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

Thursday, 4 August 2011

‘Choice’ agenda is a Trojan horse to break up the NHS

The Kings Fund, a health and social care think tank, has published a report ‘social enterprise in health care’, which reviews the slow emergence of the Con Dem’s preferred alternative to the NHS as providers of health care in England: http://www.kingsfund.org.uk/publications/social_enterprise_in.html

The big idea arising from the review is that new social enterprises will require favourable treatment in the procurement process as their benefits ‘need to be seen as long term’.

Listeners to this morning’s BBC Radio 4’s Today programme will have heard UNISON’s Christina McAnea debate the report with Sir Stephen Bubb, a ubiquitous advocate for competition, choice and an end to the fair deal on pensions in the NHS.

Bubb was introduced as a participant in the NHS Future Forum but his day job is Chief Executive of Acevo – the lobby organisation for senior executives in the voluntary sector.

Bubb had the audacity to trot out the usual producer capture argument about the NHS being ‘the property of the public and not the NHS professionals’. Nor we might add is it the property of overpaid bureaucrats in the voluntary sector with self aggrandising and self enriching designs on public services.

For a useful critique of the effects of the choice agenda in social care following 20 years of competition and running down of public provision read Tom Clark’s blog on the Guardian website:

‘Ministers imagine that by hiving-off services they can disentangle the state and leave failing outfits to go to the wall. In practice, it rarely works out that way. It is simply not practical to allow crucial services to shut down like unprofitable shops, as was seen with Southern Cross. Whitehall was forced to promise elderly residents that they would not be shunted out on to the streets, even before it had figured out how it could guarantee this.’