UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

NHS reforms scaled back - really?

The response to the Government's Health White Paper showed the level of anger at plans to dismantle the NHS, and hand it over to profiteers: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/nhs-reform-scaled-back-after-review-2297267.html

You need to look no further than Southern Cross to see the devastating consequences of privatisation in the provision of care to some of the most vulnerable people in our society. The united response against the Government's plans to introduce wholesale competition into the NHS shows the misjudgement of both the Tories and the Lib Dems, who originally supported the Bill until their own ranks rebelled:

Public satisfaction with the NHS is at its highest for years, waiting times had come down, and quality had improved. So why you might ask are we being told that reform has to happen. It is ideological and it is about opening up the largest as yet unprivatised sector to the markets.

If you look through all the hype about having paused and listened the key plank of the reform which was to increase competition is still there. Cameron yesterday said himself that the principles of the original reforms had not been adandoned - yes due to the campaigning done by UNISON alongside many others, the scale and pace has had to be reconsidered, but the fundamentals of handing over £80 billion to GPs and increasing private sector provision have not.

The cost of reorganisation could be much better used to provide clinical care. Waiting times are increasing in less than a year of this Government, and it is evidenced that increased competition does not improve quality - that arguement is a red herring. We saw what happened when hospital cleaning services were privatised - infections rates increased. Most hospitals have in fact brought cleaning services back into direct public provision.

This Government is going to oversee the breaking up of the NHS, and worse services for patients. Of course if you are one of the millionaires in the Cabinet then you can afford to pay to jump to the top of waiting lists, you can afford to shop around, however if you are one of the majority who does not have that choice then you will suffer the consequences of their policies.

It is a positive that Lansley has not been able to get away with losing statutory responsibility to ensure the provision of healthcare and we must keep campaigning and hold this Government to account for breaking their promises on the NHS.

Clare Williams