Letters Private medicine’s real manifesto

Article is a call to arms to defend the NHS

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f4860 (Published 06 August 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4860
  1. John Puntis, paediatrician1
  1. 1Leeds General Infirmary, Leeds LS1 3EX, UK
  1. john.puntis{at}yahoo.co.uk

On the 65th anniversary of the NHS, Farrell wittily exposes the pernicious new ideology of “private does it better” at the heart of the health service “reforms” and the inevitable deterioration in services for those who cannot afford to pay upfront for treatment.1 The Health and Social Care Act is ushering in a system that will cost more, be less efficient, and deliver less care. We are returning to a mixed health economy of the sort abandoned by common consent in 1948, putting the clock back in the name of “progress” such that (as John Lister has remarked) the coalition government can now claim credit for reinventing the flat tyre. The NHS was not perfect, but to destroy it by seeking to emulate the American model is unacceptable to all but the few who stand to make unhealthy profits.

The battle for the NHS is not yet lost; all who think it is worth defending must strive for the next government to repeal the act, something that is possible without another expensive reorganisation. Reinstatement of the duties of the secretary of state for health and of the NHS as the preferred service provider would do much to neutralise the destructive capacity of “Lansley’s monster.” As Harry Keen, that great champion of socialised medicine observed, “The government intends to hold the NHS under water until the bubbles stop rising. But the bubbles will never stop rising.” Let Farrell’s reflections be a call to arms.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4860


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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