Lansley is responsible for the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently passing into law, having been voted through by the Tories and Lib Dems, despite the legislation not being in either manifesto, and David Cameron having said that there would be no top down reform of the NHS.
Already the vultures are circling, with Virgin Health and Serco picking up contracts to run NHS services. The cap on private patients in NHS hospital has been raised to 49% and the responsibility for the provision of healthcare services has been removed from the Secretary of State for Health (they now only have to “promote” healthcare services – creating the legal space for the complete privatisation of our healthcare, and the reduction of the NHS to a brand or insurance provider).
Lansley has vetoed the release of the risk register, which examines potential problems with the legislation. This is despite court orders to release it as the information is in the public interest so we can better understand the effect that the changes will have on our healthcare.
Has this been blocked because it reveals that patient care will suffer, as it has for dialysis patients in Birmingham following the outsourcing of the service, or because it reveals the huge risk of healthcare companies going bust, like Southern Cross did in social care – leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill.
Are they refusing to release it because it shows that the cost of health care will spiral as we hand money over to shareholders in the form of profits, and as administrative costs rise. In the USA, they pay more than twice as much per person for healthcare as we do.
The NHS is the most efficient healthcare system in the world, with among the best patient outcomes. It is not perfect, and can be improved. We need to examine how we can pay for rising healthcare costs associated with an aging population and with ever increasing medical knowledge that finds new treatments. But every single NHS workers organisation – all the doctors and nurses that deliver healthcare – are against the bill, repeatedly calling for it to be withdrawn in its entirety.
These reforms are not the right way to go – moving towards a privatised healthcare system modeled on the expensive and ineffective US model of private insurance with minimal state provided cover.
Join us on Tuesday to continue the fight for the NHS. The bill has not yet passed into law, though the changes it creates are already being implemented. We can make this issue the coalition’s Poll Tax, and reverse the changes that have been made before consulting with NHS workers about how to change the NHS for the better, and not in order to line the pockets of private companies and consultancies like McKinsey.