7 Jun 2011

Letter re disasterous NHS and education changes

Here is the letter to local press below that I sent at the weekend - but first the Gloucestershire public drop-ins re the NHS. Stroud's is on 22nd June 11-1 in the Sub Rooms.

Photo: View across to Whiteshill

Dear Madam,

It is no wonder there have been letters to the SNJ concerning the Coalition's plans for the NHS. We are told a funding crisis threatens the NHS if Andrew Lansley's 'reforms' don't go through. The truth is that there is a massive funding crisis facing the NHS whatever. This has been created by the impact of the government's cuts, money wasted on the ongoing privatisation of the NHS (including the PFI schemes) and a failure to 'green' the NHS with more emphasis on prevention and less on mega-hospitals.

Our NHS is value for money; it remains one of the least expensive and lower than both the EU and OECD average. The press talk of NHS negligence and misdiagnosis, yet a recent study shows that the NHS is the one of the safest healthcare systems in the world and a patient survey of eleven countries published earlier this year shows that on most criteria the NHS is in fact first class.

The Coalition plan a take over of the NHS by competing private companies responsive primarily to their shareholders. Forget the camouflage of localism and choice. People can't choose if services are contracted out, as contracts go on regardless. Even pro-market economist DeAnne Julius failed to find any decent evidence that contracting out actually works as a general proposition. Forget wasting billions on reorganisation, what the NHS needs is more money, less private sector and more on prevention.

Meanwhile while many of us focus on the shake-up of the NHS, Michael Gove has been pushing ahead with school reforms that are just as risky. It is the same sorry story with private providers set to take over services and further develop a two-tier system in which the poor get a bog-standard service while privileged families are offered a streamlined alternative.

The private sector has no "magic bullet" for education or the NHS. Both Lansley and Gove seem set on ripping apart our services for purely ideological reasons. Greens are amongst those who will be opposing their moves.

Cllr Philip Booth, Stroud District councillor for Randwick, Whiteshill and Ruscombe ward (Green Party)

PS The Green party sponsored Coffee House discussion on Friday 24th June is on the NHS at 7.30 at Star Anise cafe.

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