The article shows that the protection of the NHS, "defend the NHS" is the protection and defence of a body of the state from its patients, from "foreigners" and from its own workers, while the latter are placed in an invidious position that demands the defence of the working class. Sick patients are nothing other than a commodity and, as the article says, we've all got used to longer waits and deteriorating services over decades. In general lines with capitalism, hospitals have become just-in-time health factories doing the very minimum they can get away with.
Last week more and more care home representatives "came out" and said that they bullied or coerced into taking non-tested or even suspected Covid-19 patients who had been removed from hospitals. One care home owner told the Independent that he was told by paramedics that he had to follow NHS guidelines and take the patients. In order to get its staff to follow its edicts, NHS bosses, like bosses in any large corporation, know that a little intimidation goes a long way - and there's been more than a little intimidation of workers in the NHS recently as disciplinary procedures are invoked and warnings given. We've also seen how whistleblowers are hunted down and shamed. Just a dressing down in front of a management team can often do the trick of intimidating a whole hospital where the unfortunate worker is shamed by not being a "team player", for "rocking the boat in these difficult times" and so on. It's a humiliating experience for the individual spreading the message widely and is part of the ongoing "moral blackmail" that the article mentions being used against workers in health. "Defend the NHS" is an example of this moral blackmail used against the population as a whole for the defence of this capitalist institution. It's not "angels" and "heroes" making up NHS directives and policy but the organisation of the capitalist state and the workers better toe the line, "or else".
We got a glimpse of this with Hillsborough where in 1989 96 people were killed and where of 45 NHS ambulances sent to the site only one went inside the grounds to treat the dead and the dying while 44 others with 2 staff in each waited outside. Tony Martin, the ambulance driver who went in defied police instructions and NHS dithering, was never called to the Taylor enquiry because of the embarrassment it would have caused the NHS. Like many of the ambulances, Martin's radio was faulty and his vehicle lacked equipment.