Socialist Worker

Going once, going twice—private firms bid for NHS

by Sarah Ensor
Issue No. 2347

NHS back story box

Huge changes across the health service make a mockery of the Tory claim that the NHS is safe in their hands.

New commissioning structures came into force on Monday of this week. They mean GPs can offer services from private companies instead of the NHS.

Private firms will undercut the NHS as funding cuts take their toll on the service.

Doctors and patients will be left with no choice but to get services from huge multinational firms. 

North London GP Ron Singer told Socialist Worker, “The Tories’ health act will steam along the tracks laid by New Labour when it promoted PFI and private companies in the NHS.

“It will become a safety net service with insurance companies offering ‘top-up’ policies—if you can afford them—for care the NHS no longer provides.”

People have already died from cuts to emergency services, according to A&E consultants in Wales. 

Nearly half of them have signed a warning letter to the new Welsh health minister Mark Drakeford.

Warning

One consultant told Socialist Worker, “There are two out of hours GPs for all of Cardiff, and most of the night there’s only one.

“So people automatically default to the A&E. There’s no space but we have to take patients in. 

“We’ve recently had a baby delivered in the mental health room and done ECG tests on a patient in the room where we lay out the dead.

“We all feel it’s spiralling down to the same appalling problems as in Stafford hospital.”

The new changes will only make this situation worse. GPs will be put in a position of conflicts of interest. 

They have to both provide care to patients and belong to the clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) that pay for it.

 “CCGs will be rewarded if they stay within budget,” explained Ron. 

“That means member GPs ‘being careful’ when prescribing or referring you—they get cash for less care.

“CCGs will also have to organise a dance of competitive tendering that will see private consultancy firms and lawyers grow rich on money that should be spent on our care.

“And 36 percent of doctors who sit on CCGs already have financial links to private health companies.”

The starting gun has been fired for the selling off of the NHS piece by piece. But there is still everything to fight for.

“Doctors have been poorly led by their BMA organisation,” said Ron. 

“But many are outraged by these attacks on the NHS and have joined local fightbacks as has happened in Lewisham and Ealing.

“More will surely do so as care becomes fragmented, blundered by profiteers and less safe.”

 


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Article information

News
Fri 5 Apr 2013, 16:02 BST
Issue No. 2347
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