- 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.
A leading trade unionist has claimed there are just six months left to prevent the NHS from ending as we know it.
The TUC’s John Lister, Director of Health Emergency, insisted efforts to resist the controversial Health and Social Care Act must be increased before it is too late.
Mr Lister said an “urgent clarion call” is needed to “resist the privatisation, cuts, closures and wage reductions”.
He said that the Act aims to “fragment the NHS, marketise it, commercialise it and privatise the services that offer profits, while leaving the rest as an underfunded, understaffed shambles.”
Despite being at the heart of the health reforms, Mr Lister claims that GPs “will be in the hot seat for future cutbacks.” “In reality all of these plans are cash-driven, cynical efforts to meet Lansley’s £20bn target for ‘efficiency savings’,” he said.
The activist has now called for a “firm rejection of the Act” by union members, increased publicity to raise “public alarm” over the proposed reforms and a planned demonstration as a “landmark” to “highlight the lethal threat the coalition poses to the health service.”
“We need to get people aware, angry, campaigning and reclaiming our NHS before the private sector reclaims the bits they have wanted since 1948 and dumps the rest into permanent crisis,” he said.
Commenting on the appointment of the new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Mr Lister added that Andrew Lansley’s replacement has “all of the neoliberal politics” of his predecessor but “none of his declared attachment to the NHS”.
“He has made none of Lansley’s conciliatory gestures and promises to GPs during the progress of the Bill through Parliament and will no doubt find all of its worst proposals most congenial,” he said.
“His appointment as part of a rightward lurch by Cameron seems likely to result in accelerating the implementation of the Bill, while no doubt briefly diverting the energies of the British Medical Association and others who will feel obliged to give him the benefit of the doubt for a few weeks, wasting a bit more time before recognising the need to crank up the fight.”
By Francesca Robinson
The TUC has voted to ’strongly’ resist moves to introduce regional pay into the NHS after a debate led by hospital consultants.
Regional pay would lead to a cut in take home pay, Eddie Saville general secretary of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, told the trade union movement’s annual conference in Brighton.
After years of pay freezes and an attack on their pensions, this latest development had driven consultant morale down to an all time low. “Hospital consultants tell me that some may opt to go early, some have even said they will leave the UK altogether,” said Saville.
In the South West, 20 NHS trusts have formed a pay cartel which has drawn up a package of 28 proposals which include cuts to on-call payments for consultants, slashing time for supporting professional activities by 80% and reducing sick pay and annual leave entitlements.
“Regional pay means two hospital consultants or specialists with the same experience and same skills doing the same job but getting different levels of pay simply because they work and live in different parts of the country.
South West NHS trusts proposing to introduce regional pay and conditions have been accused of being “short-sighted” and making plans to “undermine the national ethos of the NHS”.
The British Medical Association (BMA) said the 20 trusts in the region which plan to fix the pay, terms and conditions of health workers in the South West would also waste resources and could make it harder for some areas to recruit high-quality staff. Proposals put forward include cutting pay and increasing hours.
In a new paper, the BMA describes the measures as “short-sighted”, saying they could lead to demoralised staff and an increase in regional variations in quality of care.
Dr Mark Porter, chairman of council at the BMA, said: “If this initiative is allowed to go ahead, other regions are likely to follow suit, taking us further away from a truly national health service. We do not want to see skills drain away from certain areas of the country, particularly in more remote regions.
“This is a distraction from serious attempts to address the massive financial challenges facing the NHS.
“Instead of wasting resources on short-term measures for which there is no evidence, and that will only serve to demoralise staff, we should focus on ways to genuinely improve efficiency and quality.”
A THIRD of GPs believe that health authorities are rationing NHS treatments because of costs, according to a survey.
Despite orders not to limit services, 35 per cent of general practitioners said that primary care trusts are restricting access to a number of treatments.
The poll, conducted by GP Magazine among 682 GPs, found that primary care trusts are rationing operations for hernia, joint replacement and varicose veins.
There were also restrictions on fertility treatments – such as IVF – and tonsillectomies, and access to some drugs.
GPs believe that health commissioners are also raising thresholds so most patients are not eligible for treatment, the magazine suggests.
In June, it emerged that pressure to save money had left 90 per cent of primary care trusts restricting certain procedures, including hip, knee and cataract operations and weight-loss surgery.
Health professionals warned today that the quality of care given to HIV sufferers may plummet after Tory NHS “reforms” take effect next year.
The British HIV Association revealed that two-thirds of its members are worried the changes ushered in by the Health and Social Care Act will fragment services provided to patients.
From April 2013 commissioning will be split between the NHS Commissioning Board responsible for HIV treatment and local authorities, which will commission sexual health and genito-urinary medicine services including prevention and testing.
Nearly half of health trusts ration operations, with many turning patients away unless they can no longer drive, read or recognise their friends.
“We do want to break up the NHS. We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up.” Nick Clegg.
Opponents said the comments about the NHS, in a 2005 interview in the Independent, showed that Mr Clegg had no understanding of the way the health service works.
In the interview, carried out while Charles Kennedy was leader and two years before Mr Clegg took the job, he said: ‘I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do to make it a more responsive service.’
Asked whether he favoured a Canadian or European-style social insurance system, he said: ‘I don’t think anything should be ruled out. I do think they deserve to be looked at because frankly the faults of the British health service compared to others still leave much to be desired.
‘We will have to provide alternatives about what a different NHS looks like.’
Under a social insurance system, members pay into an insurance scheme, either themselves or through an employer, to guarantee their healthcare. It means that those who pay into a more expensive scheme can get better care.
Under the NHS, however, everyone pays into the same scheme through taxes – and is then guaranteed care that is ‘free at the point of use’.
In the interview, Mr Clegg said ‘defending the status quo’ is no longer an option. Instead, he called on his party to ‘let its hair down’, ‘break a long-standing taboo’ and be ‘reckless’ in its thinking.
‘We do want to break up the NHS,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up. Should the debate be taboo? Of course not, absolutely not.’
A year earlier, Mr Clegg had contributed to the notorious Orange Book in which those on the right of the party discussed how policies should change under Mr Kennedy’s leadership. The conclusion of the book outlines in more detail the type of insurance scheme he was outlining.
‘The NHS is failing to deliver a health service that meets the needs and expectations of today’s population,’ it said.
John Lister, of the lobby group Health Emergency, said: ‘These comments show Mr Clegg does not understand the NHS. He seems to be ignorant of the fact that social insurance schemes in Europe are far more expensive.’
Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘The NHS is one of Britain’s most loved institutions. People will be worried that Nick Clegg wants to “break it up”.’ [!!! That’s Andrew Lansley pretending that the NHS is safe in Tory hands before the election !!!]
What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-known Orange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.
Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.
Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.
The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.