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THE health service is heading for disaster as ConDems plan "the biggest gamble with the nation's health", it was claimed yesterday.

Health experts and unions united yesterday in their condemnation of the coalition's health reforms, predicting long waits for operations, queue-jumping private patients and GP surgeries in disarray.

The TUC heard speaker after speaker reveal grass-roots opposition to the plans as well as details of the devastating impact they are having on patients.

The attacks on the health White Paper came as doctors reported fierce opposition to plans to hand GPs control of a massive part of the health budget. The reforms will allow private healthcare companies to grab lucrative elements of the NHS and profitability will dictate standards of care, they claimed.

"The White Paper amounts to a wholesale attack on the NHS," said Lillian Macer of Unison.

"If you were a hospital chief executive faced with the prospect of going bust and faced with dwindling cash reserves, would you treat a free patient first?

"You'd get as much cash from paying patients as possible and only then turn to the poor relations. This is what happens when competition is put before care." Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has pledged that budgets will not be cut and that efficiency savings of pounds 15bn and pounds 20bn by 2014 will be re-invested.

Lesley Mercer of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, said the reforms were "the equivalent of floating the NHS on the Stock Exchange and sitting back to see what happens".

Karen Reay, health officer for Unite, said: "Decisions on hip replacements at your hospital could be made by a company in the US Mid-West." A report by the Royal College of General Practitioners revealed that its members believe establishing GP consortia would take clinicians away from front-line services and present a golden opportunity for the private sector.

"Once again, GPs are telling the Government that they don't want these reforms," said Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham. "GPs are saying that the White Paper will divert resources from patient care, create a postcode lottery and represent the break-up of the NHS.

"GPs don't want to be the purseholders - they want to be advocates for their patients."

A THIRD of adult admissions to hospital are malnourished, the British Dietetic Association will tell conference.


EVERY minute of every day, the NHS changes lives for the better, from life-saving surgery to a comforting squeeze of the hand.

But now it is heading for meltdown in the ConDems' blast furnace of "progress", fuelled by a zeal for private profits. Longer waiting lists, lack of provision for children and the old, and crucial decisions made by balance sheet.

It is a nightmare waiting to happen. The NHS is not without fault. Its bureaucracy needs a shake-up but that does not mean it should be remodelled as a tool of corporate greed.

It is up to every one of us to fight to keep the NHS we know and love. Nye Bevan, one of the midwives of the service, said on its birth in 1948: "Healthcare will be provided on clinical need and not on ability to pay."

We must ensure those words do not become an epitaph.


VISION Nye Bevan
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Sep 15, 2010
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