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

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

"GPs up against private firms in NHS sell-off of entire care pathways"

Pulse magazine issue an exclusive today that the intention of the government's "Any Willing Provider" policy is designed to privatise care pathways. So far Lansley has been careful to say that AWP is about "patient choice", but the Pulse article shows that the intention is actually to exclude patients and to offer only "integrated pathway hubs" that have been competitively tendered to private contractors.
Dr Steven Laitner, a GP in St Albans and associate medical director at [NHS East of England] SHA, said the plans could deliver 'transformational change' to the NHS. Dr Laitner is shared decision making lead at QIPP Right Care, a Government-backed unit set up to spearhead the NHS’s £20bn savings drive. He told Pulse: "We’ve got support from the Department of Health and are looking to test this model across the country."
This shows that the government intends that the Any Willing Provider policy to be about wholesale privatisation of care pathways. Pulse report:
Ms Parbinder Kaur, project lead for the hubs, said: "The push has come from GPs. They are open to the market coming in with new ideas."  She said a string of meetings with GPs and private providers had shown both had "appetite" for the idea, with the next stage a bidding process for contracts, which are due to go live in April 2012 to fit with the Government's ambitious transition timetable: "It will involve a competitive tender. We expect this to involve a combination of third-sector, independent-sector and NHS providers."

This is completely opposite to the briefing that the government is providing to their MPs which says:

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. 
In other words, the government is telling their MPs that there will be no competitive tendering, but Pulse are reporting that in practice the policy is to competitive tender entire "integrated pathway hubs". This is wholesale privatisation of the NHS.

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