Saturday, 4 February 2012
Why Patients Are Not Objecting To The Health Bill
There is a some bemusement from clinicians as to why the public - patients - are not objecting to the health bill. As a patient with a long term condition, I will explain why.
NHS patients treat the NHS like mains-supplied water. When you need it, it is there. Turn the tap on, and the water flows. Go to your doctor and get treated. You don't have to think how either is provided. You don't think about how it is funded. (Even people on metered water don't think: flushing this toilet will cost me 1p.) You know it is there and you use it when you need it.
And that is exactly how it should be.
But it will change under the Health and Social Care Bill.
The problem is that when fundamental changes are suggested, like with the Bill, patients do not understand the issues, because they should not need to understand the issues, they just want to be assured that when they go to their doctor they will get treated. And this vital, and deeply held belief that the NHS is always there for them, is too ingrained for patients to ever countenance that it may be at risk. Yet it is.
If a politician issues a platitude like "no decision about me, without me" patients will take that as reassurance. The deeply held view that the NHS will always be there for them means that patients do not demand from the politician that there is a guarantee that all the care they need will be provided. And they should do, because the whole point of the Bill is to remove that guarantee.
Sir David Nicholson's announcement that CCGs will be allowed to provide only the services that they want to provide and not what their patients need, should have resulted in an outcry from patients. Yet there was none.
Lansley's weak and ineffectual attempt to get private clinics to act responsibly and remove the substandard PIP implants that they had used should have been a warning to patients that the same will happen when unaccountable private providers are introduced to the NHS. Yet there was no outcry from patients.
Patients assume that the NHS will always provide for them. They cannot believe that the politicians they have elected could possibly bring in a system that will remove their access to some treatments. Similarly, you could never believe that you'll be in the situation that when you turn on the tap there's a chance that nothing will come out. We assume the tap will always provide water and we assume the NHS will always provide care.
Patients believe that the NHS will always be there for them: and that is how it should be. This deeply held belief is the reason why patients are not objecting to a Bill that will result in an NHS that is no longer there for them.