“Stripe me,” said Andy Pandy, “HTF did that happen?

The rush of NHS hospital Trust insolvencies predicted by The Slog back in the Autumn of 2011 finally burst into the open this morning, with Coalition bollocks being spewed out from every available source. The full set of Slogsaying on this one can be viewed here, but the most succinct para is probably this one from May 19th this year:

‘Since May 2010, the 23 private companies working with the NHS have made £1.4 billion in profit. Next year they will make even more, because the monies that should’ve gone into hospital updates and hardware budgets have been diverted towards primary care practitioners preparing to work with and/or hand over to big suppliers in the private sector. It’s perfectly obvious that, starved of funds, within the next eighteen months many local hospital Trusts will either go bust, or require increased private sector services which in turn point to the need for some form of private sector merger, takeover or joint venture.’

The Telegraph reports this morning (and it’s that Bobby Winnett again, folks) that Lansleyite teams are going into seven NHS Trusts…and as ever, Bobby has written it word for word in the best possible Mailese:

‘Simon Burns the health minister said that he will be sending in “hit squads” to make savings at hospitals where….a “cavalier disregard” for taxpayers’ money forced hospitals to pay £242 for a padlock to be changed and £466 for a new light fitting….Mr Burns said officials have identified £1.5 billion of savings which can be made….Seven hospitals got it horribly wrong. It is an absolute disgrace.”

Hmm. Let’s just look at where the ‘disgrace’ lies here, Mr Burns. First, most of this is PFI stuff….and P stands for Private, n’est-ce pas? The same private parts that very nearly f**ked up the Olympic Games thanks to G4S…which has just been handed another plum contract to investigate the Army’s wickedness in Iraq.

Second, he said ‘officials’ had identified £1.5bn of savings therein. But they haven’t gone in yet…so how knoweth they that the savings are there? Or are they, in fact, the same ‘officials’ who approved the 500 quid lightbulbs? You can have notice of those questions – but a reasonably quick response would be good.

And third (natch) the classic Mail/Sun shock horror giving up, um 2 (two) examples…obviously pulled at random from over 14.3m transactions made by the NHS per annum…all by ‘officials’.

Burns, of course, is what pants-on-fire do. But before anyone else yet again writes me off as a Commie, let’s get real:

1. The Slog said this would happen two seconds after Lansley’s cynical award of more funds to a primary care sector whose hardware needs are but a fraction of those required by NHS hospitals….and slaveringly desired by the private healthcare sector.

2. Burns is trying to suggest here that the NHS is ‘disgraceful’ in some way. I happen to think that it is an organisational disaster with sloppy standards in most departments, but the disgrace here, Simon dearie, lies with the management bighair imported from the private sector and the financial fraud that came from the private finance initiative.

3. I also believe that it is in the bighair-meetings-jargon-drivel area that the overmanning still pertains. But these folk are nowadays civil servants, and must not be fired. So let’s chalk up another disgrace for the civil service trade unions and Humphrey Empiah-Billda types, shall we?

Look, the NHS is a complex issue muddied by Unions, mentally odd consultants from another planet, very poor communications, lousy weekend continuity, and equally poorly trained nurses. Point 3 above exemplifies yet again why I say stop all this ‘hands off OUR nhs’ rubbish: it hasn’t been our nhs for forty years: it’s been a Labour v Tory football match, with the civil service incompetently handling crowd control.

In the medium term, my solution remains the same: take the NHS away from the State, and keep it out of the hands of medical insurers. Not only does the private sector have a dire track record in the US, the sums in relation to affordability for the average Brit simply do not add up. Mutualising the NHS is by far the best solution.

This is worse than privatisation by stealth: it is sloppy privatisation, abrogation of social responsibility – and above all, a devious misuse of public funds to make private medical providers even richer.

Nothing will stop this now. In its usual anarchic manner, the Hard Left will wait until it’s a done deal, and then start getting violent; while the Right will call it good management and to hell with the consequences. Localised mutualisation with a responsibility for thrift and care quality was the obvious way to go…but that’s not how this rotten British Establishment plays the game.

Those in this oligarchy are the real disgrace here. Let us all remember how this happened – and how it could have been avoided – the next time someone calls this site closet Tory or disguised Socialism. This site is for clearing the whole sorry shower out and injecting some accountable decency into public life.