- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat (Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
BMA leaders will meet this week with the Royal College of Nursing and other medical royal colleges to build a united front in opposition to the Health Bill.
GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the intention was to ‘provide a united position against the Health Bill but in support of appropriate changes to the NHS’.
The meeting, planned for Thursday 26 January, follows a wave of attacks on health secretary Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms.
A House of Commons health select committee report this week warned that NHS services were being ‘salami-sliced’ in a bid to hit the £20bn savings target set by NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson.
A recent poll of RCGP members found that 98% would back a call for the Health Bill to be withdrawn if this was made in tandem with other royal colleges.
The Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives last week declared a policy shift on the Health Bill, declaring their opposition to the Bill ‘in its entirety’.
The BMA has also called for the Health Bill to be withdrawn. Dr Vautrey hit out at Mr Lansley’s response to criticisms of his health reform programme.
‘I don’t think stonewalling in that way is the way to increase engagement with health professionals and patients.
‘I think he at the moment appears to be not fully taking on board the seriousness of the increasing opposition.’
Dr Vautrey added that Mr Lansley had ‘repeatedly outlined his desire for greater clinical engagement and a greater voice for patients’. ‘No one disagrees with that,’ he said. ‘We think he’s going about it in the wrong way.’
To the Tories, health is a huge untapped business opportunity – but the backlash could still derail their privatisation bill
Unless decisive action is taken in the next few weeks, the National Health Service is heading for disaster. The battle over the coalition’s plans to turn England’s NHS inside out has been going on so long, the details are so arcane and claims of concessions so regular, it would be easy to imagine that the worst had been averted and common sense prevailed.
But that could not be further from the case. As the health secretary Andrew Lansley boasted last autumn – after the Conservatives had accepted a “pause” in the progress of their health market and privatisation bill while Liberal Democrats were pacified with cosmetic concessions – its “fundamental principles remain”.
It was a rare moment of candour. As a group of lawyers and health academics spell out in the Lancet medical journal this week, if the health and social care bill is passed in its amended form it will abolish England’s model of “tax-financed, universal healthcare”, pave the way for a “US-style health system” based on “mixed funding” and fatally undermine “entitlement to equality of healthcare provision”.
Meanwhile, the preparations for this lurch towards market-driven private provision – at a cost of £3bn – are already causing havoc with the government’s parallel attempt to drive through the deepest cuts in the history of the NHS.
So the hapless Lansley was on the back foot again yesterday, dismissing as “Westminster nonsense” the onslaught from the Commons health committee, which accused ministers of “salami slicing” NHS services and blamed the reorganisation for creating “disruption and distraction” from the task of effective reform and saving money.
The Tories suffered another setback to their brutal Welfare Reform Bill this Monday.
The House of Lords voted to exclude child benefits from the cap, following fears that over 100,000 children would be plunged into poverty.
The bill would impose a cap on benefits of £500 a week for a household.
It is one of a number of attacks on welfare that it hopes would save between £6 billion and £7 billion pounds a year.
But work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith pledges to overturn the Lords’ amendment when the bill returns to the House of Commons.
He says the bill would be “pointless” without the cap on child benefit.
Large sections of the media are cheering him on.
Since the new cap would apply to the whole household rather than individual children, it amounts to a harsh tax on large families.
Economist Tim Leunig calculates that “after rent, council tax and utilities, a family with four children would have 62p per person per day to live on. That is physically impossible.”
Hundreds of low paid NHS workers at Guy’s and St Thomas’s trust in London have been told to leave their subsidised accommodation with just three months’ notice.
The trust accommodation office sent a letter to residents earlier this month informing them of its plans to sell off the housing.
The accommodation currently has 800 places for NHS workers, but this number is expected to be cut by around half.
The trust is also imposing a two-year limit on how long people can live in the accommodation. Those remaining will be charged rent at market rates.
This spells disaster for many of the low paid residents living in the homes. Some have been there for up to 20 years.