Friday 10 February 2012

Reason #3 why the NHS bill should be dropped

We live in a democracy and the way this Bill has been handled is thoroughly undemocratic.

The Government is sitting on a risk register of its NHS reforms and refuses to publish it until after the Lords have debated the bill. The Government has logged an appeal against a decision by the Information Commissioner that this document must be in the public domain. The lengthy appeal process means the information will only be released after the Bill becomes law. How can anyone debate the merits of a huge change in the NHS without all the information to hand? Unsurprisingly there is an early day motion signed by 75 MPs and counting demanding that this information be released. According to a Labour Party member, the risk analysis warns that the reformed NHS will become unaffordable due to a huge 'surge' in costs. No wonder Lansley is adament no one should read it.

Just as concerning, the reforms are already being enacted across the country before the Bill has even passed. I've posted on this before, but in short the Bill looks to give GP commissioning powers and open up the NHS to'any willing provider' (although this has recently been amended to 'any qualified provider'). Health Secretary Lansley believes that 97% of the country is now already covered by GP commissioning and current Primary Care Trusts are tendering out health contracts to 'alternative providers' (i.e. private companies). This has all happened while the Bill was officially 'paused' by David Cameron. It is unacceptable that any elected Government enacts controversial reforms without the approval of an elected parliament. There is also the glaring fact that these reforms do not have an electoral mandate as they did not figure in either Liberal Democrats or Tory party election manifestos.

The Coalition is twisting the processes of democracy to suit its own ends - I would hate the Health Bill to set a dangerous precedent.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Reason #2 why the NHS bill should be dropped: Winterbourne scandal

Today three staff from Winterbourne care home appeared in court to admit abuse of their patients. The case came to light after a shocking Panorama documentary expose of appalling abuse at the care home.

The care home had previously been inspected three times by the Care Quality Commission and deemed to provide acceptable care - even more shockingly it failed to act on three emails it received from a highly qualified nurse who used to work at the home warning of the abuse at the unit. The CQC clearly failed in this instance and allowed Winterbourne's vulnerable patients suffering to continue.

Why is this relevant to the NHS?

The CQC will have its powers widened under the NHS bill, giving it "sole responsibility for registration against essential standards of quality and safety" of private providers looking to deliver NHS care. In short this means the CQC will check whether private companies provide decent and safe care and treatment. Last year the CQC cut its inspections by 70%. It has just 900 inspectors to cover 18,000 care homes, 8,000 GP practices, 400 NHS hospital trusts, 9,000 dental practices and, in addition, every future new NHS provider.

Given what happened at Winterbourne, it is clear that the CQC is already struggling to cope in its role, do you trust them to ensure that private providers are really up to scratch?

Wednesday 8 February 2012

Reason #1 why the NHS bill should be dropped

Under the NHS bill currently being debated in the House of Lords, provisions have been made that allow all NHS hospitals to allocate 49% of their beds to private patients. Which means waiting lists will automatically double in length and us lot who are already over-stretched paying bills and can't afford private healthcare, will be at the back of the queue.

Makes a mockery of Lansley's recent demands that hospitals get their waiting lists under control!

I'll post reason a day that the NHS bill is a disaster while it is being debated in the House of Lords.