Interview – Dr Jacky Davis shares UK experiences of attacks on public hospitals & NHS with Save Bulli ED supporters in Australia

Dr Jacky Davis, is a strong advocate of the UK NHS Public Health System which is currently under attack (see people’s comments). Save Bulli ED Co-convenor, Caroline Colton, interviewed Dr Davis as part of her presentation :  “I just can’t get my head around this” to the Save Bulli ED Public Rally on July 29 2012.

Dr Jacky Davis – passionately fighting for UK NHS public health system


1.  Jacky – what is going on in the health care system that citizens have very little awareness of?


All healthcare systems are under strain because of aging populations, bigger range of more costly treatments, increased expectations. We all face these problems, but combined with global financial difficulties, they are being used as an excuse to undermine traditional health care systems. Those systems that are publicly funded are particularly attractive to transnational corporations who want to get their hands on billions of public money . They see our systems as the pearl in the oyster if only they can prise it open. So publicly funded systems everywhere – UK, Canada, Australia – are being targetted by these companies. Politicians can’t do this up front as our health systems are popular with voters so they dress it up with words like patients choice, increased efficiency, as well as threats about the problems we face, saying we simply cant go on like this. In fact the biggest problem we face  is the onslaught by the private sector who are turning efficient and cost effective public services into fragmented and expensive private services with profits going to share holders instead of back into front line care


2. Is awareness growing through local people fighting for their district hospitals and Accident & Emergency Departments (A&E’s) in particular?


Politicians have been very careful about how they presented these developments to the public, dressed up as being better for patients,more efficient and  innovative and so on so naturally it has taken a while to understand what is being done in our name. In the UK private corporations like Virgin operate behind the logo of the our National health Service so patients dont even know their care is now being delivered by these transnationals. But when people see their local services under threat then they understand what they are about to to lose and these local campaigns are very important. And through local campaings people see the  bigger picture and thats how national campaigns begin


3. How does privatisation affect doctors?

We can only predict what will happen to doctors as the process is just getting underway here. As private companies take over the public service health workers including  doctorss are being seconded to these companies with loss, in the long term of their national T&Cs and pension schemes. At the same time core treatments, which have always been free, are being reduced and doctors are being set targets about how many patients they can refer to hospital, asked to reduce their consultation times and so on, in other words interference with their clinical judgements. We dont know yet whether we will end up like the US system where so much of doctors time is taken up with paper work and fighting for their patients right to have treatment.


4. In Australia, hospitals run by local autonous community boards have been put forward as an alternative model to hospitals managed by the health bueaucracy – what has happened to hospitals in England who have followed this model?


Hospitals in England have been forced to become autonomous Foundation trusts, whose only duty is to balance the books. Many are already in financial difficulties, crippled by the debts of PPP (Public Private Partnership) projects forced on them by politicians, These PPP contracts have proved a disaster, we pay 10 x the value of  what the public sector gets, and hospitals are simply crushed by their debts. Three have recently gone into receivership and we have no idea what will happen to the staff and patients. At the same time these hospitals now have to compete with each other which makes it very difficult to exercise the traditional cooperation which benefitted patients


5. What are the implications for national health planning and things like preventative medicine when corporations like SERCO takeover health services?


We’re very concerned about large contracts being awarded to companies like Serco and Virgin whose core business is winning government contracts. They then have to put together the package, perhaps with no previous experience. Weve seen community services including childrens services awarded to these companies, and they have little or no experience in these fields. And of course if they fail they will have to be bailed out just like the banks because you can’t let public services fail, they aren’t like mobile phone companies. It really is a case of privatise the profits and socialise the risks, we’re seeing it here already. As for joined up thinking about long term  planning and public health, that looks as though it will be another casualty. How can it be otherwise when the health service is now all about competition – you need collaboration not competition in order to plan for population health and that’s exactly what we won’t have now


6. What is your message for the people of the Illawarra? (in a brief statement)


My message from our campaign to yours is to fight locally but think nationally. Its really important to fight for local services, the people who make these decisions which destroy our public services get where they are via the ballot box and we can get rid of them in the same way. At the same time this is a national and international issue, we’re all facing this vandalism and privatisation of our public services and we need to work together.  We must alert the public to the threat, persuade people that we can fight this, its a political and ideological decision to privatise and outsource public serives.
I wish you the best of luck with your fight, we will win because we can’t afford to fail.

Caroline Colton Save Bulli ED Co Convenor : “I just can’t get my head around this” – featuring contributions from UK’s Dr Jacky Davis

Thanks to Dr Jacky Davis for sharing these thoughts with the supporters of Save Bulli Emergency Department

You can follow Dr Jacky Davis on Twitter for more information on threats to the UK NHS system – and see how it compares to our Australian experiences.

Fighting to Save Bulli Hospital Emergency Department


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