Croydon University Hospital is currently threatened with legal action by the Care Quality Commission over a number of serious shortcomings, including shortages of equipment and staff. The root cause of these shortcomings is cuts in government funding, disguised as demands for “efficiency savings” and the leeching of tax payers’ money into the Private Finance Initiative (PFI). So why is Croydon University Hospital wasting its stretched resources on stuffing the already replete off-shore bank accounts of Richard Branson?
In April Croydon University Hospital part-sold the Accident and Emergency Service to Richard Branson’s profiteering company, Virgin. Could anyone without a vested interest in the deal have seriously expected that Virgin’s involvement would improve the service or produced savings for the tax payer? Anyone familiar with Virgin’s expensive and unreliable rail and bus services who was aware that they receive huge public subsidies would have known better. However, we only had to wait for the first quarter’s results to have our fears confirmed: for the first time in three and a half years Croydon University Hospital failed to meet its target of seeing 95% of patients at A&E within four hours.
Although they deny it, the NHS is being privatised by the Tories, with the Lib Dems complicit in this conspiracy. The well meaning Labour MP for Croydon North, Malcolm Wicks, is quoted in the Croydon Advertiser (3 August 2012) as saying that missing the A&E target “sends a strong signal about the dangers of privatising the NHS”. Indeed it does, and it is to be welcomed that Mr Wicks has now recognised these dangers, but it was under the previous Labour administration, in which he was a minister, that privatisation of the NHS and other public services gained momentum through the expansion of PFI.
Unlike Mr Wicks, the Communist Party has consistently opposed every form of privatisation, including PFI. For us, public services, and indeed society as a whole, should be organised democratically to meet the needs of its citizens, not to maximise the wealth of a few rich individuals like Richard Branson and their army of acolytes and hangers on.