Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/539/6207
"With polyclinics you're just a number"
"WHAT PEOPLE want is a good doctor who knows their history. If you get polyclinics, you'll just be a number." Many similar comments were made during a public meeting in the Nottinghamshire mining village of Warsop. Called by the local Patients' Forum to discuss the government's polyclinic plans, 50 local people turned up.
Two senior Primary Care Trust officers defended patient 'choice'. Surveys showed 84% were happy with their current general practice service, "but 16% were not - a sizeable number".
Someone replied that if 84% were happy with the government you wouldn't throw them out, yet the government is threatening local GP services! A GP said the government is aiming at the 16% who don't need a local service. A minority want to be able to see a doctor in the evening and will be prepared to travel. Those who use GP services most are least able to travel to a distant 'super health centre,' especially in rural areas with infrequent local buses.
"If I refer a patient to orthopaedics," said the GP, "the referral is vetted by a panel. The privately owned Independent Sector Treatment Centre cherry-picks the easiest patients. Those with complications, like diabetes and heart problems, are sent to the NHS hospital."
"We're moving to a two-tier service," said others. "Doesn't it cost more to have private companies running health services, because they have to make a profit?"
Every speaker from the audience opposed private companies running NHS services and a large 'super health centre' miles away, undermining local GP practices. When a vote was demanded, almost every hand went up opposing polyclinic plans and private companies providing NHS services.
In The Socialist 25 June 2008:
Socialist Party editorial
Unison Conference 2008
Socialist Party campaigns
Socialist Party Marxist analysis
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party NHS campaign
Origins of the Labour Party
Socialist Party workplace news