The NHS is one public service amongst many that are being offered to the private sector.
All this is being driven by Paul Kirby, ex-KPMG partner, now Cameron’s new Director of Strategy. This is the neo-liberal model of public sector reform of minimal government and private sector take-over, with a short term intent of reducing the deficit sufficiently to reduce taxes at the next election just when people need a bit of extra cash to pay for their private health care.
The BMA has come out emphatically against using competition.
Even the pro-marketeer GPs fear its effects. But Lansley is ideologically driven by competition, which is the lifeblood of any market system and is needed to make the any willing provider (AWP) policy work. This depends on providers competing to provide the most attractive services in terms of quality and price. More importantly it depends on patients and GPs having the information and skills to judge one provider against another. He can’t compromise on this otherwise his Bill is useless and the all the political damage will be in vain. This is what Dr Jacky Davis meant when she said the health and social care bill without competition and privatisation was like a ham sandwich without ham. This will inevitably result in more clashes with the BMA and we should expect a hardening of their position at the annual representative meeting in June.
GP led commissioning. This is a key area to highlight because it is a concept that is misunderstood in the English NHS. There is significant ignorance amongst GPs and doctors in general. The BMA wants to retain this, but in the context of the purchaser-provider split it is a disaster and is actually the major mechanism for mass privatisation.
Nick Clegg said “no to privatisation”.
This is a classic area to put pressure on the Lib Dems. This statement will come back to Clegg and we need to exploit it. Having said that I do not believe that Clegg can be trusted on the NHS, like all the parties the Lib Dems have supported greater privatisation of the NHS including the internal market. Dr Evan Harris and Dame Shirley Williams latest amendments to the health bill, whilst welcome, should have come after the White Paper last year. An apology from Dr Harris doesn’t amount to an explanation of why he didn’t speak up then.
Labour have been desultory.
They couldn’t have a wider open goal than the Tory plans for the NHS. But the brute fact that they set up the NHS for privatisation is hanging around their necks and is being used to taunt them at every opportunity. They have to have the courage to admit they were wrong if they want to get the public behind them and be an effective opposition.
The 38 degrees Save Our NHS petition has over 190,000 signatures in less than a week. This is recruiting much quicker than the forestry petition, but needs to maintain momentum.
The fight has only just kicked off. We have some momentum and we need to keep it going.
Thanks to Clive Peedell of the NHS consultants association.