Alistair Darling is seeking £5 billion spending cuts in the public sector, and he seems to have the National Health Service in sight to provide the majority of these cuts.
Despite saying that the bail out of the banks would not be at the cost of public services, Darling is pressing ahead with a programme of “cost savings”. That means the NHS must prepare for a substantial cut in planned funding from 2010.
It means cost-cutting in clinical areas, cheaper procedures, and that will mean cutting back on the safety of patients by cutting corners. It will also mean cuts in staffing as the quickest way for the parts of the health service to cut costs to meet their targets.
With the private sector seen as the model for “efficiency”, there will be a greater role for “consultants” and the rush toward “lean production methods”. All of that comes with big fees and increasing the workload of already pressed staff.
The cost of bankers’ greed may ultimately be the health of the nation – and in the first instance of the working class.