A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
Over half of doctors oppose the government’s NHS reforms, according to a survey from the British Medical Association (BMA).
Research compiled by Ipsos Mori found that 89% of doctors thought the measures would lead to a fragmentation of services, while 65% said the quality of patient care would be reduced as a result.
A further two-thirds of doctors said they believed the reforms would increase health inequalities.
The vast majority of doctors fear the risks of controversial NHS reform plans outweigh the potential benefits, a poll reveals today.
The survey of 1,600 doctors found 89 per cent believed increased competition would fragment services and two-thirds said it would reduce the quality of patient care.
Two-thirds also said giving control of £80bn in NHS spending to GPs would increase health inequalities and 60 per cent feared they would spend less time with patients.
The cutbacks have prompted warnings that services will suffer and patients put at risk.
At least 20 trusts have reduced their budgets for doctors to visit patients in the evenings and at weekends by a total of £4million.
The cuts in after-hours budgets led to warnings of a repeat of the case of Daniel Ubani, the incompetent German locum who killed a Cambridgeshire man with a morphine overdose in 2008.
Nearly nine out of ten doctors think increasing competition in the NHS will lead to services being fragmented, according to a poll.
Some 65 per cent believe competition between providers, including NHS and private companies, will reduce the quality of patient care, while 61 per cent think the Government’s reforms mean they will spend less time with patients.
Most doctors believe NHS reforms will lead to increased competition but only one in five think they will improve care.
I have hazy memories of my parents getting their first telephone. It was the late 1960s, and telecommunications was a public service. There was a waiting list but, in time, we got to the head of the queue. An engineer from the General Post Office installed the necessary equipment and we were connected – or at least, connected any time our neighbours weren’t using their phone: ours was a “party line”. I don’t recall any grumbles about the tortuousness of the process, nor about having to share with the people next door. The sense of wonder at what was now possible must have mitigated any frustration. It was marvellous to be able to speak to relatives and friends from the comfort of home, without having to trudge to the phone box.
The National Health Service was viewed in much the same way. My father developed cancer when I was two years old. He was swiftly cured but irrevocably damaged, and he struggled thereafter with chronic ill-health. His illnesses had knock-on effects on various members of our family, myself included. Between us we saw a lot of the NHS. At the centre of it (to my eyes) was our GP, a good-hearted man with half-moon glasses and a somewhat distant manner. When he needed expert assistance, a referral would be made. Waiting times were sometimes long but were accepted with stoicism: the professionals we eventually saw did their best. Looking back, I recognise the profound comfort in those experiences for my parents, who had grown up knowing what medical care could be like – and its financial implications – before the advent of the NHS. No matter how threatening or scary things got, no matter what time of day or night, this health service was there to help and asked nothing in return.
In the mid-1980s, I entered medical school in Nottingham. Like most aspiring doctors, I knew what I was going to be: a public servant, working extremely long and often antisocial hours, the whole arduous endeavour sustained by a powerful sense of doing something important and worthwhile. I would be joining an unquestionable force for good, grouped under the fluttering blue-and-white standard of the NHS.