Saturday, March 24, 2012

nhs bill… what’s the point? why bother?

Moira+I were up in Lancashire with Alice+Dave+family when the Government’s NHS Bill was passed and I’m only just coming to terms with the depressing implications.
At the end of the Tory Party Conference in 2006, Cameron insisted that the NHS was safe in his hands. "Tony Blair explained his priorities in three words: education, education, education… I can do it in three letters: NHS." He emphasised that change would be "driven by the wishes and needs of NHS professionals and patients". In January 2010, Cameron launched the Conservative health manifesto with his eye-catching poster promising “we will cut the deficit and not the NHS”.
In the event, of course, and despite passionate opposition from the vast majority of health professionals and the public, the Government steamrollered its political ideology and the Bill will become law early next week. Even the government must admit that, after more than 1,000 amendments, the Bill is now little more than a dog’s dinner – unfortunately, the dog’s dinner USED to be the NHS.
In January 2011, the health select committee concluded: “the white paper proposes a disruptive reorganisation of the institutional structure of the NHS which was subject to little prior discussion and not foreshadowed in the coalition programme”.
Most nurses, doctors and patients now understand only too well what the government is doing with the NHS. It’s broken its promise on reorganisation - breaking up area-based health service planning and replacing it with closed-door decision making by consortia, potentially managed day-to-day by private companies. Rather than a single body responsible for population health and commissioning the whole pathway of services for an area, NHS planning will be fragmented and chaotic. There are particular fears for specialist services, with charities and others voicing concerns about a loss of focus and a return of postcode lotteries.
Yesterday’s “Church Times” (gosh, how well-read am I?!) referred to a letter sent last week by a number of Churches in the north of England to the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Health Secretary, setting out their concerns about the impact of the Bill on deprived neighbourhoods in the north: “We wish to state that we have no confidence in market forces as they are applied to health care in the long term because of the inevitable con¬flict between self-interest and the care of other people, and between shareholder expectations and patient needs”. I can only echo such views (but rather more nationwide).
My fear is that the NHS Bill will turn the health service into a market like the privatised gas, water or telecoms utilities – to my mind, anything that allows profit to be a motive in health-care provision will be instinctively distrusted.
A lot of people (me included) made a LOT of noise, wrote letters, signed petitions, pestered their MP about the proposed NHS Bill. Virtually all the professional health bodies put forward detailed objections. To what end? Cameron+his buddies have ended up inflicting their conservative ideology on OUR health service because they, as politicians, (obviously) know so much more about running a health service than the professionals.
It’s all very, very depressing.
Photo: Many thanks to David Stuart (via facebook) for the pic!

No comments: