The social contract is being all but torn up by the coalition government, without the rigour of proper parliamentary or democratic consultation, in its various attempts to privatise and marketise huge swathes of publicly funded services – the ‘big society’ philosophy of collective taxation that existed decades before David Cameron ever copycatted the inimical discourse of subordinating everything to free-market economics, subjecting ordinary working class citizens to his ideologically driven scorched-earth policy of public cost-cutting, driven in tandem with his laissez-faire attitude to the feral rich, or his underplaying of the responsibility those in authority must share for the very worrying recent spate of criminal activity we saw on our very own streets in Birmingham.
I am extremely worried about our public services, but in particular I fear for the very existence of the NHS given the current plans. Up-to-date legal advice suggests that big problems remain. The legal opinion is here: http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-legal-advice.
One of the key issues highlighted in the legal opinion is that the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a National Health Service is removed, which effectively washes the government’s hands of responsibility for provision. While Obama fights to universalise America’s health service, the coalition is opening up the NHS to potentially become a system riddled with inequality and unfairness.
Other problems identified include exposing the NHS to competition law; allowing private companies to be paid to work on NHS commissioning; eroded political accountability for the health service; and money wasted on costly procurement procedures.