Posted: March 3, 2012 in Uncategorized

by Daphne Liddle

THE TORY-led Coalition Government is in deep disarray as the Health and Social Care Bill goes to the House of Lords for debate. Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is demanding further big changes but Tory leader David Cameron will only say that minor amendments can be accommodated as the Bill passes through the Lords.

Last year’s “pause” and “listening exercise” resulting in a few minor cosmetic changes to the Bill have not appeased the Lib-Dem grass-roots and Clegg will again face an angry rank-and-file at the Lib-Dem spring conference.

As health unions and professional bodies like the British Medical Association and the various Royal Colleges have all lined up to call for the Bill to be scrapped, general opposition has grown, including within the ranks of the Lib Dem party.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s refusal to publish the Government’s own report into potential risks to healthcare in Britain posed by the huge changes the Bill will make to the NHS structure, has aroused more distrust and opposition.

Now a group of doctors set up to spearhead the Health Secretary’s NHS reforms has joined calls for the plans to be scrapped. For the first time one of the “clinical commissioning groups” (CCGs) set up to implement the proposals has formally expressed its opposition to the Bill.

This new opposition comes from the CCG in Tower Hamlets, east London, which is led by the senior GP who hosted Andrew Lansley’s first speech as Health Secretary.

In a letter to Cameron, obtained by the doctors’ magazine Pulse, Dr Sam Everington, from Tower Hamlets CGC, called for the Bill to be abandoned.

He wrote: “Your rolling restructuring of the NHS compromises our ability to focus on what really counts — improving quality of services for patients.

“Your Government has interpreted our commitment to our patients as support for the Bill. It is not.”

And to top it all, the general public are firmly opposed to the Bill, according to a YouGov poll report posted on the Tory party’s own website.

The Tory diary site of 12th February reported: “Today’s YouGov poll for The Sunday Times (PDF) finds widespread opposition to the Coalition’s Health and Social Care Bill:

  • 18 per cent support the reforms; 48 per cent oppose;
  • 19 per cent think increasing competition will improve NHS services but 49 per cent disagree;
  • 23 per cent think the Coalition should continue with the NHS reforms but 50 per cent think they should be abandoned;
  • 22 per cent identify David Cameron as the party leader they most trust on the NHS compared to 26 per cent who most trust Ed Miliband.”

Just about everyone in Britain opposes the Bill except Cameron’s narrow clique of greed obsessed business people who cannot wait to increase their fortunes at the expense of taxpayers, and ultimately at the expense of those who are ill and need treatment.

Lansley protests in vain that the Bill does not amount to the privatisation of the NHS. But it does still insist that it will be monitored primarily not for the quality of treatment delivered but for whether it acts on the principles of “fair competition” in allowing private companies to bid for NHS work.

This sort of competition will award work to those putting in the lowest tender, not the highest quality treatment.

And handing control of virtually the entire NHS budget to GPs is a total fraud. GPs have enough on their plate being doctors. They cannot also be expected to become accountants and managers. They will have to hand the work over to the dozens of greedy private healthcare companies, who, if the Bill goes ahead, will soon have control of the whole NHS budget.

The Tories argue that giving GPs control of the budget will enable them to protect the NHS for over commercialisation — yet they could be in breach of the “fair competition” rulings if they did. And it assumes that all GPs are altruistic saints. They are not.

The Bill must die! We have just one week to bombard our MPs with this message and to support the lobby and rally against the Bill in Westminster on Wednesday 7th March — next week from 1pm outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster and/or join the rally that evening in Central Hall Westminster from 6pm.

For those who cannot get there the rally will be streamed live on line (see the Unite union website for details).

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