Sunday, 4 March 2012

Defend the NHS - act now

David Cameron has always said that the NHS is safe with the Tories but fewer and fewer people believe him as the Tory led Coalition Government’s plans to shake up the Health Service in this country become clear. Even the former chief of the NHS has called this bill a mistake and confused. This bill aims to privatise much of the NHS and is diverting billions of pounds away from patient care.

If the bill is passed in Parliament within the next two or three weeks the NHS as we know it will disappear and the profit motive will be introduced into the health service.

Already we can see the effects of the Tory Lib Dem Coalition Government's plans are having locally on our health provision. The new guidelines will force the local NHS to put aside £22.1million from their budget this year and next to pay for a costly NHS restructure that David Cameron repeatedly ruled out. In Wigan and Leigh 200 health jobs could be shed over the next year and 70 beds – three complete wards - could also be lost. From May 2010 to August 2011 there has been an increase of nearly 70% in the number of people in Wigan and Leigh who have to wait 18 weeks for treatment. This is despite Cameron's promise that the NHS is safe with the Tories.

Mr Cameron wants to legislate to turn our NHS into a free market. He needs to be reminded in no uncertain terms that he does not have the public's permission to do this. Nobody voted for this re-organisation and Mr Cameron promised it would not happen.

Most health professional bodies representing thousands of workers in the NHS are opposed to this bill. Here's what some of them say:

Faculty of Public Health

"Our latest survey of members found that 93% of those responding said that the Health and Social Care Bill, if passed, will damage the NHS and the health of people in England. Three quarters of our members called on FPH to demand the complete withdrawal of the Health Bill."

Royal College of GPs
'Competition, and the opening up our of health service to any qualified providers will lead not only to fragmentation of care, but also potentially to a 'two tier' system with access to care defined by a patient's ability to pay."

Royal College of Anaesthetists
"Unfettered competition is likely to harm the provision of comprehensive integrated care, affect clinically indicated changes to service provision, widen health inequalities and may impact adversely on the education and training of tomorrows doctors. The proposed changes are likely to be costly and will distract the NHS from meeting the proposed quality improvements for patients."

Royal College of Ophthalmologists

"The key areas for concern and risk are - unhealthy and unfair competition, conflicts of interest of key stakeholders, compromised education and training of doctors, fragmentation of care, a shift from patient-centred to organ-centred care and inequalities in health care."

Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health

"We've never supported this bill, but we have engaged with the government to try and make the best of it.

"But we're a membership organisation and paediatricians views have changed and hardened considerably. We've surveyed our membership and their view is that we should now call for withdrawal of the bill."

Royal College of Pathologists

"We are not convinced that there is enough operational detail in the current or in the proposed commissioning process.

"And we are extremely concerned about the current and future impact of the combination of the changes this bill brings, the current manner and pace of reconfiguration of services, including managerial, and the arbitrary removal of 20% from NHS spending on pathology services."

Royal College of Physicians of London
"We will continue to work with government, parliamentarians and all other stakeholders to improve the existing Health and Social Care Bill. We have remaining concerns with the reforms that the government must address."

Royal College of Psychiatrists
"The bill is fundamentally flawed and will not improve the health and care of people with mental illness.

"The college is therefore not able to support the bill as it currently stands."

Royal College of Radiologists

"Given our widespread concerns over many serious and as yet unresolved issues, we cannot support, and must continue to oppose, the passage of the bill in its current form."

Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists
Oversees training and practice in obstetrics and gynaecology.

"We have been reassured by the amendments and the emphasis on competition being focused exclusively for improving the quality of women's healthcare.

"There are still outstanding issues such as the development of women's health networks and national leadership. "

If you want to tell David Cameron to Drop the Bill and stop the privatisation of our National Health Service you can join the many thousands of people who have already signed the online petition at /2670 or write to David Cameron directly.