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Uk National Health Service Faces Wholesale Privatization

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The Conservative-Liberal Democrat government’s Health and Social Care Bill, introduced to Parliament last Wednesday, aims to dismantle the National Health Service (NHS) and hand over its profitable components to private corporations. It is the continuation of the process of backdoor privatization set in motion across the public sector under the previous Labour government.

For working people who rely on the NHS, it will cause untold suffering and premature death, as universal and comprehensive health care, free at the point of delivery, would ultimately end.

Under the bill, General Practitioner (GP) led consortia will be given responsibility for 80 percent of the £100 billion NHS budget, from which they will commission patient treatment from “any willing provider”. The 152 Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and 10 Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) that currently commission health care will be axed.

A new body, the NHS Commissioning Board, will be able to shut down underperforming consortia, bring in private providers to take over commissioning, and provide financial incentives to GPs and their management teams.

All public hospitals will become NHS Foundation Trusts, ostensibly not-for-profit companies free from direct oversight by the Department of Health, initially brought in by Labour in 2003 to open up the running of public hospitals to private corporations.

Fixed prices for treatments are to be abolished, meaning public hospitals will have to compete on price with private health care firms for business from GP consortia. According to Nicholas Timmins, the public policy editor of the Financial Times, “NHS hospitals will by 2014 be operating as free-standing businesses, without any routine oversight by an independent regulator.”

Monitor, the regulatory body that oversees Foundation Trusts, will be limited to an economic role. It will primarily function to encourage competition between hospitals and regulate prices, while ensuring only a minimum essential service is delivered by hospitals.

Carol Popper, a professor of economics at Imperial College London, warns that price competition will raise “the prospect of two-for-one deals on surgery and cut-price consultations for certain specialties. …At the same time, in order to provide services at these prices, quality suffers,” as GPs are essentially forced to ration care.

The Nuffield Trust, a health care think tank, has voiced concerns that “Patients may wonder whether they will be referred to the best services, and not the hospital which the GP may see as making money for him.”

Nigel Edwards, acting chief executive of the NHS Confederation, has said that “unless a service is designated as protected, it will also be possible for a hospital or other health care providers simply to stop providing a service or operating a site from which it can no longer make money.”

The government cynically claims that GP commissioning will make health care more responsive to local needs, leading to improved “health outcomes” and “patient choice”. In a letter to the Guardian, Oxfordshire GP Dr. Brian Green responded, “Choice is an illusion to foster the market for competing providers. As a GP, I am uncertain of quality differences between my local hospital consultants, let alone those from multiple providers. Patients stand little chance of making rational choices. …GPs will inevitably be guided by health management professionals in their commissioning decisions, which the private sector is eager to exploit.”

The Heath and Social Care Bill is wholly tailored to the interests of private health care firms. An investigation by the Daily Mirror into the funding of the Conservative Party under David Cameron revealed that UK private health firms have contributed £750,000 since 2006.

KPMG, a professional services multinational, has already formed a consortium with other private firms, and has won a contract to develop commissioning management teams across London. Of the 141 initial “pathfinder” consortia, six out of ten are negotiating contracts with private firms for the running of their referrals systems according to a survey by Pulse health care magazine.

Private providers, including Simplyhealth, Bupa and Western Provident Association (WPA), are all developing medical cover plans to exploit areas of the NHS that they predict will be subject to growing waiting times and deteriorating quality. The WPA has rolled out a plan called “NHS Top-up”.

Services available on the NHS have already been heavily curtailed in response to £20 billion in budgetary cuts being imposed by the government, under the guise of “efficiency savings” to be made by 2014-15. According to the Audit Commission, to do this, the NHS will have to increase productivity by 4 percent every year while costs are rising 3 percent a year due to inflation and the aging of the population.

Primary Care Trusts in the north west of England, covering Bury, Oldham, Heywood, Middleton and Manchester, have halted 57 surgical procedures until May, including the removal of hernias, varicose veins, cataracts, gallstones, tonsils, and the replacement of arthritic joints.

The chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson, has indicated that severe staffing shortages are already present, including a 4,500 shortage of midwifes. He indicated that beds for both long-term illness and emergencies would be reduced.

Upon the closure of Primary Care Trusts, around half, or 20,900, of the workforce are to be made redundant and a further 3,600 staff will be dispensed with through natural wastage. It is expected that less than half will be rehired under GP consortia.

