Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/515/3596
Big business hands off our NHS!
PRIMARY CARE Trust (PCT) bosses in one of London's poorest boroughs have given a contract to a multinational private conglomerate, Atos Origin, to run St Paul's Way Medical Centre, at present managed by the PCT.
By a community nurse
Nationwide, PCTs are being encouraged to become commissioners of services rather than service providers. Services normally seen at doctors' surgeries, Out of Hours Services and Walk-In Centres (WIC) are being put out to tender. This is destroying our NHS, as health care becomes a commodity to be bought and sold.
Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) schemes allow independent and voluntary sector and not-for-profit organisations to bid for and provide mainstream primary care services.
The Department of Health says PCTs decide which provider is best able to deliver specific services for their local population. In Tower Hamlets, questions are being asked. Why did two local GP practices, both with proven track records and years of experience of working with the local community, lose out in the tender to a private multinational?
These local practices have been providing services in the borough since before antibiotics were widely available, and undoubtedly can shape "locally appropriate services responsive to the needs of the community". But Tower Hamlets PCT saw Atos Origin's 18 months of running a Walk In Centre as the more relevant experience.
The NHS's problems will not be solved by bringing in private companies. They always 'cherry-pick' the profitable, easy and cheaper care, rather than looking after those requiring long-term care or palliative care. These companies will erode the care important to many, such as the family doctor, somebody who knows you, your family and your health problems - a trusting relationship built up over a period of time.
Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public organised a protest soon after hearing of the takeover. But patients at the surgery had no idea what was happening, there had been no consultation that they knew of. Many wanted to be involved in further protests and action.
Days later the Local Medical Committee wrote to the PCT, highlighting its loss of confidence in the Trust's ability to provide basic care in the community. They said the Trust had chosen profit over patient care.
Six more Tower Hamlets surgeries are at risk of the same fate. We need to stand united and build a campaign. The new private surgery should open on 31 January. The plan is to mobilise patients and health care staff to say loudly to the PCT: "No to privatisation in our health care services".
In The Socialist 10 January 2008:
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party review