"The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it"
Aneurin Bevan

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Rank Hypocrisy

Last year the government issued all Coalition MPs with a list of stock answers that they could parrot when asked about Lansley's NHS re-organisation. The government listed what they called "myths" and gave the government's response to each. It is now becoming apparent that most of these "myths" are going to happen. Take for example "Myth 6" and "Myth 7":
Myth 6 GP consortia will be forced to use the private sector
It will be up to GP consortia to decide their own arrangements.

Myth 7 Every NHS service will need to be competitively tendered.
Our plans for ‘any willing provider’ are precisely the opposite. Competitive tendering means identifying a single provider to offer a service exclusively. ‘Any willing provider’ means being clear that a service needs to meet NHS standards and NHS costs, and then allowing patients to choose themselves wherever they want to be treated. It is designed to avoid the need for costly tendering processes, unlike Labour’s ‘independent sector treatment centres’.
First, let's address "Myth 7". The government claims that services will not be competitive tendered and that patients will be able to choose "any willing provider". However, we learn today from Pulse that:
"NHS East of England plans to auction off £300m of services to GPs, private companies or a combination of the two, in pathways including respiratory and musculoskeletal medicine."
There is no patient choice at all, once these services have been outsourced patients will have to use them. This is simple, unadulterated privatisation of these services (showing that "Myth 6" is true, GPs will have to use the private sector) through competitive tendering ("Myth 7" is true because these services are being "auctioned off").

GPs are rightly concerned, Pulse reports:

"Dr Brian Balmer, chief executive of Essex LMCs and a GP in Chelmsford, said: ‘A lot of our GP commissioners don't know anything about these plans. The SHA's commercial wing these days is very, very ambitious. They are keen to be the first to do these dramatic things that could see us turn into an American-style health service that we can't afford and that will harm patients.'"

Where are the Coalition MPs who blindly parroted the Coalition line at the beginning of this year? How can they vote for the Health and Social Care Bill at the Report Stage at the beginning of September now that the hypocrisy of the government is abundantly clear?

I have addressed most of these "myths" on my other site NHS Futures (including "Myth 6" and "Myth 7"). 


The government's response to the Future Forum says:

"Therefore, we will outlaw any policy to increase or maintain the market share of any particular sector of provider. This will prevent current or future Ministers, the NHS Commissioning Board or Monitor from having a deliberate policy of encouraging the growth of the private sector over existing state providers – or vice versa."
So if East of England plans to increase the proportion of private sector providers in care pathways, that will contravene the statement to "outlaw any policy to increase or maintain the market share of any particular sector ... prevent ... a deliberate policy of encouraging the growth of the private sector". What is Lansley doing about East of England's auction?

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