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[Image: Martin Shovel.]

Even as the UK erupts in protest at the government’s neglect of the NHS, the Tory privatisation plan is working, it seems.

The crisis has created a perception that the public health service is unable to cope. Private firms can capitalise on this – and don’t forget that more private contracts are being offered up for NHS work, every day. Here’s the latest:

It’s for an ‘integrated urgent care service’ (whatever that may be), offered by Kernow CCG (in Cornwall?) and is worth nearly £50 million.

It should be remembered that private healthcare will not offer treatment for the most complicated, long-term conditions; the people who need it most. Instead, they take contracts that draw funding away from their treatment.

And the ‘crisis’ narrative gains momentum – but it lacks one major element.

The only reason there is a humanitarian crisis in the NHS is underfunding by the Conservative Party in government. They will have inflicted nearly £40 billion of cuts by 2020, and have already passed on around £20 billion of funding to private companies, much of which will be transferred to shareholders’ bank accounts as profit, rather than having anything to do with treatment of illness.

The bureaucratic cost of private involvement alone is astronomical.

Yet Theresa May tried to blame the crisis on the increase of elderly patients, in Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

In fact, decades of ward closures have led to the bed crisis. Bed-to-population ratios are worse than in some eastern European countries. Funding of the NHS, in total, is well below the EU average. But Mrs May keeps rattling on about a “strong economy” being the answer. Didn’t Philip Hammond say our economy is the strongest in the developed world, during his Autumn Statement last year? Yes, he did.

The only way the NHS can receive proper funding is the removal of private sector involvement from the National Health Service and the redirection of the funds this frees, back into healthcare.

That must be the first priority of any campaign to save the NHS.

The way to achieve it is simple: Destroy the Tory narrative.

The aging population isn’t blocking up A&E – Tory underfunding and bed closures did that.

Why isn’t the NHS properly funded, considering the Tories say we have the healthiest economy in the developed world?

If the Tories didn’t want A&E departments flooded with non-urgent patients, why did they close walk-in centres and pharmacies?

There must be no let-up, no relief for Conservative pro-privatisation mouthpieces. They must be challenged at every opportunity.

Their answers must always be challenged. If they fail to provide adequate answers, the question should be put again.

Challenge the narrative. Undermine their confidence.

Win back your health service.