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John Healey, MP, Shadow Health Secretary, set out Labour's response to the Health and Social Care Bill at The King's Fund. He emphasised their concern with the new system of GP commissioning and the speed at which these changes will be implemented.
A measured but devasting critique of the implications of the proposed reorganisation of the NHS. Healey is right to draw attention to the political and ideological agenda underlying the managerial facade of the reforms. This is required listening for the Lib Dems, who must now assert their identity within the coalition to defeat the Health Bill if they are to retain any credibility.
A highly thoughtful and incisive critique of the reforms. Missing or needs rethinking:
i) No mention of the public health reforms -which are contingent-in siginficant part on the NHS reforms avoiding chaos.
ii) It is a mistake to accept the Govt definitions of front line staff and "bureacracy"- do we really want doctos and nurses filling in their own forms, arranging clinics, washing florrs etc?
iii) Last but not least: not enough prominence given to the fate of equity: the evidence is that patients may want to choose what time they have an appt but they largely do NOT want to choose where they go -rather they would prefer a high quality, equitable service nearby for most situations.
I have been a renal patient for the last 45 years and owe my survival over that period solely to my ability to bypass the dysfunctional NHS provision and purchase the care I needed either overseas ( e.g renal transplant, CABG surgery) or via UK private providers ( e.g primary hip replacement surgery). The NHS has never provided me with the treatment I needed apart from basic dialysis equipment, routine blood tests etc. Many of the complications I have suffered are a result of incompetent NHS clinical management which is rife throughout the service at all levels from senior consultants to ward staff.
However while I see that Andrew Lansley is trying to make the service more responsive to patients' needs he has not gone far enough - all he is doing is shaking up the supply side. What he should be doing is giving patients the cash to buy their own treatment by introducing a social insurance fund that only pays out to doctors and hospitals after they have delivered treatment and the patient has made a co-paymernt of say 20% of the treatment costs. This would ensure that doctors and hospitals had their feet kept to the fire at all times, would dramatically improve health outcomes, drive out incompetent and idle doctors and nurses, deter people from wasting doctors' time with trivial complaints, and thus ensure health care costs were kept within what the country can afford.
How about it, Andrew? I am afraid you have wasted the opportunity of a lifetime to sort out the NHS once and for all.