At the end of July Greens joined the Stroud Against the cuts protest regarding the threats to our NHS - see below the 5 reasons outlined by the local campaign.
The health secretary recently announced that in addition to all the other changes, £1bn worth of NHS services is to be opened up to competition. Why, why, why are we playing with the NHS when it is already one of the most efficient health care systems in the world?? See report showing that here. It can only be ideological reasons - see my recent letter to press here.
Worse still are the allegations like the favours to 'Tory' hospital in Bath - see here - a Government quango has ordered health chiefs across two counties to send more patients to a private hospital which is owned by two major donors to the Conservative Party!
My union, UNISON, have a good article that shows why we should worry about social enterprises for the NHS - see here. Neil Carmichael's column in the SNJ is concerning as he seems to not understand the risks or the huge costs in making these wholly unnecessary and damaging changes to the NHS. Greens have organised a public meeting to which Neil has been invited - it looks set to be 31st August in Stroud with an excellent speaker from UNISON. Click read more to see more.
5 REASONS WHY THIS MUST BE STOPPED:
1. 1. It is a BIG STEP TOWARDS PRIVATISATION of our health service. The social enterprise will only be guaranteed the contract for 3 years – after that, our local health service would be opened up to private multinational healthcare companies. Some services may be privatised sooner. Social enterprises’ own representative body says that social enterprises that have taken over large NHS PCTs would find it hard to stop takeovers by private companies in future. In Hull, the first ex-NHS social enterprise, several clinics have already been fully privatised.
2. 2. It is a FIGLEAF FOR CUTS, POORER CARE & LONGER WAITING LISTS. Whatever rumours are being spread about new hospitals, there is no new money – £20billion of NHS cuts have already started. The Royal College of Nursing has talked of ‘stealth cuts’ to staff – up to 50,000 frontline job losses. Private companies will only provide money for buildings and services if they can make a profit by charging more than the public sector, and/or providing a poorer service (as happened with the private treatment clinics and PFI building projects). So we’d end up paying more either as taxpayers, or as patients. The cap on hospitals & clinics earning income from private patients would no longer apply, meaning that our hospitals would be forced to prioritise those who can afford to pay, at the expense of those who can’t, and NHS provision would gradually wither away.
3. 3. There’ll be a LOSS of quality, trained staff as the terms & conditions for staff around Stroud fall behind those of NHS staff in neighbouring Trusts.
4. 4. All decisions, including the awarding of multi-million pound contracts and future cuts, would be made BEHIND LOCKED DOORS. Freedom of information laws wouldn’t apply and we would have no right to see records of decisions or about possible conflicts of interest, incompetence or corruption. This was the same lack of transparency that allowed Southern Cross to implode so devastatingly. Some of those making decisions now already have interests in private health companies and turning hospitals into luxury flats – would we even know this, in future?
5. 5. It will require MORE, NOT LESS BUREAUCRACY - more committees, new logos & uniforms, tax disadvantages... Other PCTs have pulled back from the social enterprise route when they realised the waste of money involved.
‘The NHS will exist for as long as there are people left with faith to fight for it’
Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS
Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS