The Socialist 19 January 2011
Unite against all the cuts
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Government health bill spells disaster for patients and workers
Save our NHS!
THE GOVERNMENT is planning a massive assault on the NHS in England in its latest health bill. This is on top of billions of pounds of 'efficiency savings' ie cuts, in the NHS budget.
Primary care trusts will be abolished and, instead, 80% of the NHS budget is to be administered by GPs (general practitioners). However, GPs, lacking the capacity or expertise to commission services on such a large scale, will soon be taken over by private companies. Consequently, the health bill will see a full-blown commercial health market established - a potential gold mine for private companies to muscle into the NHS and make big profits.
All the health workers' trade unions as well as the British Medical Association are largely opposed to these 'reforms'.
A London health worker explains the likely impact of the government's NHS reorganisation on health services:
"Under New Labour every area had to have an open tender for at least one primary care practice. So where I live in Camden there is a major GP centre which is now run by an American health care company.
You also have private companies buying specific wings of hospitals. They will now have the ability to buy an entire hospital. Effectively all three cornerstones of the NHS ie primary care, commissioning and secondary/tertiary care will be owned by private companies. There is nothing in this legislation to stop that being the same private company.
For example, the GP centre in Camden that's owned by this US corporation will be given the Camden budget. It could, for instance, purchase the Royal Free Hospital and effectively commission itself to provide both the primary and secondary and hospital care.
The logical conclusion of all this is a cartel of private companies in the NHS. This is why you are seeing private health companies paying way over the odds for smaller competitors and paying way over the odds for GP centres - because they see the potential for profits at every turn...."
Static budgets, increasing need
"The government has imposed static budgets in the NHS despite increasing demands on services. But with health inflation running at 7.9% inevitably this is resulting in huge deficits.
Before Christmas I asked a top commissioning manager in the NHS if there will be a financial crisis in the next couple of years? She replied: 'Not in the next two years but in the next six months.'
Inevitably we will see hospital wards, departments and even entire hospitals being closed.
On top of this budget crisis comes the government's wholesale reorganisation. It will lead to anarchy. PCTs are already in a mess. They have lost half their staff. (Mainly lower and middle managers, the top managers have kept their posts and salaries.) Effectively nobody is presently holding the purse strings.
We will see massive increases in waiting times, people kept on trolleys in corridors, etc. It will be a return to the bad old days of the 1980s and 1990s."
In this issue
National Shop Stewards Network
Socialist Party NHS campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party youth and students
Socialist Party workplace news