The Department of Health has threatened that over 60,000 jobs could go in the NHS across England if employees reject a pay deal, including a two-year pay freeze in return for the promise of no compulsory redundancies. The Nursing Times reported that health pensions will likely be “diluted” to aid “private sector providers”, who “may be deterred from providing NHS services by the ‘advantages’ enjoyed by NHS organizations.”

Against overwhelming opposition in the workforce, the trade unions are working hand in glove with the government to drive through these attacks. A survey by the Nursing Times, covering 1,500 nurses, found that 84 percent of respondents wanted the union to reject the deal; 70 percent said the deal was a “disgrace,” but 42 percent of respondents thought their union representatives would accept the deal regardless.

Mike Jackson, a senior national officer of Unison, the biggest public sector trade union in Britain, said it was too early to reject the proposal outright: “People are very worried about job security. It’s a very big decision.”

However, indicating Unison’s eventual course, he said, “It would be very unusual for unions to accept a first offer.”

For their part, the Royal College of Nursing has already helped to identify 27,000 jobs for the axe, and is enforcing an “efficiency drive” under its “Frontline First Campaign”.

The trade unions and other apologists for New Labour’s right-wing big business agenda are using the bill in an attempt to rehabilitate Labour.

Dave Prentice, general secretary of Unison, said, “Labour has pledged to make the NHS the preferred provider, but the Tories plan to crack the NHS wide open, for the benefit of private health companies and their friends in big business.”

Polly Toynbee wrote in the Guardian criticising “the chaotic free-market hurricane” that the Conservatives are “unleashing on the NHS”, while claiming, “Labour left a high NHS benchmark”.

In reality, Prime Minister David Cameron has openly admitted that the Conservative health reforms make it the heir to the Blair government, criticizing him only for waiting “too long before introducing changes that were necessary”.

Richard Titmuss, professor of social policy at the London School of Economics and senior health policy adviser to Tony Blair, referred to the provisions of the bill as the “logical, sensible extension of those put in place by Tony Blair”. He added, “The commissioner-provider split, payment-by-results, and more choice and competition: all were developed under Mr. Blair, and now extended by the coalition.”

The NHS was a novel idea, unfortunately it is so damn inefficient.

Yes, you WILL be paying for healthcare out of your own pocket.

Once a chink in the armour appears, if what this article say some to fruition, you will see a very quick changeover to American style healthcare quangos and full on corporate run services.

So, get smoking, drinking, and die sooner. Be good to your kids by dying with some riches left.

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The NHS was a novel idea, unfortunately it is so damn inefficient.

Yes, you WILL be paying for healthcare out of your own pocket.

Once a chink in the armour appears, if what this article say some to fruition, you will see a very quick changeover to American style healthcare quangos and full on corporate run services.

So, get smoking, drinking, and die sooner. Be good to your kids by dying with some riches left.

I've no problem with privatized health care in principle. However, the chances of the taxes that previously paid for it being removed are zilch. zippo. nadda.

Edited by Alan B'Stard MP

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The NHS was a novel idea, unfortunately it is so damn inefficient.

Yes, you WILL be paying for healthcare out of your own pocket.

Once a chink in the armour appears, if what this article say some to fruition, you will see a very quick changeover to American style healthcare quangos and full on corporate run services.

So, get smoking, drinking, and die sooner. Be good to your kids by dying with some riches left.

Where do you get the notion it's inefficient? It may not operate at the best efficiency it could achieve, but it's still gives about twice the performance of the US system.

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American health care is the most expensive and yields the worst results.

I remember the wonderful Internal Market the NHS was saddled with in the 80s.

That gave us filthy wards and MRSA.

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Where do you get the notion it's inefficient? It may not operate at the best efficiency it could achieve, but it's still gives about twice the performance of the US system.

You're kidding right?

I'm not talking about what you receive as a patient, just so we're on the same page.

You could cut probably 60% of the middle and upper managers out and it would run exactly the same. Exactly.

Edited by cashinmattress

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You could cut probably 60% of the middle and upper managers out and it would run exactly the same. Exactly.

Isn't that the same for most organisations? Certainly where I work we could reduce what we charge the client and have the time to produce a better quality product.

