THE END OF THE NHS AS WE KNOW IT?
The Tory-led Government’s Health and Social Care Bill is a major threat to our National Health Service. It will cause serious problems; fragmenting health care, causing service instability and creating more inequality.
Improvements like more clinical involvement and a better voice for patients can be achieved without the massive upheaval the Bill will cause. UNISON believes the Bill should be dropped.
Many organisations agree that the Bill must be dropped: the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Midwives and the BMA all now oppose the Bill. Even the Royal Colleges of GPs, whose members will be at the forefront of reform, called for the Bill to be scrapped on 3 February.
A joint editorial in the British Medical Journal, Health Service Journal and Nursing Times stated that the upheaval has “destabilised and damaged one of this country’s greatest achievements: a system that embodies social justice and has delivered widespread patient satisfaction, public support, and value for money”.
UNISON along with others is concerned that:
The maximum amount of money each hospital can earn from private patients needs to be limited. This would ensure ordinary NHS patients are not pushed to the back of the queue for treatment. The Bill allows hospitals to make nearly half of its income from private patients. Currently, the vast majority of hospitals earn 2% this way. More private patients mean fewer NHS patients: the poor who are unable to pay will get pushed to the back of an increasingly long queue. The NHS founding principle that access should be based on need not ability to pay is under threat.
Almost a third of the Bill’s clauses are devoted to setting up the full-blooded market system. Changes to the Bill so services are “provided in an integrated way” lack definition or enforcement powers, yet there is a whole chapter devoted to the Competition Commission in enforcing competition. The most efficient and effective healthcare systems are based on co-operation and collaboration, not competition. Competition law should not be the driving force in the NHS.
The uncertainty and anxiety experienced by thousands of vulnerable people and their families following the collapse of care home operator Southern Cross highlighted the dangers of essential public services being transferred away from the public sector with insufficient safeguards. Similarly, the recent PIP breast implant scandal provides a worrying glimpse into a future where less accountable private providers are permitted a much greater share of healthcare delivery.
There are many other aspects of the Bill that cause for concern. Not least that the proposed system increases bureaucracy. It replaces three levels of management (DH, SHA, PCT) with seven; (DH, NCB, 4 Clustered SHA, 50 Commissioning Support groups, 300-ish CCGs, Clinical Senates and HealthWatch.)
What you can do now, before it’s too late…
- Contact your MP and tell them how worried you are about the Bill.
- Write letters to your local paper about your concerns for the future of the NHS
- Bring friends and family to the Rally for the NHS, Albert Square, Manchester on Saturday 3 March at 11am
- Speakers confirmed now include:
- Andy Burnham Shadow Secretary of State for Health
- Tony Lloyd MP
- Debbie Turner Chair of North West Regional Health Care Committee
- Dr Kailash Chand GP
- Christopher Bisson, actor who plays Jai in Emmerdale, and roles in Coronation Street, Shameless and the film East is East.
- Musical Entertainment from the Robin Sunflower Band