- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
After minimal amendments, and in the face of continued public opposition, Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill has passed through its third and final reading in the House of Commons.
The public sector workers’ union, Unison, has described the bill as causing “huge damage to patient care and [wasting] vast sums of public money. The plans will turn the NHS into a business where our taxes will increasingly pay for profit-driven companies to provide our health care.”
But it is not just the trade unions that are worried about this bill becoming law. The British Medical Association doctors’ organisation has explained that they “believe that the government’s reform plans pose an unacceptably high risk to the NHS, threatening its ability to operate effectively and equitably, now and in the future” due to a continued “inappropriate and misguided reliance on ‘market forces’ to shape services.”
The changes put forward in the bill represent the most fundamental attack on the NHS in its 63-year history. The bill’s implementation would mean there would no longer be a guarantee that necessary services be provided by the NHS, but only that services will be provided by “Any Qualified Provider”.
It would move the legal duty to provide health care away from the Health Secretary to local commissioners. It would mean the complete abolition of Primary Care Trusts. It would push all NHS Trusts into Foundation Trusts, breaking up the very idea of a national health services.
Clearly this bill must continue to be opposed, along with all the cuts and privatisations within the NHS.
The BMA has refused to rule out industrial action over pensions after trade unions warned that government cuts could trigger the biggest strikes in a generation.
By Nick Bostock
As many as three million public sector workers could take part in industrial action on 30 November after leading unions announced plans to ballot their members over strikes.
A BMA spokeswoman said: ‘Our preferred way forward is still to reach an agreement with the government through negotiation, and industrial action is a last resort.
‘We’re in close contact with the other health unions, and as a group we’ll be looking at all issues relating to the negotiations, including the possibility of industrial action in the event that talks fail to make progress.
‘It doesn’t necessarily follow that a decision to take action by another NHS union means the BMA will take the same action.