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American health care [] yields the worst results.

It's actually the best healthcare in the world, it's just expensive.

Hopefully we'll head away from the NHS idea, and towards the system almost every European country uses. Compulsory insurance. The NHS is terrible value for money. I wish I could opt out.

Edited by no accountant

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It's the worst

So take your free market 'efficiencies' and poke em. :)

Best:

As recently published by Investor Business Daily, a survey by the U.N. International Health Organization has reported:

Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis: U.S. 65 percent, Eng-land 46 percent, Canada 42 percent.

Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months: U.S. 93 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months: U.S. 90 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within one month: U.S. 77 percent, England 40 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people: U.S. 71, England 14, Canada 18.

Percentage of seniors (65 and older) with low income who say they are in “excellent health”: U.S. 12 percent, England 2 percent, Canada 6 percent.

The initial conclusion from this report is that the U.S. has the best health care in the world. But cost and availability remain problems.

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So take your free market 'efficiencies' and poke em. :)

Same to you. Take you communist ideals and poke em back to North Korea.

I use Bupa cover and it's fantastic I just wish I didn't have to pay twice for the NHS too, on pain of imprisonment if I fail to pay my horrendously exorbitant taxes that go some way to pay for the 53% of GDP we spend on rubbish public services every year. Even China only spend 23% of GDP and that's meant to be communist. What on earth are we doing??

France has a much better insurance-based system and they only spend 7% of GDP on it.

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You can't post that. It's bunkem. The USA figures are scewed because only a minority are 'diagnosed'. They get diagnosed and hence great treatment because insurance pays for it. For those without insurance, they remain undiagnosed, and either die or live low quality lives. Show me the figures with the whole population presented and I will then shut up and agree. Otherwise it's just the figures of the minority, well heeled.

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I've no problem with privatized health care in principle. However, the chances of the taxes that previously paid for it being removed are zilch. zippo. nadda.

That's because politicians love spending money that isn't theirs.

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You can't post that. It's bunkem. The USA figures are scewed because only a minority are 'diagnosed'. They get diagnosed and hence great treatment because insurance pays for it. For those without insurance, they remain undiagnosed, and either die or live low quality lives. Show me the figures with the whole population presented and I will then shut up and agree. Otherwise it's just the figures of the minority, well heeled.

Granted, but if you want the 'best' in terms of the absolutes, and if you have a good job, then it's the US.

Yes it's inefficient, they spend much more than the UK, but a lot of that is only the nice clean rooms that look that hotel rooms (why not? I pay for a week in a hotel, why not pay extra for a week in a hospital with nice rooms a room service?)

So it's far from the 'worst', in terms of responsiveness and outcomes. In fact the WHO ranked it #1 for responsiveness in 2000. But lower for averages as you say.

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Same to you. Take you communist ideals and poke em back to North Korea.

I use Bupa cover and it's fantastic I just wish I didn't have to pay twice for the NHS too, on pain of imprisonment if I fail to pay my horrendously exorbitant taxes that go some way to pay for the 53% of GDP we spend on rubbish public services every year. Even China only spend 23% of GDP and that's meant to be communist. What on earth are we doing??

France has a much better insurance-based system and they only spend 7% of GDP on it.

I use NHS mainly because Im paying for it anyway, am as fit as a horse and dont need it. Dont think Ive seen a doc in 15 years.

Im not selfish, its a great institution. I want it to do well but without market forces it's existing in a magical bubble that has not place in reality or commercial feasibility. I dont care about life or death, I don't see this as being any more a necessary expense than education, policing or defence.

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Hopefully we'll head away from the NHS idea, and towards the system almost every European country uses. Compulsory insurance. The NHS is terrible value for money. I wish I could opt out.

We already have compulsory insurance - NI. What I dislike is the lack of transparency. If we were told we have to pay for example 7% health insurance and it was ringfenced for health I would be fine with that. If the government tried to force an increase to say 8% they would have to justify exactly why. In that kind of system if people opted out to buy their own care there should be breaks for them - say in my 7% example their contribution could be reduced to 3% to take account of the need for universal provision of acute/emergency/highly specialist services (e.g. burns units).

I think we need the best of both worlds with genuine choice.

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You're kidding right?

I'm not talking about what you receive as a patient, just so we're on the same page.

