The NHS is need of change.
There is no doubt to this fact and I am sure this would gain cross party support in the House of Commons. There is seemingly unmanageable bureaucracy at all levels, the mistakes Dr’s, nurses et al (they are only human) make are increasingly in the spot light, partly due to our increasingly prevalent “compensation culture”, we have the so called “post code lottery” and waiting lists seem to be ever increasing. Money is sluiced away.
The NHS is in need of a shake up, of this there is no doubt.
But I still love the NHS. It’s like a favourite old aunt, loveable, caring, always there to put her arms around you, but with a bad hip and ever so slightly incontinent.
I, like many people in this country have relied upon the NHS. It has arguably saved my life, it has certainly saved the lives of my mother, father and brother. Up and down the country people say the same thing. It is the greatest invention of the last century, inspired and led from the welsh valleys, through Nye Bevan and the Tredegar Medical Aid Society. It’s founding principle was clear: A health service available to all, funded by taxation. People contributing according to their means. This model should still work today, sure we are living longer (down to improved Health Care), but our monetary wealth has increased also.
Lansley’s bill seems hell bent on destroying the NHS. Reformed to the point of destruction, deliberately broken beyond repair to pave the way for full privatisation. The bill has been rumbling around Parliament for a couple of weeks now and the sheer volume of amendments show just what a bad bill this actually is. Trumpeted as a cost saving and reforming exercise by the Government, the Health Secretary himself has admitted that it will cost £1.4bn to implement, with the National Audit Office warning of short term costs rising significantly coupled with decreased patient care.
The real elephant in the room, is of course the back door privatisation of the NHS. I have 2 issues with this. Firstly, I don’t believe that Competition is a good thing I don’t want a bargain basement service, where costs are cut to be increasingly “competitive”. I want a service that will work and give me the best possible care. If a private company can make a profit out of the NHS, why can’t the Government make a profit to reinvest rather that sit in shareholders pockets? Although, this bill does not fully introduce “privatisation” it is ultimately the end game. If in doubt please read this article published in the BMJ (courtesy of Dr Ben Goldacre).
Secondly, privatisation of the NHS will mean that health care provision will be available only for those who can afford it. According to Official Reports the gap between rich and poor in this country is ever increasing (a problem affecting both this and the previous Governments). The current inflation rate and low wages further exacerbates this problem, adding the cost of health insurance to the monthly bill of a low income family will push people further into poverty. A lot has been said about the American model of health care, so I’m not going to cover it here in detail, but I would urge you to watch Michael Moore’s film “Sicko”. Although, I’m not a huge fan of Moore this film alone provides justification for a National Health Service.
The Lib Dem’s have an opportunity this weekend to deliver a knock out blow to this legislation. It is their party conference and there are 2 motions re: the NHS bill. One by Dame Shirley Williams to encourage support of the Bill, the other calls for the Lib Dems to scrap it. They have the power to defeat this bill, Labour will oppose the bill en masse meaning the Tories need the Lib Dems to pass this bill, if there is a revolt by the party we will see the end of this bill. I urge the Lib Dem conference to support the second motion, to listen to the views of the Health Professionals - The Royal College of GP’s, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Nursing, the Faculty of Public Health - they all believe that patient care will suffer at the hands of this bill. One of the thing we have heard the Health Minister talk about is “empowering doctors” and “handing power back”, well how about taking that on board and listening to them as they shout at him, “we do not want this Bill.”
The NHS needs reform, this Bill will destroy it, and we will be left with a flash Aunt, conspicuous by her absence gallivanting around the world without time for us, maybe receiving the odd email. I don’t want that. I to be cwtched by my old aunt with her shiny, new hip replacement and to come away slightly damp.