Monday, 28 February 2011

NHS privatisation by any other name

... is still not what the public want.

Remember someone saying "I'll cut the deficit not the NHS"?  Remember a coalition agreement that said "We will stop top down reorganisation of the NHS"?

I've blogged before on this and marched against it, but it's moving up the news agenda now.  You can now sign a petition that is localised to your MP*  We know that the government can change it's mind if enough people put pressure on.

I thought that Cameron's promises on the NHS didn't sound plausible at the time but I didn't think that within months there would be a full attack on the principles that the NHS stands for. 

I believe that the person deciding whether or not you get treatment shouldn't be working for a profit making company.  That's not because I have something against private companies - I work for one after all - but because it makes a difference to the way you make decisions.  That's fine if you are selling software or accountancy training courses.  It's not when you are making life and death decisions about people's healthcare. 

I also believe in a system that works for the whole country - I think it's right when there's criticism of people in different areas getting different access to treatment, whether for infertility or cancer.  But these 'reforms' will also make postcode lotteries the norm, rather than the exception.

What most people are most concerned about for the NHS is funding and cuts and how that will affect the care they receive.  I'm already finding my doctors surgery now rarely offers appointments within 48 hours and statistics are showing I'm not alone, and that hospital waiting times are going up.  This restructure won't help that, and instead will cost huge amounts of money - £1.4 billion is the current estimate.

This is something that moderate Conservatives and Liberal Democrats should feel able to oppose.  It wasn't in their manifestos, it is the opposite of what was in the coalition agreement

Concerns are being raised by groups including:  The British Medical Association, The Royal College of Surgeons, The Royal College of Nursing, The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists, Unite and Unison, The Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Diabetes UK, National Voices, Rethink, The British Heart Foundation and The Stroke Association.  Oh, and David Cameron's brother-in-law (a doctor in Basingstoke).

So time to sign the petition - have I made that point yet?


* amusingly the authors of this site say "We’re just a group of internet geeks in London that cares (sic) about the NHS...This is the Big Society at work."