If there is one thing that marks out the Labour Party and a policy that means no one is left out it is of course the NHS. We now have in charge a bunch of right wing tea party Tories determined to bring it down, remember Daniel Hannon ?
'60 year Mistake'
Well on Labour List HERE Richard Blogger wrote this fantastic piece on the effect the tory changes will have on the NHS and we should all listen and very carefully. Once it is gone that it is the private sector looking for profits will be making sure they cherry pick the cases, have complicated awkward problems like Mental health, forget it !
Be very afraid
These new announcements are truly dangerous. There are several issues that Cameron did not mention but will become apparent when the white paper is published
- Granular It is not just a case of your GP sending you to a private hospital rather than an NHS hospital. The proposal is that a private company can "contest" the right for a hospital to provide a service, and Competition Law will be used to allow them to provide it. So a private company can look at your local hospital, see that there are lots of people having cataract operations and say "we want to do that". Then they will be allowed to take over that service in that hospital. That's right, the private company will be able to use the hospital's theatres. The private company will use an NHS facility and make a profit from it for their shareholders.
An MRI machine costs over a million pounds. NHS hospitals have to scrimp and save to get one (I know, my local hospital has just bought one). Yet a private company will be able to use Competition Law to get access to it. Shameful.
- Fixed proportion The October Spending Review said that the Public Services white paper will specify fixed proportions. It will say that a mandatory proportion of public services must be provided by the private sector. Thus whatever happens there will be some services at your local hospital that will be privatised, regardless of how good that hospital is.
- Accountability All public bodies are subject to Freedom of Information requests. NHS Trusts and PCTs must hold their board meetings in public (to their shame, Labour omitted this requirement about Foundation Trusts, but they are subject to FoI). Private companies are not subject to FoI and their boards are held in secret. Social enterprises (Community Interest Companies) are not subject to FoI and their boards are held in secret. For that matter, GP consortia board meetings are not subject to FoI and their boards are held in secret. Can you see a pattern here?
- Expensive Cameron says that these changes will save money. They won't. Let me use the NHS as an example. Even with the infernal internal market administration in the NHS is still low - about 10%. Yet in private hospitals it is double that. So moving to a system when more treatment will be in the private sector with a decreasing budget means that fewer people can be treated (ie long waiting lists) or quality goes down. Lansley has admitted that there will be a 14% differential between NHS and private sector, with private hospitals getting more (the likelihood is that the NHS will be paid the same as the private sector to create the illusion of a "level playing field" and then Lansley will take 12% off the money given to NHS hospitals). The private sector is already saying that healthcare in this country is "unsustainable" without co-pay, so expect soon to have to pay in cash for part of your nominally NHS treatment.
It was obvious before the election that all of this stuff was what Cameron and Lansley were planning: you just had to pay attention. Look at my blog from 6 January 2010. (Or read the summary here) Sadly Labour were not paying attention.