Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Lansley: Now his own MPs are challenging him.

It must be a lonely life for the health secretary right now. He thought he had a beautiful vision for the NHS, full of lollipops and rainbows. But since he spelt it out few have come to applaud him, and many have begun lining up to criticise. 

Running a rogue department, now even fellow Tories are getting nervy.

First in line were the major public sector unions, then the BMA, the Royal College of GPs, the Royal College of Nursing, as well as the new head of the RCGP. All of them came out to criticise the plans, and often in dramatic terms. Now, one of his own MPs, who also worked as a GP, joined in the criticism, saying that 'to avoid privatisation of the NHS, he must change course.'

An important part of the reforms that she mentions, and which hasn't been discussed in detail as yet, are the new competition laws being forced upon the NHS. No longer will your GP be able to refer you to an NHS hospital without first getting a quote off private providers. As I'd imagine there are few GPs around who are up to speed on EU competition law, you can safely assume that they won't fancy being dragged in front of a court to explain why they fell foul of the competition laws. To save the hassle they will hand over the power to experienced private companies, who are more than comfortable with taking the risk.

This isn't hypothetical, it's already happening with the Great Western Commisioning Consortium of Ealing, who recently tendered out responsibility over patient referral to United Healthcare, a large private health care multinational, who will have no qualms about denying the NHS services in favour of private competitors.

As well as this, it is safe to assume that new private companies will be happy to run loss-leader services to undercut the NHS and get a foothold in the new system, whilst driving NHS services into the ground and forcing them to close.

I'll let Sarah Wollaston, the Tory MP, have the last word:

"If commissioners cannot design care pathways free from the spectre of lawsuits from private providers, they will hand over to commercial commissioners prepared to take the rap. If those private commissioners turn to private providers at the expense of NHS providers, then my e-mailer [who asked if the NHS was being privatised] might not have been so wide of the mark after all."

Get a grip Andrew.

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