I started the week by considering how the wrong message had been taken from the Olympics and Paralympics. In 'If we invest in people we can win' I argued that medals had been won because support was given to the particular sports and to the individuals. If you invest in people you can produce winners. Hard work alone wasn't the key to success.
Contrary to the portrayal by Mr Cameron and his colleagues, the majority of those receiving welfare benefits are hard working and dedicated, day in and day out. But, for the poorest of them, he is cutting their support. They are winners and yet he is taking away from them the support they need to go on being winners; bread winners for their families. It really is a very cynical move by the government. They are making the poor pay the most for the mess the bankers got us into. I suspect from their divisive rhetoric, Mr Duncan Smith offers a disingenuous and divisive comparison, the assumption is that protecting middle income groups will win votes. They probably gave up long ago on attracting votes from the poorest.
Privatisation in the National Health Service is gathering pace with fears of increasing fragmentation of service provision. More than 100 private firms will be commissioned by the NHS to provide basic services including physiotherapy, dermatology, hearing aids, MRI scanning, and psychological therapy. In 'Ideologically driven reform will undermine the NHS' I argued that this would make it easier to scale down provision by the NHS itself and would open the way for charging for these key services.
As with winter fuel allowances and bus passes for the elderly it will be argued that providing these services free for everyone regardless of wealth would be unfair, thus paving the way for the breech of the fundamental principle of the NHS that health care should be free at the point of delivery. A wedge will be driven deep into the heart of the NHS and the service will be cracked open. Consumer choice will become the principle guiding commissioning and delivery. It will all seem fair to those who can afford it. Once broken the NHS will be difficult to rebuild. It took decades of public funding and commitment to create; it might take just a few years to destroy.
The impact of £20bn of cuts from the NHS budget was considered in two further articles challenging the assumption that cuts could be made without affecting front line services. In 'Don't believe it when they say front line services won't be cut' and 'NHS sleepwalking to a disaster' I questioned the assumption that the NHS and other services such as the police and social work had too many managers. All are affected by big cuts, and in all cases it is affecting the front line service.