Wednesday 7 December 2011

BMA Inside Story: NHS privatisation is the main reason why BMA are opposing the Health and Social Care Bill

The BMA has just released a briefing about why it has decided to abandon the bill. The key statement is the following:
"The BMA has a single objective in relation to the Bill - which is for it to be abandoned"

The proposers of the motion that lead to this change in BMA policy were Dr Jacky Davis and Dr David Wrigley. They are crystal clear in their reasons for proposing such a motion and have stated that it was because "the bill will clearly lead to increasing NHS privatisation and marketisation, and the Govermment will not compromise on these aims"
This is a particularly important motion, because as I have explained in my previous blogpost, the government have repeatedly denied that there will be NHS privatisation. This motion shows that the BMA does not believe the misleading claims of Government.
It is time the public were informed that this bill is a NHS privatisation bill and that is one of the key purposes of Bevan's Run.
Dr Lucy Reynolds, a former accountant and now a research fellow in health policy at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, couldn't have put it more clearly, when she stated:
“I used to work as a City accountant in the 1980s. I know a privatisation Bill when I see one. This is a privatisation Bill”.

The Health and Social Care Bill is a complicated, incoherent mess in terms of health policy. However, it actually makes perfect sense in terms of the Government's supply side economic policy, where the aim is to replace large swathes of the public sector with the private sector. It is a very clever piece of legislation. The key policies that will deliver this are the mutually reinforcing policies of choice and competition, Any Qualified Provider (AQP), payment by results (PbR), patient held budgets, Foundation Trust freedom and abolition of private patient cap, and crucially the "abdication" of the Secretary of State's duties and powers to provide a comprehensive service. This is why the bill is unamendable. These key policies are the red lines on both sides, but the Coalition Government has the majority in the Commons and the Lords. There can be only one winner and this is why the NHS is in such grave danger.

So those who care about the NHS as a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable healthcare service must continue the fight against this bill and apply as much pressure to the political class as possible. The key is to inform the public that the Government is privatising the NHS. This is what the Tories and Lib Dems fear most. NHS campaigners need to call for a united front from the key NHS stakeholders, who need to show the courage to back the BMA on this issue. This united professional front is the only possible way to inform and help the public understand what is happening to their NHS. If we continue along the line of “trying to make the best of it”, the NHS will be destroyed by Lansley's market.

Bevan's Run is about uniting professional opposition to the bill and raising public awareness about this anti-NHS bill.
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  1. I don't think the public are persuaded that public provision of the NHS is important. They see this as an issue which only affects the staff. There is a minority who think its very important but most of them seem to campaign by invoking a former golden age. Will a campaign to get the public to choose public providers over private providers get anywhere?

  2. As doctors we understand it implicitly, but it's REALLY hard to explain it to patients. I try saying "how would you like a percentage of your income tax, instead of going to the NHS, going to a collection of limited companies?". But remember, average IQ is 100 and most of the public are totally clueless about what's happening. Any suggestions much appreciated.

  3. Try telling you patients that there will be a two tier service - one for privately paying patients (who will be taking up beds and resources which once went to the NHS) and one cut down bucket shop bargain basement service for everyone else. Providers will answer to shareholders and their demand for profit rather than the secretary of state. The wealthy will become over medicalised as the search for profits grows ever more voracious while the uninsured provision will dwindle. Sound familiar? It should, it's called America - welcome to hell.