The NHS is currently under threat from something called the ‘Health and Social Care Bill 2011’.
The bill will make many changes, including abolishing Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and grouping together GP groups to run their area. While we hope GPs are making decisions based on the patient, they are much more likely to be influenced by finances under the changes. I also hope my GP is spending her time reading the latest research, keeping up to date with training and new medications, not budgeting for the local area. It will allow private companies to take over NHS hospitals, or the services that appeal to them and will stop the NHS being the comprehensive service it should be.
20% of the NHS budget will be spent on things like dealing with the contracts with private companies, advertising, the legal bits that go along with contracts, and a lot of other stuff that isn’t providing quality healthcare or trained staff. Many people will be made redundant – with payments having to be made, and those running the PCTs are likely to then be employed to be consultants to the GP groups.
The postcode lottery that already exists will become even more pronounced, with standards and range of care dependant on where you live. Hospitals will be able to treat more private patients, which seems okay in principle into you need the bed someone who can afford to pay for one is in.
It is one thing if you have an injury and go to A&E to be fixed, or you need a single operation like a knee replacement. The difficulty comes when people are chronically ill, such as myself. With these conditions come all sorts of problems, in different parts of the body, and there is no one specialist that can help me. At the moment my GP can refer me to a variety on consultants, and I currently see six consultants on a regular basis, in different parts of the country.
Under the new plans – the person I want to see may now be available only if I can afford to pay for it, which goes against the very philosophy of the NHS – free care, from cradle to grave.
Debates will be happening soon on Clause 4 of the NHS Bill, also known as the “hands-off clause.” It will completely change the way the minister’s duties towards the NHS, and mean they will only be able to stop something happening, or bring a change in, if they can demonstrate there was no other course of action. This isn’t very easy to do. The NHS is one of the most important issues for voters, and they are expecting ministers to try and take care of it – not sign a bill waiving away their responsibility. More information on this clause can be found here.
The government did not state in their manifesto they would be making these changes, and public support is largely against it, yet they seem to be pressing forward with them.
I’ve been trying to follow the 38 Degrees campaign, who have taken petitions to hundreds of MPs, including Nick Clegg, send thousands of emails, and are now asking people to ‘email a Baroness Lord’ at random to ask them to attend the debates. My pick is Baroness O’Neill, so I will be emailing her to tell her why I don’t support the bill.
You can do the same here.