Thursday, 10 November 2011

NHS: Stealth Privatisation Nobody Voted For

Royal Berks Hospital: Rebuilt by Labour
Labour transformed the NHS.

Over 13 years in government more doctors and nurses were employed, waiting times were reduced, treatment was improved for millions of people and hospitals were rebuilt, including the Royal Berkshire Hospital here in Reading.

Now the Tories and Lib Dems are making a mess of the NHS. With Labour's guarantees scrapped, there is already a big difference:
  • Routine operations are being delayed and cancelled
  • Waiting times for treatment, guaranteed at less than 18 weeks by Labour, are now getting steadily longer
  • Nurses at the Royal Berkshire Hospital are having their pay cut by £600 a year
And Conservative ministers backed by the Lib Dems are desperate to press on with changes to the NHS that are opposed by most doctors, nurses and health organisations.

Remember when David Cameron promised "no top down reorganisation of the health service" - yet his government has now embarked on the biggest top down reorganisation since the NHS was established.
We've always known that we couldn't trust the NHS with the Tories, but now we've seen the Lib Dems eagerly support these changes too.

Their changes mean "privatisation by stealth" for much of the NHS. Private health companies will be able to poach the profitable services they want to run, leaving hospitals like the RBH struggling to run the bits which money can't be made, like intensive care units, A&E services, emergency cover, geriatric medicine and care for the terminally ill.

These changes will cost around £2Billion to implement at a time when operations are being cancelled and nurses' pay being cut.

In the face of public opposition the Conservatives have made cosmetic changes, but the main thrust - to bring a market of privatised services - is still at the heart of their plans. In the end, the Lob Dems voted to back the Tories.

I have no doubt that local people overwhelmingly oppose the Coalition's proposals to break up the NHS. Nobody voted for this. Nobody got the chance to - because if the Conservatives or Lib Dems had the guts to put this in their election manifestos Mr Cameron wouldn't be Prime Minister today.

(image: getreading.co.uk)

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