You could cut probably 60% of the middle and upper managers out and it would run exactly the same. Exactly.

The US government pays more per head of population on healthcare than we do and gets a lot less for the money. There are however other countries in the world that do things much better. For example, France, Germany, Singapore, and no doubt many others.

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Best:

As recently published by Investor Business Daily, a survey by the U.N. International Health Organization has reported:

Percentage of men and women who survived a cancer five years after diagnosis: U.S. 65 percent, Eng-land 46 percent, Canada 42 percent.

Percentage of patients diagnosed with diabetes who received treatment within six months: U.S. 93 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Percentage of seniors needing hip replacement who received it within six months: U.S. 90 percent, England 15 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Percentage referred to a medical specialist who see one within one month: U.S. 77 percent, England 40 percent, Canada 43 percent.

Number of MRI scanners (a prime diagnostic tool) per million people: U.S. 71, England 14, Canada 18.

Percentage of seniors (65 and older) with low income who say they are in “excellent health”: U.S. 12 percent, England 2 percent, Canada 6 percent.

The initial conclusion from this report is that the U.S. has the best health care in the world. But cost and availability remain problems.

And what about working age people who are required to pay for their healthcare, and can't afford it? Note - "patients" means people who go through the door, and therefore have the money to pay for it. "Seniors" means people over 65 who get government funded Medicare cover.

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Where do you get the notion it's inefficient? It may not operate at the best efficiency it could achieve, but it's still gives about twice the performance of the US system.

Don't be ridiculous

Ever been in a US hospital?

I think you will find the attention is the equivalent of a 4 star hotel as opposed to a shabby b&b the NHS has become

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I've no problem with privatized health care in principle. However, the chances of the taxes that previously paid for it being removed are zilch. zippo. nadda.

A lot of people do not realise the full implications of private health care, and many do not realise they would not get health insurance which would be part of master plan if the Torys get thier way.

People need to look into what private health care really entails before they find out it is to late to go back USA is a good example, we have very little to go on as far as private healh care is concerned but one example is that if you are in ill health you are a high risk, just as a bad driver is and your premiums will be high.

A good example of private health care is travel insurance, try getting travel insurance which pays for PRIVATE HEALTH CARE ABROAD if you are ill , you have virtually no chance of getting it if you have had a serious illness in the last couple of years, and if you can you will pay a very large fee.

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Don't be ridiculous

Ever been in a US hospital?

I think you will find the attention is the equivalent of a 4 star hotel as opposed to a shabby b&b the NHS has become

But what percentage of people in the US cannot afford the private health care.?

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Guest The Relaxation Suite

You can't post that. It's bunkem. The USA figures are scewed because only a minority are 'diagnosed'. They get diagnosed and hence great treatment because insurance pays for it. For those without insurance, they remain undiagnosed, and either die or live low quality lives. Show me the figures with the whole population presented and I will then shut up and agree. Otherwise it's just the figures of the minority, well heeled.

Exactly. 60 million people in the US have no healthcare coverage at all. Even the Obama plan is only a re-jigged version of what they already have, with people buying private insurance, etc. Plus don't forget that the GOP will probably win the White House next year and they will have a GOP lower house as well so they will soon shred any healthcare reforms, however weak. The American healthcare system is a disgrace, and millions die every because of it. British do get caught up in it as well but luckily theu can return to the UK and get treatment in Britain, often life-saving.

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So private healthcare firms are going to do well?

The Tories faced a conflict of interest row today after it emerged that Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley had received a £21,000 cash gift from a private health tycoon. New Electoral Commission records show that Mr Lansley's personal office has been donated the cash by John Nash, a private equity chief and chairman of Care UK.

Health Secretary Andy Burnham today demanded that David Cameron explain any links between Tory policy and the private company.

In a draft manifesto published by the Conservatives, the party has promised to “open up the NHS to include new independent and voluntary sector providers” - a move that could hugely benefit Care UK.

The firm is a leading independent provider of health and social care services. It works with councils and primary care trusts to help the operation of NHS Walk-in centres, GP surgeries and treatment centres.

A senior director of the firm has claimed that that 96 per cent its £400 million business comes from the NHS - the very institution of which Mr Lansley will be in charge should the Conservatives win the election

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23795736-shadow-ministers-pound-21000-gift-from-private-health-firm.do

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