Monday, 4 October 2010
Local Campaigners Slam Government Threats to Dismantle the NHS
Open Letter to Secretary of State for Health about the NHS White Paper
Andrew Lansley MP
Secretary of State for Health
Department of Health
1st October 2010
OBJECTIONS TO THE WHITE PAPER
Dear Mr Lansley
We are writing in response to your public consultation exercise, which ends 5th October 2010, to express our alarm and deep opposition to the health reforms proposed by the White Paper.
The NHS is society’s most universally valued public service, and there is overwhelming support for the principle that it is publicly owned and provided, fully tax funded and available to all.
The profound organisational changes proposed by the White Paper represent the most serious threat ever to the existence of the NHS.
Despite the rhetoric of fairness, equality and mutuality, these proposals advocate a widespread privatisation of the health service, introducing a world where hospitals become businesses and where private companies compete in a potentially irreversible NHS market, effectively destroying the 1946 NHS Act.
From a patient’s perspective these proposals are truly frightening, resulting in extreme disruption, fragmentation, increasing health inequalities and extortionate administration costs, in place of patient care. It is clear that the public do not want consumer variety or a postcode lottery; just a seamless service across all regions.
From a GP’s perspective, we find it ominous. These proposals, which would force GPs to form consortia to commission local services and allow unlimited provision of private medicine, do not fit neatly into a GP’s mainstream workload. The majority of GPs are neither in favour of private sector involvement, nor do they possess the necessary skills for commissioning. It is likely that the chosen GPs will become token clinicians within a corporate monstrosity and that “unelected bureaucrats” will eventually be replaced by unelected global bullies.
From a health worker’s perspective the loss of tens of thousands of jobs is inevitable, massively increasing the workload of remaining staff, whilst employment rights across the NHS would be completely eroded, ending national pay agreements including sick pay and pension entitlements, and changing standards and terms of employment beyond recognition. Restrictions on GP commissioning budgets also present a serious risk of bed and ward closures, and of hospitals going bankrupt.
From the general public’s perspective we find the lack of consultation abhorrent, and the discarding of our national treasures in this way completely unacceptable.
With no evidence that the proposals would produce financial savings, public money for health would end up in the pockets of shareholders rather than being spent on patient care, whilst billions of pounds of tax payers’ money would be transferred to private companies, including huge multinational health corporations, many from the United States, with no public accountability.
It is clear to us that the changes you advocate in the White Paper are so profound that they represent nothing less than the dismantling of the NHS as we know it, developing a U.S.-style market-based health system and leaving an NHS only in name.
Shirley Franklin (Chair, Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition)
Andy Bain (TSSA President)
Ivy and Alan Beard (Save Chase Farm)
Emma Dixon (Islington Green Party)
Mick Gilgunn (Secretary, Islington Trades Union Council)
Katy Gold (Treasurer, Defend Whittington Hospital Coalition)
Sarah Cope (Haringey Green Party)
Gary Heather (Joint Chair, Islington Hands off Our Public Services)
Kathryn Dean (Haringey Green Party)
Dr Robert MacGibbon FRCGP
Kieran McGregor (Save Chase Farm)
Rich Moth (Deputy Convenor, Social Work Action Network)
Mike Shaughnessy (Haringey Green Party)
Angela Sinclair-Loutit (Islington Pensioners Forum)
Alasdair Smith (President, Islington National Union of Teachers)
Sean Wallis (Branch Secretary, University College London, Universities and Colleges
Kate Wilkinson (Save Chase Farm)