Let me try to explain what is happening to the NHS, because a lot of people don't seem to understand it. I certainly don't fully understand it either, but I can make empirical observations that are grounded in fact.
The Tories want to privatise the NHS. I don't necessarily believe they want to privatise it so that they can make millions from cushy jobs on the boards of private healthcare firms, although there is much evidence to suggest that many Tory MPs have significant ties to medical insurance companies and suchlike. I believe they want to privatise it because that is the Conservative ethos - small society, capitalism, services driven by market forces, etc.
The Tories aren't going to put privatisation of the NHS as a manifesto policy. Of course they're not. The public love the NHS and want ti to be protected. The Tories know that.
The Tories don't NEED to say they're going to privatise it. In fact, they can privatise it by pretending to protect it.
They've cleverly changed legislation to allow budgeting decisions to be made on a local level, so that treatments can be withheld based on reasons that can be determined on a postcode lottery basis. It starts with simple stuff. My local hospital no longer offers varicose vein surgery on the NHS. It used to. The public are happy with that decision, because it's essentially a cosmetic procedure. It's not entirely cosmetic though, because untreated varicose veins can cause serious health problems. At that point the NHS will treat them, but many will have already paid to have them done privately before they're eligible for NHS treatment. Other 'non-essential' treatments get withheld. Getting your ears syringed by the GP. Physio following an injury. More than an arbitrary number of counselling sessions. These are all things that the public will accept that we should pay for, because we're constantly told that the NHS costs a fortune and we're all feeling the effects of austerity, and so agree that these things should be cut.
The reality is that although the NHS costs a lot of money, the UK spends well below the average European per capita healthcare spending. Healthcare may cost a lot here, but it costs more in France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, and most certainly the USA.
The goalposts will keep moving. Maybe self-inflicted illnesses will be next. Treatments for drug addiction, smoking-related illnesses, alcohol-related illnesses, obesity-related illnesses. Perhaps we'll be encouraged to change our diets instead of being offered heart surgery (the media might even persuade us that this is our idea!). Contraception, STD treatments, anti-retroviral drugs. Expensive cancer treatments when cheaper, less effective treatments might work. High quality, long-lasting hip prostheses when cheaper ones are usually okay. Residential care for the elderly, when their families can afford private care. And these things are already starting to happen.
And the Tories will say that they are doing this to SAVE the NHS.
Before long, people will realise that it's actually a good idea to have private health insurance, and then when they need something that the NHS offers, they'll go privately instead because a gulf will have emerged in the quality of care available.
And then, all that the NHS will provide is emergency treatment for the very poorest in society - which is basically the American model.
And according to the Commonwealth Fund, the UK beats the USA in 11 out of 12 categories when healthcare is examined. And just look at the difference in cost.http://www.commonwealthfund.org/publica ... -countries