Danny Boyle had us all fooled. There we were, thinking the dancing nurses and luminous NHS logo in his opening ceremony for the Olympic Games were part of a piece of ‘Marxist propaganda’, when actually he was sneakily paving the way for what Labour this morning derided as the ‘rampant commercialisation’ of the health service.
Yes: it turns out that the Olympic opening ceremony was just one big fat right wing advertising ploy to entice the world to buy into Brand NHS. Whoops. The government is opening an agency called Healthcare UK, which is designed to set up contacts between world-respected NHS operations and private clients overseas. The Health department and UK Trade and Investments, the joint creators of this agency, believe the private clinics and consultancy services that spring up as a result will bring in much-needed funding for the NHS here. But Labour’s shadow health minister Jamie Reed said this morning:
‘At a time when staff are losing their jobs and waiting times are rising, the Government’s priority should be sorting out the mess it has created in our NHS. Under David Cameron we’re seeing a rampant commercialisation of the NHS. He needs to get a grip and start focusing on patients, not profits.’
Reed does have a point here: the Health and Social Care Act is now being implemented, which could make the wranglings over the legislation in parliament look like child’s play. The only slightly awkward problem here is that Healthcare UK sounds painfully like the NHS Global initiative that Labour created when in government, just minus the leaping nurses and light-up beds. Set up in March 2010, it aimed to emulate the BBC Worldwide model of exploiting a recognised and trusted brand overseas (read: rampant commercialisation of the NHS). Enthusiastic ministers and directors had cited potential earnings of at least £50 billion for the health service, but in December 2011, the Health department revealed that no deals at all had been signed through NHS Global. Perhaps Healthcare UK should use Boyle as their creative director for pitches.Tags: NHS, UK politics