Bevan betrayed: the demise of the NHS

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: (Published 06 October 2005) Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:853
  1. Robert Lane (, president,
  2. Alex Paton (, retired consultant physician
  1. Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland
  2. Oxfordshire

    When Labour came to power in 1997 it denounced the private finance initiative (PFI) as “creeping privatisation” and the internal market as a cancer eating away at the NHS. By 2004 the private sector had metastasised to virtually every organ of the health service.

    In 1999 Richard Smith, then editor of the BMJ, wrote an editorial entitled “Perfidious financial idiocy: a ‘free lunch' that could destroy the NHS” to accompany a series of critical articles on PFI by Allyson Pollock and her team. In 2004 Richard Smith left the BMJ to become chief executive of UnitedHealth Europe, a new European arm of an American healthcare company. Simon Stevens, Tony Blair's senior health adviser, was appointed president of the company. Former health secretary Alan Milburn invited UnitedHealth Europe to test a scheme for elderly care.

    We have suggested elsewhere that the NHS is being dismantled and taken over largely by the Americans. But US health guru Barbara Starfield recently pointed …

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