There have been a number of letters about the NHS and the government’s reform bill recently I think almost everyone wants an NHS that is free and fair, not a privatised system. I think we’d also like to hear the truth about what this bill will mean. There is no mandate or authority to break up and leave behind a safety net for the poor and a mixture of private and public for everyone else.
The truth is this bill will cost a lot. Estimates of the cost range from the government’s £1.3 billion to Labour’s £3.5 billion, but most independent analysts estimate at least £2 billion. £1 billion is being spent on redundancy for managers, only for many to be rehired as consultants!
The bill will create more bureaucracy not less. The NHS bill replaces three levels of management with seven (Department of Health, NHS Commissioning Board, Strategic Health Authority clusters, Commissioning Support Organisations, Clinical Commissioning Groups, Clinical Senates, HealthWatch), and creates two unaccountable super-quangos (Monitor and the NHS Board).
The bill and the government’s cuts to funding mean waiting times will grow – unless you go private The bill allows hospitals to fill up to half of their beds with private patients, and waters down guarantees on NHS waiting times. NHS patients will increasingly find themselves at the back of the queue, even for their own local hospital.
Care will continue to depend on a postcode lottery. It won’t improve anything. In some areas, people may have to go private to get services available for free elsewhere. Scotland and Wales, which are not covered by the bill, will continue to provide services denied to patients in England.
In the end private companies, not GPs, will be in control. The bill says GPs will plan and commission healthcare. But this complex role cannot be done on the side while providing the same level of care to patients.
We expect pilots to have excellent flying skills – not to design and purchase their own planes. In fact leaked papers show the government expects private companies called Commissioning Support Organisations to take over this role. CSOs will decide how care is delivered but there will be no democratic control over them.
It is a bill that needs to be opposed as it will take away a fair system and replace it with an unfair safety net system with those who can afford it going private.
Cllr Dan Sutherland (Lab)
Illingworth and Mixenden Ward