Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Health Bill isn’t the death of the NHS, but it will delay recovery.

As expected, the controversial Health and Social Care Bill is now set to become law within the next few weeks. The UK press have sensed that the public are fairly bored with the protracted political wranglings and in the wake of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s budget announcements yesterday, the Health bill passed the finishing line with little ceremony.

Only one newspaper, Daily Mirror, seemed to prioritise the story and dedicated its front page to the NHS reforms with a picture of a tombstone headline ‘RIP NHS 1948 – 2012’

As Mark Twain (very much alive at the time) said after seeing his obituary prematurely published ‘Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated’, this is not the death of the NHS. But it’s certainly not very well. The comedian Spike Milligan’s grave stone reads ‘I told you I was ill’ (really – it does!) and this would have been a more appropriate headline for any newspaper. It isn’t competition that will do the most harm, it’s giving GPs too much money, too much responsibility and too much power. It’s ignoring the importance of quality nursing care and the value of performance based targets for both staff and clinical regimes. It’s the loss of priceless expertise in Strategic Health Authorities and Primary Care Trusts and introducing new layers of beaurocracy, despite claims to the contrary.

We know that it’s not just the patients in our hospitals and health centres who need treatment, we know that the health system needs fixing. No-one argues with this fact. This Bill won’t kill the NHS but although Andrew Lansley’s diagnosis was right, his recommended treatment and his unrealistic prognosis is way off course.


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