Post Office scandal has lessons for NHS

Lowdown readers will have seen the widespread outrage about the latest revelations around Horizon and the Post Office, but many who have campaigned against privatisation and outsourcing won’t be too surprised.

This is an opportunity to once again look at the issue and also to do so in the context of our NHS and what is emerging as the likely approach of a Labour government taking over the total mess in 2024.

Labour has said unequivocally that it will retain the NHS model of universal, comprehensive, free and tax funded. However it also sees a continuing role for private for-profit providers – even while it also signals the intention to expand NHS capacity to reduce dependency on non NHS providers, and to end the ludicrous Lansley regime of compulsory competitive tendering.

(It is not clear about how far Labour will go in rolling back the almost totally privatised provision of social care, but some signs are hopeful. The immediate priority will be on step changes to workforce terms and conditions through sectoral collective bargaining and that will have major implications.)

Back at the Post Office, the fact that the scandal had its roots in privatisation has to be broadcast loud and clear. It appears obvious now that the Post Office, pretending to be a business (having been privatised), was very naïve in its contracting with the main IT supplier. A vast new system largely went in based on trust – with far too little actual user testing, wholly inadequate training and support.

Full story in The Lowdown, 12 January 2024

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