So the NHS has a new constitution - well I will add my voice to those concerned that it is too weak to protect the core ideas behind the NHS against the impact of commercialisation.
Paul Evans, director of the NHS Support Federation says: “Government lawyers will have been working long and hard to ensure that the NHS constitution cannot be used to stop its commercialisation programme, but it is this precisely which is the greatest threat to the values and principles of the health service."
The Federation believes that the terms of the constitution are at odds with the impact of government policy. The NHS constitution states that "The NHS is an integrated system of organisations and services bound together by the principles and values now reflected in the Constitution". In reality the NHS is becoming more fragmented as more commercial providers are contracted to run NHS services.
Surely as the current economic crisis shows we cannot rely on commercial companies to act in ways which protect the public interest. Yet the government seems set on placing commercial values at the heart of the NHS. I can't see this constitution being any match for the large corporate interests currently looking to run NHS services.
Meanwhile here's a petition worth signing:
Local health centres and NHS medical practices should be banned from using 08 numbers or offer a local 01 or 02 number alternative for booking appointments. I am not aware of any in the Stroud area (??) - but where operating these expensive charges impact unfairly on those with low income - indeed sometimes you can wait a long time on the phone just to make an appointment. Take for example an 0870 number - it costs 10 pence per minute.