Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May clashed over the NHS in PMQs yesterday, with Jeremy Corbyn as per usual dedicating all six of his questions to one subject and trying to get an answer out of the Prime Minister over the public concerns of underfunding and privatisation of the health service. Largely the weekly event has become even more of a farce than it previously was, with one side asking questions and the other answering with rhetoric and easily publishable soundbites.

Theresa May hasn’t answered a question in a while and it puts people off of things like PMQs, which ultimately dissuades people to get involved in politics because they feel disillusioned.

Nonetheless, the NHS is an important topic and Mr Corbyn raised some important issues.

Failures over the NHS

Mr Corbyn highlighted that Virgin Healthcare were paid £1.5 billion by Surrey NHS, not for providing any service but due to their bid being turned down. He also underlined a report by The National Audit Office (NAO), the UK’s public spending watchdog, which said that the Primary Care Support England (PCSE) have failed in their plans to deliver in key areas of back-office support services that were outsourced to Capita.

The report itself goes onto to say that both NHS England and Capita fully understood the complexities and completely misjudged the scale of the risk in outsourcing these services.

The report finishes by saying that the outsourcing could have put patients at “serious risk”. After a range of administrative and back-office functions were outsourced in 2015 through the PCSE contract to Capita worth £330 million over seven years, they aimed to reduce NHS England’s costs by 35% but in May 2016 primary care providers began raising concerns over the level of care being provided.

He also went onto to mention that the Conservatives had promised 5,000 more GPs in the NHS but they have failed to deliver that with cuts and Brexit being major contributing factors as to why there are also 1000 fewer GPs than previously. He mentioned that in 2010, £4 billion of NHS services had been outsourced, then proceeded to ask how much the current figure was, not met with an answer from May, Corbyn stated that it was in fact, £9 billion.

The start of the month saw the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt walk out of the Commons as he was asked an urgent question by Labour MP Barbara Keely on Learning Disabilities Mortality Review, video below.

The problem with privatisation

There are several aspects that point to the fact that the NHS is slowly being privatised, firstly, the starvation of funding from services by the government who then hand it over to private companies. This often has a detrimental affect on the care quality and is seen to put profit over patients. Highlighting this point is Sutherland Lodge Surgery in Chelmsford, Essex, which was rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission, but soon after the government cut the Personal Medical Services funding from them by £400,000, which forced the GP partners out.

Subsequently Virgin Care took over the running of the surgery and after 18 months they have been rated as inadequate.

The Quality Care Commission stated that there was a litany of failures at the lodge that included the staff not being trained properly, medicine and equipment were being stored incorrectly, dispensing medicine that is potentially unsafe to under-18s to child and there was no assessment of individual patient needs. The problem is with Theresa May openly praising the private sectors involvement in the NHS means that there is deep ingrained ideals to put profit before people in the government.