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Sleep walking into full NHS privatisation, from Accountable Care Organisations, Sustainable Transfor

Today I attended the London Councils Summit at the Guild Hall. It is the first time I've been to such an event.

One of the meetings in the afternoon was about health and social care. With Sustainable Transformation Partnerships (STP) being so topical, I thought we'd dwell on them for the entire hour. Not to be. The first speaker, leader of the London Borough of Redbridge told us about how the London boroughs of Redbridge, Barnet & Dagenham and Havering were forming an Accountable Care Organisation. Why would this be of concern?

Accountable Care Organisations (ACO) are an American concept, now imported into England. In the US, an ACO is a form of health company that provides managed care - care that follows a set of protocols and pathways on the basis of capitation. Capitation is a payment arrangement for health care service providers such as physicians or nurse practitioners. It pays a physician or group of physicians a set amount for each enrolled person assigned to them, per period of time, whether or not that person seeks care. In other words, a fixed amount for each person in the area served by the ACO - which in the US is a private company, called a Health Management Organisation (HMO).

It is important to remember that President Nixon - the crook president - promoted these HMOs in the HMO Act 1973. John Ehrlichman - who was later imprisoned for his role in the Watergate scandal - persuaded Nixon that HMOs were the future for American healthcare on the grounds that:

"All the incentives are toward less medical care, because the less care they give the more money they make."

Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health, advocates that the NHS should turn itself into a series of ACOs based on the American Kaiser Permanente system. Please see HERE for how well this company supports universal access to healthcare.

What is now evermore concerning is how far Labour councils are working towards the demise of the NHS. If our own side is betraying us, it will not be long before universal, free at the point of need health care is ended. We used to have the best healthcare system in the world, in terms of outcomes. Now it is being starved of resources, fragmented by inept politicians all without a democratic mandate. Obviously this is just England. The other countries of the union are governed by people who put the interests of their residents before discredited ideology.

We must not adopt the STP - making accountants not clinicians responsible for health care decisions - nor create an ACO. If we do, it is no exaggeration to say, that we will see the end of the NHS in our lifetime. I worry about the future of our young people, if this goes ahead. I worry about the elderly. I worry about myself, living with diabetes and leukaemia. Darker days are coming, unless we change it.