Recommended reading: books and articles

Books and articles which explore in depth the issues confronting health care provision in Britain and around the world.

NHS for Sale
Myths, Lies and Deception

by Jacky Davis, John Lister and David Wrigley

Foreword by Harry Smith
Introduction by Martin McKee

'Essential reading in the battle to save the NHS before private companies bleed it dry.'  Ken Loach

'This is the most important recent book about the future of the NHS. It examines the havoc created by Andrew Lansley's costly and damaging "reforms" and George Osborne's spending cuts. It's a must read.'  Owen Jones

In 2010 David Cameron's coalition government discarded pre-election promises about the NHS. Instead they imposed savage spending cuts and pushed through 'reforms' which put at risk the health and lives of all of us. As a result the NHS is now in crisis.

NHS for Sale challenges their myths and lies, arguing that:

  • The NHS is efficient and affordable and didn't need radical reform.
  • The private sector is not cheaper or more efficient than the public sector.
  • The government is privatising the NHS.
  • The NHS market is wasting billions of pounds while harming the service.
  • The coalition's Health and Social Care Act:

    Has not put GPs in the driving seat
    Has reduced patient choice
    Has reduced community control over healthcare priorities
    Has increased bureacracy and waste
This book sets out what needs to be done to protect the NHS against corporate greed, and enable future governments to meet the challenge of delivering high quality and affordable health care for all.

Dr Jacky Davis is a consultant radiologist in north London, co-chair of the NHS Consultants' Association, a member of the BMA UK Council and is a founder member of Keep our NHS Public.
Dr John Lister is the Information Director with London Health Emergency, a founder member of Keep Our NHS Public, a public speaker, journalist, and the author of books on the NHS;
Dr David Wrigley is a GP in Carnforth, Lancashire. He speaks for Keep Our NHS Public and is a member of the BMA UK Council and BMA General Practitioners' Committee.

Click here for further details

Price to KONP supporters: £10 including p&p. To take advantage of this offer, send cheque or postal order for £10 to: Flat 11, Galileo Apartments, 48 Featherstone Street, London EC1Y 8RT

or order online with Paypal: 

Special Offer: 'NHS For Sale' and 'NHS SOS' (see below) can be bought together for £15 including p&p.

Order online with Paypal: 


How the NHS Was Betrayed – and How We Can Save It

edited by Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis

The Coalition Government passed into law an unprecedented assault on the NHS. Doctors, unions, the media, even politicians who claimed to be stalwart defenders failed to protect it. Now the effect of those devastating reforms are beginning to be felt by patients – but we can still save our country’s most valued institution if we take lessons from this terrible betrayal and act on them.

Contributors to this eye-opening dissection include Dr Jacky Davis, Oliver Huitson, Dr John Lister, Stewart Player, Prof. Allyson Pollock, David Price, Prof. Raymond Tallis, Dr Charles West and Dr David Wrigley.

Proceeds from the profits of this book will go to Keep Our NHS Public.

This book is published by One World

Special Offer: Special price to KONP members of £8 plus £3 p&p. To take advantage of this offer, send cheque or postal order for £11 to:
Flat 11, Galileo Apartments, 48 Featherstone Street, London EC1Y 8RT

or order online with Paypal: 

The Price of Experience
Writings on Living with Cancer

by Mike Marqusee

Writer and political activist Mike Marqusee was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in the summer of 2007. At first, disinclined to share his misery with others, he was reluctant to write about his illness. But he then came to realize that doing so provided a precious continuity with his life as a writer before contracting the disease, and a way of reaching out to a wider world that the illness made physically less accessible. Writing allowed him to address what he saw as a variety of insidious platitudes that surround cancer, often connected to the individualistic idea that the sufferer must be brave in battling the disease, with the inevitable corollary that those who succumb have, in some measure, brought it on themselves.

And so Marqusee begins to write about his illness. Not just his own symptoms and feelings, but the responses of friends to the news that he is ill and the way these reflect broader social attitudes towards the sick. He describes the political struggles occurring in St Bartholomew's, the London hospital that cares for him, and the crisis in Britain's National Health Service (NHS) more generally, at a time of harrowing cutbacks. Big Pharma, whose drugs keep Marqusee alive but are sold to the NHS at prices reflecting the power and greed of a ruthless extortionist, is the subject for particularly astringent scrutiny.

The observations about cancer in these pages are never trite or sentimental. They are acute, moving, impassioned and political. And they convey important, shared truths, both personal and social, about an illness that will affect one in three people in the course of their lives.

This book is published by OR Books

Read a review of this book by Sarbjit Johal

Health Policy Reform:
Global Health vs. Private Profit

by John Lister

Much has changed since John Lister's first book was published, but the pressure for the introduction of market-based approaches has remained undiminished.

Now, in a revised and restructured analysis, Health Policy Reform: Global Health versus Private Profit, John Lister brings his critique of health policy up-to-date. He continues to question whether the major 'reforms' which have been, and are still being, introduced are driven primarily by the health needs of the wider population or, in fact, by the financial and political concerns of governments and global institutions. The global economic recession at the end of the first decade of this century adds even more urgency to the need to understand the implications of these trends.

