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The Dirty War on the National Health Service

John Pilger reveals how privatization has gradually infected the UK's NHS, threatening the world's first universal public health service and the exemplary values of its constitution.

A printer-friendly version of this page 106 minutes
SDH Captioned>>

Directed by John Pilger
Produced by John Pilger
Writer: John Pilger
Editor: Joe Frost
Director of Photography: Owen Scurfield
Assistant Producer: Emily Keen
Executive Producer: Christopher Hird
Hosted by John Pilger
A Dartmouth Films Production

"Brilliant...A must-see for students, patients, and health professionals." Dr. Ray Moynihan, Asst Prof, IEBH, Bond University
Britain's National Health Service, the NHS, was the world's first universal public health service. Designed to give millions of people "freedom from fear" following World War II, the NHS today is under threat of being sold off and converted to a free market model inspired by America's disastrous health insurance system, which results in the unnecessary death every year of an estimated 45,000 people.

Filmed in Britain and the United States just prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, this timely and compelling documentary by BAFTA and Emmy award-winning journalist John Pilger reveals what may be the last battle to preserve the most fundamental human right of all.

Values of the NHS Constitution

  • Working together for patients. Patients come first in everything we do.
  • Respect and dignity
  • Commitment to quality of care
  • Compassion
  • Improving lives
  • Everyone counts

Other films by John Pilger: The Coming War on China, Utopia, The War You Don't See, The War on Democracy, Breaking the Silence, Stealing a Nation, New Rulers of the World, Palestine is Still the Issue, Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq, Inside Burma, and the four films in the Documentaries that Changed the World series: The Quiet Mutiny, Death of a Nation, Year Zero: The Silent Death of Cambodia, and Do You Remember Vietnam?.

Grade Level: 10 - 12, College, Adults
US Release Date: 2022     Copyright Date: 2019
DVD ISBN: 1-948745-75-5

"A brilliant, compelling, enraging, and hopeful film. John Pilger's documentary reminds us that the threat to universal public health systems like the NHS in the UK is a threat to civilization itself. In The Dirty War on the NHS we learn about the sordid scandals resulting from privatization of healthcare, and we're reminded of the horror of market-based systems like those in the US. A must-see for students, patients, and health professionals, this documentary will inspire people everywhere to fight for and protect health systems based on fairness, solidarity and compassion - based on the needs of people, not profits."
Dr. Ray Moynihan, Assistant Professor, Institute for Evidence-Based Healthcare, Bond University, Co-author, Selling Sickness: How the World's Biggest Pharmaceutical Companies Are Turning Us All Into Patients

"Pilger makes a persuasive and passionate case that the secret war on the NHS will create more poverty and homelessness, a dishonest media spectacle of squalor and chaos that will in turn be used for specious arguments in favor of 'reform'...A fierce, necessary film."
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

"More than once, the accused decline to take part in this alarming documentary, and those brave enough, including an NHS reform lobbyist well-armed with spin, are no match for Pilger and his bare facts. Citing America's health system, and case studies in his homeland, Pilger sounds a loud warning about the human cost of privatization. 4 stars."
Bridget McManus, Sydney Morning Herald

"For too long, people have been left in the dark about the realities of the systems that are supposedly protecting their health and wellbeing. This film shines a bright light on the dark side of health care in the United States and reveals all that could be lost, and is being lost, in the United Kingdom. While this film is essential viewing for those in the UK and the US, it should also be seen by residents in countries around the world and should be required viewing for anyone involved with the provision, regulation, financing, education, or use of health care services."
Jaime King, Chair in Health Law, University of Auckland, Co-author, Health Law: Cases, Materials, and Problems

"This is an engaging and provocative documentary. 'They are trying to make the NHS look like health care in America' -- that is something to be feared. A growing segment of our population 'has health insurance,' but it is often described as 'skinny health insurance' -- Emaciated might be a better word_A compelling quotation was from the nurse who was shocked by what Circle Holdings was doing to Hitchingbrook Hospital. She said, 'The government needs to believe in the NHS.' That provokes the follow-up question, 'Why does the government have difficulty believing in the NHS? Do they really expect the NHS to be a profit-center?"
Leonard Fleck, Professor, Center for Bioethics and Social Justice, Michigan State University, Author, Just Caring: Health Care Rationing and Democratic Deliberation

"The threat our most cherished of institutions faces is laid bare in a timely and thoroughly researched documentary...Filmed in the UK and the United States, Pilger shows why we must fight, fight, fight to save our NHS - and see off the racketeers who don't care what happens to our healthcare as long as their bank balances get even fatter."
Dan Carrier, Camden New Journal

"The NHS many of us take for granted appears to be on life support and Pilger's documentary produces some troubling evidence...4 stars."
Steven Sheehan, Letterboxd

"A passionate appeal to working people to oppose the decades-long, covert assault on the National Health Service (NHS)...This deeply moving film should be seen by everyone...It points to the better world that would be made under a system where the goods and services so essential to humanity are produced based on social need, not profit, and made available to all."
Jean Shaoul, World Socialist Web Site

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... more Reviews

"Revelatory...An unrelenting and often heartbreaking look into the corporatization of British nationalized healthcare, testing the proposal that 'Markets will improve healthcare'...This work is an engrossing and timely examination, striking a distinct balance between the high-level issues affecting policy and system structure, and the personal level of patients and their families being marginalized...Recommended."
Michael J. Coffta, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Educational Media Reviews Online

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