British health unions unveiled two initiatives designed to address a barrage of propaganda from US insurance companies and lobbyists who hope to scupper US President Barack Obama’s plans for public health.
Launching the ‘NHS factfile’ for sister unions in the US, health union UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘We are outraged by the gross lies and distortions being spread in the US about our NHS.
‘A universal health system, free at the point of need is something that we can all be proud of – it is a mark of a civilised, caring society,’ he said.
UNISON and Unite joined forces to launch a campaign highlighting the benefits of the NHS to the public.
A Unite spokesman said that the union was calling on NHS staff and communities to challenge the ‘sell-off and break-up of our NHS.’
The latest twist in a war of words that is assuming international incident proportions saw the reactionary US Conservatives for Patients Rights group heavily criticised for a documentary about the British health-care system featuring NHS patients.
Several people who appeared in the broadcast complained that their views had been ‘misrepresented’ in order to discredit the concept of universal health care.
Further fuel was added to the fire when Tory MEP Daniel Hannan appeared on Fox News to tell US viewers that he ‘wouldn’t wish the NHS on anyone.’
Mr Hannan went on to compare the NHS with being a relic of a time of ‘rationing’ and part of a ‘benign’ state.
Embarrassed Conservative Party leader David Cameron was forced to distance himself from the ‘eccentric’ views of Mr Hannan, insisting that the NHS was his party’s ‘number one mission.’
Labour has launched a ‘We love the NHS’ campaign in order to counteract the propaganda offensive from free-market think tanks and right-wing politicians.
However, this prompted left MPs unions and campaigners to urge the government to end all private-sector involvement in the NHS in order to improve services for patients.
Labour Representation Committee chairman John McDonnell MP said he found it ‘ironic’ that Prime Minister Gordon Brown was ‘twitters and tweets’ in defence of the NHS when private-sector involvement was at an all-time high.
‘As chancellor and prime minister, Mr Brown has undertaken the largest-scale privatisation of health care since the NHS was founded,’ said Mr McDonnell.
Commenting on the prospects for the NHS under a Conservative government, Mr McDonnell added: ‘The US model of health care demonstrates what the Tories will do if they get elected, despite Cameron’s assurances.
‘Big business will take over on the basis of a private insurance system and millions will lose the right to health care.’
Campaign group Health Emergency spokesman Geoff Martin condemned the ‘unreconstructed free-market fruit cakes’ leading the charge against socialised medicine.
‘Rather than Gordon Brown twittering, he could send out a real message by slinging United Health Care, who are one of the private health corporations, out of the NHS,’ he said.