Friday, December 23, 2011

The shock doctrine in Christchurch

So, after two earthquakes and a year of struggle, Christchurch residents get to have more misery inflicted upon them, in the form of the privatisation of their hospitals:

Doctors are accusing the Government of starting the privatisation of health services, with a suggestion the private sector could help pay the $600 million cost of rebuilding Christchurch's public hospitals.

The Government is looking at the proposal, which includes allowing private investors to build and manage hospital buildings.

Tony Ryall says that this has "worked well overseas". In fact its been a complete disaster, with health authorities forced to cut services, close wards, sack staff and impose charges in order to pay the inflated fees of the (government-mandated) private providers. And its a bad deal financially: a UK National Audit Office study has found that PPPs there have not been value for money, and have resulted in the government paying £262bn so far for assets worth only £55bn (and that's so far; there are still 37 years to go on the contracts). But it funnels government money into the pockets of donors and cronies, which Ryall would probably consider success.

As for doing it in Christchurch, this is pure shock doctrine: take a disaster, and use it to ram through unpopular "reforms" which no-one would ever vote for if given the choice. If the people of Christchurch don't want their health system turned into a price-gouging "profit centre" for foreign parasites, they need to stand up against this. And if we don't want similar treatment to be inflicted on us eventually, we need to support them. This is just a foot in the door to the mass privatisation of public services, and the government abandoning its key role in the health sector to private enterprise. If you value your health, you need to help stop it.