting off having to use the private service in an attempt to save money, end up needing it even more when they finally go. A few more people die, or end up in chronic pain, because they don't want to spend money on expensive insurance unnecessarily. A few people decide they don't need insurance anyway. They'll be fine - they're young, they're healthy, they keep fit..
Some charities are set up, but those working for them are volunteers, and not fully qualified. They can't meet the demand. They can't provide all that's needed.
And one day, if they've lived that long, grandparents will be telling their grandchildren: You know, when I was little, we got all this for free. It was considered a right..."
Oh look, Jeremy Hunt has just imposed that new contract on the junior doctors without negotiation. The aim is to create a truly 7-day NHS.
Ah, good old Mr Hunt. Isn't it great we've got a Health Secretary so committed to the NATIONAL Health Service...?

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