Tuesday, 23 November 2021

The Tories' heavily-criticised Health and Care Bill would undo reforms introduced by David Cameron in 2012 and somehow make things even worse. The bill is officially supposed to end the ridiculous idea of market competition in our NHS, which sounds like a good thing, but in reality, the market is going to be allowed into our NHS through the back door.

Let me explain:

The government wants to introduce 42 Integrated Care Partnerships which would invite charities and private health companies to work with local councils. They would take the place of over 100 Clinical Commissioning Groups which currently allocate NHS resources, and would decide which treatments local hospitals do or don't offer, based on what they feel is more cost effective, i.e., more profitable for share holders. It would also allow them to ration healthcare and charge for "secondary services".

This is obviously not prioritising patients' needs and would introduce a post code lottery where the treatment you receive is dependent on where you live. It would also enable private companies to prioritise patients who are willing and able to pay over those who can't - essentially creating a two-tier NHS. During a pandemic. It's almost like the government has learned the exact opposite lessons to what it was supposed to learn.

To make matters worse, the bill includes the removal of the tendering process so the Tories can just give out NHS contracts to their mates without any scrutiny. Now I don't want private contracts to exist at all, but if you are going to have them, you should, at the very least, have a proper vetting process. No reasonable person could disagree with this point, but, of course, the Tories are not reasonable people. 

"Integrated" appears to be the new word for cronyism...

Of course, many concerns could easily be alleviated through simple amendments to the bill, but the Tories actually blocked an amendment to prevent private healthcare representatives from sitting on NHS boards, because, of course, they did!

As many have pointed out, this is nothing more than a power grab by Sajid Javid, because the bill would give the health secretary direct control over many aspects of our health service. It would also give the health secretary the power to water down the requirement for staff to be properly trained and qualified, potentially putting public safety at risk. The bill offers nothing to ease the mammoth staffing crisis, other than corner cutting.

The Health and Care Bill boils down to backdoor NHS privatisation and a situation where poorer patients will inevitably be marginalised. It's just another step towards the dismantling of our nation's most prized institution. If this bill passes in the House of Lords, it's entirely plausible we won't even have an NHS in ten years' time.

And we haven't even mentioned social care yet. 

Government proposals mean those with assets between £20,000 and £100,000 will have to pay for their social care. This means working class home owners will be forced to sell their homes and therefore unable to leave their one asset to their children who have been frozen out of the housing market. I can't help thinking Jeremy Corbyn's National Care Service, which involved not stealing houses, might have been a better idea.

When you really think about it, it's truly absurd that social care isn't provided universally under the NHS, and the same goes for dentistry and eye care. Who actually decided these things don't count as healthcare?