Intended for healthcare professionals

Observations Life and Death

Not safe in their hands

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: (Published 20 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1004
  1. Iona Heath, retired general practitioner, London
  1. iona.heath22{at}

By making the NHS available for private profit, the government has undermined its foundations in notions of shared responsibility, reciprocity, and social solidarity

Since the current government came to power in May 2010, the NHS has been subject to a steady and intensely subversive stream of adverse propaganda, which was initiated, quite deliberately, at a time of unprecedented public satisfaction with the service. Perversely, the indiscriminate condemnation has tended to obscure the undeniable occurrence of regrettable failures within the service and also to minimise the influence of system breakdowns that are continually exacerbated by the effects of financial stringency, the disruption of unnecessary structural “reform,” and the adverse effects of austerity on the health of poor and vulnerable people.

At the same time, the propaganda has profoundly undermined the morale of the vast majority of conscientious and committed healthcare workers. Governments should perhaps work harder to remember that there is an ethic of reciprocity and that we reap what we sow—history shows us that when governments lose sight of such things they become a danger to themselves and to their people.

We hear all the …

View Full Text

Log in

Log in through your institution


* For online subscription