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NHS Reform: Are GPs Being Protectionist?

Posted on the 08 February 2012 by Periscope @periscopepost
NHS reform: Are GPs being protectionist?

Andrew Lansley. Fair Game? Photocredit: NHS Confederation

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s bill for the National Health Service is coming under much scrutiny. The Health and Social Care bill is intended to reorganise the way that healthcare is provided in Britain. People have called for Lansley’s resignation; Lord Owen wants the entire bill shelved. It’s going back to the House of Lords now, with 130 amendments. The proposals aim to cut bureaucracy, give more power to GPs, and increase competition with the private sector.

It will entail 24,000 management staff being cut, abolish England’s 152 primary care trusts, and make GPs responsible for buying in patient care. A new NHS commissioning board will oversee the process. GPs will form consortiums that will control 80 percent of the NHS budget. Services will be bought from all three sectors (public, private and charity.) The bill is causing much comment as GPs are being accused of protectionism, and Andrew Lansley is accused of incompetence. One unnamed source from Downing Street allegedly said he should be taken out and shot; but Number 10 later denied the comment.

“The Prime Minister backs Andrew Lansley and he backs the reforms we are pushing through Parliament in order to deliver a better health service for the future,” said a Downing Street source, quoted on The Daily Mail.

Give Lansley a chance! Lord Tebbit in The Daily Telegraph was firmly behind his old private secretary Lansley, and said that the NHS is “one of our great institutions.” Tampering with it is like playing with dynamite. Whilst it has its good points, it is also full of failures and neglect. The NHS that Lansley’s inherited is “unsustainable.” Money’s been lavished on it – to no observable effect. Lansley has bravely taken on the Labour Party and the self-interested health unions. The NHS is not efficient. What needs to be looked at is the balance between the public and private sector – it needs to be “on a level playing field.” We can’t “wreck the Bill”, though. That would be “irresponsible.” Give Lansley’s reforms a “fair wind.”

“Andrew Lansley is an easy target. There is his perpetual air of hangdog resignation; his knee-jerk retreat into jargonese; his lonely conviction that the Health and Social Care Bill would be basically fine if he was allowed to get on with it. All encourage the beating that is now coming his way with alarming regularity,” said Joey Jones on Sky.

He’s going about it the wrong way. The Times editorial was not behind Lansley, but suggested that work needed to be done. The legislation, said the editorial, is “unnecessary.” What’s good about it could have been done “without legislation.” After the Bill was first announced, the Government has handled its passing very badly: though claiming that they’d listen to amendments, the ones that have been put through haven’t “changed many minds.” Everyone’s opposed to the reforms – even the Royal College of General Practicioners, who are meant to be the “main beneficiary.” But we must differentiate between protectionism from “genuine concerns.” The uniform opposition of these doctors, lead by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, is suspicious. They are against competition. Lansley wants any provider to be able to provide healthcare – but he doesn’t need legislation for this. However, we must defend the idea that competition can make the NHS better.

Doctors need to get on board. The government’s bungled it, said The Independent. Lansley’s been “startling” in his “incompetence”. He’s failed to get the support of the professions. His “single, sprawling piece of legislation” is “ill-considered.” But the NHS does need to be reformed. We can’t just carry on “increasing the health budget.” But we can’t just say “yes or no” to the Health and Social Care Bill. The doctors need to muck in.

Watch out Cameron! The Mirror was firmly against the reforms. This is “an expensive, dangerous shake-up that will undermine our nation’s most cherished institution.” Cameron’s on “a hiding to nothing.” He’s moving on blindly in  ”a toxic mix of pride and ideology creating what may prove to be the biggest mistake of his Downing Street reign. People will recall this broken promise at the next General Election. And Mr Cameron should remember no party can win an election if it threatens the NHS.”


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