NHS news review

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Nixon promotes private health care in similar fashion to David “I love the NHS” Cameron and Andrew Lansley. [I don’t agree with the comments on Clinton].

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Andrew Lansley is wrong – GPs do not support this NHS bill | Ron Singer | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

Those GPs who have joined commissioning groups have done so to defend their patients, not support this race to privatisation

Many have said the health and social care bill will ruin the NHS. Where do doctors stand? This doctor opposes the bill. It will reduce the health secretary’s duty to provide a comprehensive, universal service in England, sell off NHS services to “any willing provider” and replace co-operation with competition (euphemism: “choice”). The £20bn of “efficiencies” demanded over five years will mean the NHS shrinks. The better off will buy “health top-ups”, perhaps supported by private insurance schemes to pay for them. The rest will have an NHS safety-net service only.


Polls and conference resolutions demonstrate much disquiet among doctors about the race towards privatisation. Making GPs responsible for the treatments you can or cannot receive will move GPs from impartial, generally trusted patient advocate to guardians of their referral budgets. Some “doctorpreneurs” have stakes in private health providers. GPs’ decisions about you will no longer be impartial or trusted. Doctors and the public are increasingly concerned about this; trust is crucial to therapeutic relationships.


Two GP organisations, the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC) with close government links and the NHS Alliance – a naive implementer of governments’ policies – are in favour with Andrew Lansley. They contain the GP enthusiasts for getting their hands on the levers of power – allegedly. Allegedly because commissioning groups (CGs) will have little commissioning power after the enormous bureaucracy being created – the NHS commissioning board and regional outposts, remnants of primary care trusts, health and well-being boards and clinical senates – has told them what they can and cannot do.


The BMA is about to launch (a little late perhaps) a public campaign for the bill to be withdrawn. It refuses to oppose the bill so it can stay in negotiation with government rather than leaving the field open to NAPC and the NHS Alliance. The BMA acknowledges it will end in tears and wants to stay “in touch” to help stitch the NHS back together.

Labour highlights NHS competition fears and criticises Health Bill amendments | GPonline.com

In a Labour briefing document, John Healey MP, shadow health minister, criticised the government’s Health Bill amendments for not changing the role of new regulator, Monitor, enough.

Mr Healey argued that changing Monitor’s duty to promote competition to a duty of ‘preventing anti-competitive behaviour’ did not address fears raised during the listening exercise.

‘We are concerned that this flipping of language may not substantially affect how Monitor carries out its duties, and therefore does not reflect the deep concerns expressed by those responding to the listening exercise.’

Mr Healey said that the amendments changed Monitor’s specific duties but did not alter the broad scope of its powers.

He warned that the NHS’s protection from UK and EU competition law would be removed by changes in the Bill.

‘Monitor will still have the power to enforce competition law and to fine hospitals by 10% of their income, for collaboration that is deemed to be anti-competitive,’ he said.

Mr Healey said that decisions about providers could end up being made ‘by lawyers in Monitor and competition courts’.

The amendments have created ‘more bureaucracy and more complexity’ and would ultimately lead to the NHS becoming a market, Mr Healey warned.

‘The government amendments still leave in place the essential elements of the Tories’ long-term plan to set up the NHS as a full-scale market and break up the NHS as a national public service,’ Mr Healey said.

The Bill returns to the Commons for report stage debate on 6 September.
Further Reading

Hospital cuts jobs threat is revealed – Health Care Services – lep.co.uk

Health chiefs have said there will be job losses at Preston and Chorley hospitals as they battle to slash a massive £50m from their budget.

Managers at Lancashire Teaching Hospitals, which runs the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble Hospitals, say that at this stage there are no plans for compulsory redundancies, but there will be a reduction in headcount as they attempt to cut their pay bill.

As part of the Government’s plans for £20bn of NHS savings, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has to make around £50m of savings over the next three-years.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals has an annual expenditure of £360m, which means the budget for three years will exceed £1bn.

The hospital trust has to make £21m of savings by April 2012 and then a further £15m for each of the following two years.

Measures identified to make savings reducing the number of theatre sessions and clinics, best prices for supplies, including stationery and reducing the need for temporary staff.

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