THE real and genuine concerns expressed at the Liberal Democrat conference about the perceived domination of the private sector in health care, if steps are not taken to make fundamental changes to the Bill as it goes through Parliament, prompted me to compare such comments with the very up-beat presentation of the health service changes at a recent conference in Hastings entitled ‘Closer to Home 2011 NHS – national and local context’.
While there would seem to be much to commend the proposals in the NHS White Paper, the underlying threat of private sector ‘cherry picking’ the least complicated and most financially advantageous cases leaving the NHS to deal with what is left over, cannot be in the best interests of patients, which is after all what the Secretary of State keeps telling us is the main aim of the changes.
Andrew Lansley’s insistence that market forces are already at work in the NHS and that the new plans will provide safeguards to prevent private sector domination, does not seem to have satisfied either Liberal Democrat concerns, or indeed those of the BMA.
Fortunately there is the opportunity to make the changes that would seem essential to the future wellbeing of the NHS, and all those who have the opportunity, determination and commitment to make sure that cast iron safeguards are written into the new Bill, need to combine their efforts for the benefit of their fellow human beings.
GP consortia may indeed be best placed to understand the needs of their patients, but there must be doubt about their ability, or even in some cases perhaps, their desire to ensure fair and open competition.
Major changes can ensure that we hold on to the best of what is proposed for the NHS, and not only throw out the worst – but make absolutely sure that it cannot creep back in.
PAM BROWN, OBE