Friday, 1 March 2013

Privatising Life Saving Services - Right or Wrong?

Last night hubby and I watched a really interesting program on BBC2 called "The Sea King. Britain's Flying Past"

It was all about the history of the Sea King and told the story of some dramatic rescues that the Sea King has been involved in over the years, stories where without the Sea King people would have lost their lives!

At the end of the program I was shocked to learn that the Government is privatising Britain's Search and Rescue operations and that instead of being run by the RAF, Navy and Coastguard as they are now, they will be run by private companies from 2016.

This year the Royal Navy celebrates it's 60th year of Search and Rescue in the UK and last year the RAF celebrated their 70th year. Both services have fantastic histories and are packed full of life-saving stories. But the days of the distinctive and loved grey and navy helicopters of the Navy and the yellow RAF ones (like the one Prince William flies) are numbered. 

This spring the Department for Transport is due to award a 10 year, £3 billion contract to a private company or companies to run Search and Rescue services in the UK. This means that from 2016, a service that both the RAF and Navy are rightly proud of will go private. 

But what will this mean to you and I? Will we have to pay to be rescued? What if we can't afford to be rescued? What will happen then?

When I mentioned this on my private facebook last night, a friend from America told me that this is how the Search and Rescue services work already in the US. I asked her how it works and this is what she told me
"If you are rescued then you are sent a bill. Either your insurance pays for it or if you were out hiking or something, then your fee for your hiking permit would cover it. It is super expensive" She also knows what she is talking about as she's a senior account manager at a private insurance brokerage.

Of course we have the NHS is Britain, which means unlike the Americans, we don't have health insurance. So what will happen then? Will we have to start buying personal insurance for ourselves and our children to pay for our rescue should the need arise? More money that we'll have to find when so many in Britain are below the poverty line.

Look at the state of the railways! They were privatised by the Conservatives last time they were in power under Margaret Thatcher. Can you honestly look at our railways and say privatisation was a success! All those companies care about is profit, which means they will charge more for services, but then fail to spend to upgrade them when necessary and when they do need to, prices will rise so that we pay for the upgrades and their profits don't go down. Look at energy companies who were also privatised. Look at the huge profits they are making each year whilst our prices for energy rise! Even when the price of oil goes down, we never see it passed on to ourselves!

What about other Search and Rescue teams? How will they be affected? When April Jones went missing from Machynlleth, Search and Rescue teams from all over the country came to help find her and the search is estimated to  have cost millions. Even now, 5 months after she went missing, Search and Rescue teams are still searching for her and have vowed that they will not stop until she is found. But what will happen under privatisation  How long before they decide the search is costing them too much and one 5yr old girl isn't worth the cost of the search! That 5yr old could be your 5yr old and how would you feel if the search was called off because of the cost!

Today I learnt that the government aren't just happy with privatising our Search and Rescue operations. Oh no, they've decided to meddle in another life saving service. This time it is the Fire Brigade which is under threat!

How often do we relay on the fire service, not just for rescuing us from fires, but from car accident's as well. What are they going to do if your house is going up in flames around you, refuse to rescue you until you pay! Now whilst your house or car insurance could cover the cost of your being rescued, again insurance companies are in business to make money and insurance is already very expensive. You can bet that they won't take a reduction in their profits to cover the cost. Oh no, they'll pass the charges on to you which means your insurance premiums could double! People are already doing without house insurance to save money and some people are even driving illegally without car insurance because they can't afford it so the amount of uninsured drivers on the road will increase.

The Fire Brigade Union are also against the privatisation of the Fire Service and they have started an online petition to appeal against it. So please, if you agree with anything I have said above, please go and sign it. The more signatures the petition gains, the more seriously it will be taken! You can sign it here

What kind of Britain are we going to leave for our children? One which cares more about profit and money than saving people's lives and qyou have to pay to be rescued. I for one don't want to see that kind of Britain for my children! Saving lives should be a priority, not money!

My granddad had a saying. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it!" So why are the government trying to "fix" something that isn't broken? I understand that they need to save money, but this is not the way and in the long run it could cripple Britain worse than Britain already is! 

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