Grantham Journal columnist: Peter Clawson

Peter Clawson.

Peter Clawson.

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Beginning of the end! How many times have we heard that phrase during the past five years?

More than enough, I’d say, especially if this government is allowed to go ahead with its politically motivated efforts to destroy the NHS as we know it in Greater Manchester and beyond.

Six billion quid sounds like a lot of public money to invest in the project, but what I would want to know if I had any say in the matter is how that compares with the previous funding for the pilot area? What was last year’s allocation and how much was it under Labour? More or less?

More or less? That’s another phrase the coalition seems to love when quoting dodgy financial and other statistics.

More or less, or near enough? Which leads me straight on to that other bone of contention in austerity-ridden Britain: privatisation of the NHS. What did they accuse Labour of? Privatisation by stealth! Well here it is in reality; except for the fact that the boot is now on the other foot.

Almost! Because I do understand that ‘bungling Ed’. No, not Milliband but the other one, backs some parts of the move.

Think privatisation Mr Balls. Won’t autonomy allow Greater Manchester to buy in its services from wherever it likes? Will the promised independently elected mayor have the power to commission whoever he or she wants to run the area’s hospitals?

Sorry. There’s that other word again, ‘commissioning’. Presumably the ‘clowns’ will still be there sending patients wherever they like for treatment.

And what about the rest of us? Will our budgets be cut to pay for Manchester’s ideological fortune? Also, if the experiment proves successful in the eyes of our oppressors, how long will it be before they achieve the ultimate aim of full privatisation or, at worst, destruction of the NHS?