- 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.
Today’s NHS news review makes clear that the Lib-Dem-Conservative – the ConDems – coalition government’s brutal attack on the NHS continues apace.
More patients are going private because the NHS is increasingly cutting back on providing a range of treatments.
GPs believe the numbers of patients asking about paying for operations including cataract removal and joint replacements has increased markedly in the last year, according to a poll.
Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said it was “incontrovertible” that increased NHS rationing was behind the increase in going private, a trend she described as “very sad”.
The poll, carried out by ComRes for the firm BMI Healthcare, found that 70 per cent of GPs are now unable to refer a patient for further treatment on the NHS at least once a month because they do not qualify under local criteria.
Primary care trusts (PCTs) have increasingly been restricting access to treatments including cataract removals, hernia operations and hip and knee replacements, by raising the threshold of how ill or disabled a patient has to be.
A quarter (24 per cent) said they themselves were now more likely to raise the possibility with patients, compared to only three per cent who said they were less likely to do so.
The principal reason behind increased interest in “self-pay” healthcare is treatments no longer being available on the NHS, according to the poll, with 66 per cent of GPs citing this.
Furthermore, 56 per cent thought patients were considering self-pay more because NHS waiting times had increased.
Dr Mark Ferreira, medical development director of BMI Healthcare, said: “As this survey shows, patients are being forced to consider how they will be treated and how they will pay for their healthcare.”
Only outsourcing to the private sector can save the NHS and other public services, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).
A report commissioned by the CBI estimated that outsourcing of public services could save the Government £22.6bn a year by enabling adoption of more efficient business methods.
CBI Director General John Cridland said the report proved that for UK public services “business as usual is not an option”.
He criticised the coalition Government for failing to deliver on the policies of its 2011 white paper Open Public Services, which promised rapid privatisation.
Thirty-nine organisations have expressed interest in taking over all or part of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, the first trust to have the failure regime applied to it.
Earlier this year special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, invited public and private organisations to express interest in running it.
HealthInvestor can reveal that organisations that have expressed interest include Oxleas Foundation Trust, Serco and Virgin Care.
A spokesman for the Office of the Trust Special Administrator said: ‘The market engagement exercise carried out by the Trust Special Administrator has now come to an end. There have been 39 responses received and these are being reviewed against the criteria set for this process which have been developed to ensure possible recommendations deliver safe, high quality, affordable and sustainable health services for the people of south east London.’
“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.