The controversial Health and Social Care Bill is gradually passing through parliament, the Bill would reorganise the way healthcare is delivered in England and Wales. If the Bill is passed as it currently stands it would abolish Primary Care Trusts and introduce NHS commissioning boards. Your GP will become an accountant and commissioner fighting for the cheapest possible care for the patient. The Bill is the most significant change to health legislation since the NHS was created in 1948.
Critics of the Bill argue it is the privatisation of the NHS, whilst supporters argue it is the change the health service needs to reform and modernise. Currently the Bill is at the committee stage in the House of Lords - it is likely the Bill will pass the remaining stages and become law. Unite the Union have issued a press release following an investigation which shows that a number of Conservative Peers with private healthcare links and who hardly ever bother to turn up to vote in the House of Lords - have voted in favour of the Health Bill. Such peers include Baroness Bottomley, Lord Ashcroft and Lord Coe.
The campaign group '38 Degrees' instructed lawyers to analyse the Health and Social Care Bill and it has to be said it does show basic privatisation and the removal of the NHS as it is today - a truly national health service free at the point of use. The campaign group found that "The Bill will remove the duty of the Secretary of State to provide or secure the provision of health services which has been a common and critical feature of all previous NHS legislation since 1946. This is the means by which Parliament ensures the NHS delivers what the public want and expect. Furthermore, a "hands-off clause" will severely curtail the Secretary of State's ability to influence the delivery of NHS care to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare possible." You can read the report here.
Those of you who read my blogs may remember a blog I published last year about David Cameron's private meeting with a group which seeks to privatise the NHS. At the time David Cameron was leader of the opposition, he invited into his private office in the House of Commons, Dr Helen Evans the Director of Nurses for Reform. She was invited for an hour long meeting to give Mr Cameron her ideas on the privatising the NHS. After conducting some research and looking into the board of directors at Nurses for Reform, I managed to link the group directly to the Conservative Party. You can read the blog here.
Writing in the book 'What next for Labour?' the President of the Royal Society for Public Health and former Health Minister, Lord Hunt states that "the most recent British Social Attitudes survey showed that satisfaction with the NHS is at the highest level ever. When Labour entered office in 1997, only a third of people (34%) were satisfied with the NHS. Yet by 2009, satisfaction stood at 64%, the highest level since the survey began."
That goes to show that, no the NHS is not perfect, but it is working as it is. One thing is clear, we in Britain are extremely proud of our NHS; it is a national institution that we don't want to see destroyed. We don't want to live in a country where wealth determines access to care. I hope the government reconsiders this bill.
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