Wednesday, 2 March 2011

NHS Privatisation....

Just after the New Year, at PMQs, Ed Miliband asked David Cameron about the 18 week waiting time for an operation within the NHS in England. Cameron could not give figures because, as the Tories promised, the target had been dropped. "Targets are evil and we don't need them" being the libertarian Tory mantra. The problem being, if there's no target, no commitment can be made. The patient is left at the mercy of the system, and if it delivers, well and good. If it doesn't deliver, there is no comeback.

Today, amid warnings that patients could have to wait longer for treatment, the head of the NHS in England, Sir David Nicholson, has written to all staff asking for "vigilence" in delivering the commitment. It seems, as was predictable, the moment the Tory Government removed the need to report on the target, it was quietly ignored by Health Trusts.

So if you are waiting for an operation and you think it will be delivered within a stated time, think again. You no longer have any guarantee that it will be.

An even more disturbing story is in the Guardian. To quote;
"...The government's health service reforms could lead to GP practices being partially floated on the stock market, it has emerged...... GP consortiums will begin to control £80bn of NHS funds to commission healthcare from 2013.... in documents obtained by Channel 4 News and passed to the Guardian, one private health firm, IHP, proposes that the commissioning budget for patients be handed over to a private company in which family doctors would own a 20% stake..."

This goes far beyond any "marketisation" of services or purchasing: it is the outright privatisation of NHS services. If you GP's loyalty is to the stock market, how can he also answer to you?

It has been much commented on that Andrew Lansley's "reforms" to the NHS were not in the Tory manifesto nor in the coalition agreement. In fact the promise was that there would be "no top down reorganisation" of the Health Service.

So there you have it: when the Tories carry out their promises, the NHS suffers and when they do something that was never in their manifesto and for which they have no mandate, the NHS suffers.

And when the NHS suffers, the public suffers, sometimes literally.

As ever: we expect this level of lies and treachery from the Conservatives, but where are the Lib dems in all of this?  Why are they silent? Why do they vote for these real cuts to the National Health service, and where is their conscience?

ps. EtonMess has a revealing graph showing that the NHS is good value for money and performs well against international competition and a reasonable cost.

The worst Health Service is the most privatised, i.e. the USA.


  1. I have a good friend who is a specialist foot surgeon.

    Recently we had reason to be discussing the Jubilee hospital in Clydebank where he told me that quite often patients of his or his colleagues are tranferred to in order that they can have an operation, at high cost, simply to meet the target waiting time - set by some beaurocrat.

    More often than not he or his colleagues will then see the same patient in the following year in order to perform a corrective procedure on the 'botch' job performed by the non-specialist foot surgeon.

    The meeting of that target waiting time did not consider the patients actual needs, but overtook them in terms of priority.

    The meeting of the target waiting time satisfied the beaurocrat, but not the patient nor the doctor.

    If waiting times were used as a metric for how underresourced the NHS was rather than a stick to beat patients and doctors with, they might be a worthy tool - as things stand I hae ma doots!

  2. They are just carrying on Labour's privatisation policy, red or blue both sides of the same coin.

  3. What is so disingenuous about the government's position to that they frame a demographic issue of rising health care costs as particular to a state-run health system.

    It's not. In fact, as independent studies have proveb, the NHS is not just more equitable... it's also more efficient than private models of healthcare:

  4. @Jim

    There are problems with targets and how they can distort actions on the ground.

    But waiting times was a great problem in the NHS prior to 1997 and the abandonment of an 18 week commitment to deliver operations is likely to (already is according to some reports) lead to longer waiting times.

    @CH, Labour tried to create an "internal market" in the NHS with buying and selling within the NHS structure and ownership clearly in the public sector. You might not have liked it, but that's what they did.

    The Tories are attempting to create a clear external market, with any provider allowed to tender and resultant fracturing of provision, and GP practices quoted on the stock exchange with their loyalty split between their shareholders and their patients.

    Perhaps your cynicism is clouding your judgement...