Neoliberal Takeover of NHS Begins
It has begun. Using slashed public spending as a precursor and an excuse, the corporate whores in Whitehall are dismantling the NHS piece by piece and handing it to the private healthcare industry.
Under the proposals published in Health and Social Care Bill yesterday:
* GPs will become responsible for “buying” care from hospitals and will form consortiums to do so.
* Every hospital will be given independence from the Department of Health and will be allowed to fail and will be taken over by private operators if its books don’t balance.
* A body called the Care Quality Commission will be responsible for standards in every part of the NHS with regular inspections and powers to shut down services.
* The hospital regulator, Monitor, will have its role expanded. It will decide how much a hospital gets paid for treatments, license providers and “promote competition”.
* Local “HealthWatch” organisations in each region will ensure the views of patients, carers and the public are represented.
* GPs will receive a “quality premium” – a proportion of practice income (yet to be decided) linked to outcomes for patients and how well finances are managed.
What will it mean for hospitals?
The change for hospitals is no less profound. All hospitals will be given independence from Whitehall and become Foundation Trusts. They will be allowed to run their own affairs – but if they are not efficient they will lose money and be taken over. There will be no cap on the number of private patients they can treat. Private companies will also be able to compete for NHS patients – and could even take over NHS hospitals.
This isn’t about patient care. It isn’t about efficiency or cutting costs. This is about the corporatist government of Britain keeping its side of the bargain with the private healthcare industry, a healthcare industry that has poured £750,000 into the Tory party since Cameron became leader.
Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right. Nevertheless, the NHS is being turned into a market just like our publically-owned forests. Britain is becoming a corporatocracy at a worrying pace. This evisceration of Britain’s ‘jewel in the crown’ of democratic, equal-opportunity public services must be resisted by all those who care about Britain and its people.