Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

PUTTING OUR HEALTH SERVICE TO RIGHTS: a new document

In A.Graham on November 11, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Since the passing of the Health and Social Care Act, our NHS has lurched towards crisis and fragmentation. And privatisation of the service has continued relentlessly, to the point where Andy Burnham (Labour Party spokesman) has called for a halt until the election. He fears that by next May there will be little left of the NHS apart from a hollow shell.

But now, Professor Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick have published a paper entitled “The proposed NHS Reinstatement Bill”. It takes the form of a Parliamentary White Paper and is open for consultation by all those concerned at the state of our Health Service.

It starts from the premise that the rot set in some time ago – during the grim years when Thatcher was in power, and continued through the years when Blair was PM.  As the authors say, “the Bill proposes to reverse 25 years of  marketisation in the NHS by abolishing the purchaser-provider split, re-establishing public bodies and fully restoring the NHS in England as an accountable public service.”

The document itself runs to some 50 pages, but in summary, the proposals are as follows.

  • Reinstate the Government’s duty to provide the NHS in England,
  • re-establish District Health Authorities, with Family Health Services Committees to administer arrangements with GPs,  dentists and others,
  • abolish marketised bodies such as NHS trusts, NHS foundation trusts and clinical commissioning groups, as well as “Monitor”, the regulator of NHS foundation trusts and commercial companies,
  • end virtually all commissioning and allow commercial companies to provide services only if the NHS could not do so  when otherwise patients would suffer,
  • abolish competition,
  • re-establish Community Health Councils to represent the interests of the public in the NHS,
  • stop licence conditions taking effect which have been imposed by Monitor on NHS foundation trusts, that will have the effect of reducing by April 2016 the number of services that they currently have to provide,
  • bring the terms and conditions of staff employed in providing NHS services under the NHS Staff Council,
  • prohibit ratification of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and other international treaties without the approval of Parliament  (and the devolved bodies) if they would cover the NHS.
  • re-establish Community Health Councils to represent the interests of the public in the NHS,
  • stop licence conditions taking effect which have been imposed by Monitor on NHS foundation trusts, that will have the effect of reducing by April 2016 the number of services that they currently have to provide,
  • bring the terms and conditions of staff employed in providing NHS services under the NHS Staff Council,
  • prohibit ratification of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and other international treaties without the approval of Parliament  (and the devolved bodies) if they would cover the NHS.

The document is, naturally enough, written in legalistic language – but from the brief summary the thrust of the document is clear. Indeed, Nye Bevan and early pioneers of our Health Service would recognise the spirit in which these points are made and agree with them.

Such a Bill would restore overall Government responsibility for the NHS as a duty to us all. It would re-introduce a structure of democratic control over the Health Service (much of which was abolished by Thatcher), and eliminate market forces from a service that was set up to serve the people.

The authors are calling for consultation on their paper (which is available from the Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, Queen Mary, University of London).  Or the authors can be contacted at: p.roderick@qmul.ac.uk   or a.pollock@qmul.ac.uk

Responses should be sent before the 15th December 20124.

THE COST OF OUTSOURCING:

Serco, the company that loves to gobble up Government contracts, has been accused of overcharging the NHS by millions of pounds for “services provided”.

The hospitals affected are Guy’s and St. Thomas’s, both in London where Serco overcharged for services to hospital laboratories – run by Viapath. Such overcharging ran over a number of years, though Viapath say that the problem has “now been resolved”.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health has said that “all providers of services to NHS patients, whether independent or NHS providers, are required to meet the same high standards on patient care and financial control.”

Well, it would say that – wouldn’t it?

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