This book is available from the publishers Libri Publishing

ISBN 978 1 907471 78 0

The Plot Against the NHS

by Colin Leys and Stewart Player

What will Mr Lansley's new health care market mean for patients? Is there really no alternative? Do the coalition government's plans for the NHS really mean a big change of policy? Or do they just bring into the open what New Labour was already doing? This book shows what has really been going on.

The plot: for ten years a 'policy community' around the Department of Health has schemed to replace the NHS. They want a US-style healthcare market coming in by the back door. Why tell us, or parliament?

The players: the insiders - the 'policy community', corporate heavies, management consultants, think-tankers, freelancers and hired hands, including some academics and doctors. They can use the 'revolving door': company envoys can get jobs in the Department of Health, and ex-ministers and officials can get well-paid jobs in the private sector.

The book is published by Merlin Press

ISBN 978-0-85036-679-2

Special Offer: Special price to KONP members of £10 inc p&p. To take advantage of this offer, send cheque or postal order to: Flat 11, Galileo Apartments, 48 Featherstone Street, London EC1Y 8RT

or order online with Paypal: 

Morbid Symptoms: Health Under Capitalism

Edited by Leo Panitch and Colin Leys

A survey of the political economy of health.

Morbid Symptoms focuses on the economic, social and political determinants of health under global capitalism, and on health care as an object of struggle between commercial forces seeking to make it into a field of profit, and popular forces fighting to keep it - or make it - a public service with equal access for all.

Contributors survey structures of power and forces for change in national health care systems - from the UK, Germany and the USA to India, China, Sub-Saharan Africa and Cuba. They examine the impact of neo-liberal hegemony on the health industry, the WTO and the WHO; they consider key issues of international health policy.

The book is published by Merlin Press

ISBN 978 0 850366 92 1

The NHS After 60 - For patients or profits?

by John Lister

This new critical history of the National Health Service is published to mark the 60th anniversary of our most popular and universal public service in July 2008.

Author John Lister has been a prominent and outspoken health campaigner, as Information Director of London Health Emergency, for over 24 years. He argues strongly that despite so-called "reforms" that have begun to fragment and privatise sections of the NHS since 2000, there is a great deal still to defend.

Tony Benn says: "This is a very significant book, meticulously researched, and intensely readable. It warns us all about what is on the agenda - the steady privatisation of the National Health Service.
"Everyone should read this book, and we must get together to ensure that the privatisation it warns of does not happen."

Dr Julian Tudor Hart says: "John Lister has written a book which everyone interested or active in health care needs to read. He has unrivalled experience of campaigning to defend the NHS as a public service economy, originally lifted out of the marketplace, but ever since 1979, steadily opened by governments toward unrestrained pursuit of profit by any company that can find a promising business opportunity.
"There should be a world of difference between the NHS economy serving public need, and the business economy serving private greed. This book will help you to re-establish that difference.

The book is published by Libri Publishing, standard price £25.
ISBN 978 1 904750 30 7

Order online from Libri Publishing

Confuse & Conceal - The NHS and Independent Sector Treatment Centres

by Stewart Player and Colin Leys

As the 60th anniversary of the foundation of the first freely available health service approaches, the threat to the NHS as we know it is serious, and if we as a nation do not act vigorously now, will lead to irreversible damage.

Stewart Player and Colin Leys have managed to get behind the government spin about choice and the 'Patient led NHS'. The contents of the Department of Health's frequent press releases are usually reported accurately by the media but without any critical analysis or in-depth scrutiny. Using quotes from Department of Health policy documents and evidence given to the House of Commons Health Committee (which looked at ISTCs in 2006) and supplemented by Freedom of Information requests, the authors make a convincing case for a conspiracy to change the NHS irrevocably.

Confuse & Conceal   is published by Merlin Press

Health Policy in Europe - Contemporary dilemmas and challenges

Edited by Alexis Benos, Hans Ulrich Deppe and John Lister

This book is an effort to describe and critically analyse the recent experience of various European countries and discuss the dilemmas and challenges that confront health policy and policy-makers in this period of time and geopolitical setting, providing concrete evidence from various countries.

Specific chapters address issues in Germany, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Croatia, the Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Turkey, and Palestine, with an additional comparative study of the situation in the market- dominated health care system in the United States.

It is produced as an aftermath of the productive exchanges during the XIV Conference of the International Association of Health Policy in Europe (IAHPE), held in Thessaloniki in May 2005, with papers subsequently edited through a peer review process.

Published by the International Association of Health Policy Europe (IAHPE)

NHS plc - The Privatisation of Our Health Care

by Allyson M Pollock

An analysis of the transition from universal, publicly funded health care to New Labour's application of market principles: a national institution reaching crisis point and a key lesson for those concerned with health care everywhere.

Universal, comprehensive health care, equally available to all and disconnected from income and the ability to pay, was the goal of the founders of the National Health Service. This book, by one of the NHS's most eloquent and passionate defenders, tells the story of how that ideal has been progressively eroded, and how the clock is being turned back to pre-NHS days, when health care was a commodity, fully available only to those with money.

NHS plc  is published by Verso.