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NHS reform: the government wilfully ignores experts

The government is introducing this bill against the advice of experts.

When challenged and asked why they have not accepted the advice of clinicians, the government always claims that clinicians have “vested interests”. This is a shocking slur by the least respected part of our society on the professionalism of the most respected part of our society - and it shows how desperate the government is.

Of course, there are some opponents to the bill who do have vested interests  - the one million patients who visit their GP every day, the 340,000 people who attend outpatient clinics and the 180,000 admitted patients who are currently in hospital. Each and every one of those patients has a vested interest in calling for this bill to be dropped. That's because the bill will lead to less care and less quality care by less accountable organisations.

Healthcare rationing and the profit motive

The government is allowing clinical commissioning groups to decide whether the NHS will pay for treatment - and it will give them annual bonuses if they come under budget. This, and a plan to introduce personal health budgets, will result in healthcare rationing.

The Any Qualified Provider policy is designed to replace NHS providers with profit-making private providers - and we have seen with the PiP breast implant scandal that these companies put profit before quality. The government is removing its own responsibility for providing quality healthcare and will replace NHS providers with completely unaccountable, here-today-gone-tomorrow, private providers. Again - see how clinics like the Harley Medical Group in the PiP scandal have shirked their responsibility to patients.

This bill frightens me because it will not give me better care. Quite the opposite. It will restrict the care I get and lead to top-ups, co-pay and ultimately the health insurance system that Nick Clegg said he favoured in 2005.

It is clear that the policy is to make fewer treatments available to NHS patients.

Sir David Nicholson, the Chief Executive of the NHS and now of the unaccountable super-quango, the NHS Commissioning Board, has said as much.

Last year he said: "If you've got a long-term condition, you might want to think in future about different GPs and whether they're providing a full range of service for that condition."

Reflect on what he said.

What he didn’t say was “Richard, under the NHS reforms I will guarantee that you will get the care that you need”. He is saying the exact opposite. He says that it is acceptable for CCGs not to authorise the services we need.

That is an admission that Lansley is creating an incompetent system.

It is appalling. If you have a long term condition, every GP should provide the full range of services you need. You should not have to travel to another CCG (it is the CCG who decides if a treatment is available) to get the treatment you need.

Some CCGs are huge. They are the size of counties. If a patient finds their CCG will not pay for the treatment they need, they will have to travel to the neighbouring county to find a CCG that will give them that treatment. This is the postcode lottery on a scale we have never experienced before.

In 1981, Norman Tebbit told people to “get on your bike and find work.” Now, 30 years later, Sir David Nicholson tells us to “get on your bike and find treatment”.
The NHS shows how civilised we are as a nation. Any attack on the NHS shows that we are a less civilised nation. This bill is bad for patients. I urge everyone to do as much they can to make the government drop this bill.

Richard Blogger writes about the NHS and social policy at NHS Vault.

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