While I continue to get my head around the various complex issues raised by the Health Bill, I thought that it might be good to flag up some of the alarm bells that make me wonder about the bill even before we look at the nitty-gritty detail. If you’ve not seen my previous posts on Saving the NHS and Trying to Untangle it, do check them out and leave a comment.
Doctors don’t like it
The fact that doctors, and other health professionals with years of training and experience working in the health service are up in arms about this bill makes me think that it is something worth worrying about. I may not understand all the issues yet, but they have much better handle on things and they are speaking out. That makes me stop and take notice.
Is it just a few rogue doctors causing a fuss? No, actually, it’s the Royal College of GPs, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives who all calling for the bill to be dropped. They are not alone, the international citizen blog has created a list of all those in opposition to the Health Bill. This is no rogues gallery. There is also a BBC piece here.
They are not mincing their words either. “This bill is a burden. It makes, no sense, it is incoherent to anybody other than the lawyers” said Dr Clare Gerada, Head of the Royal College of GPs on Radio 4’s Today programme. (Whilst I’m pleased to find that it’s not just me struggling to make sense of the bill, I’m concerned that lawyers rather than medical professionals are the only ones who might be able to unravel the future of the NHS.) Dr Gerada continues: “It will result in a very expensive health service and it will also result in a health service that certainly will never match the health service that we have at the moment – or at least had 12 months ago.”
That is a massive alarm bell in itself. If you’re worried, why not sign this eGov petition, go on, do it now. Sign here!
Tories don’t like it
Okay, so if the fact that a bunch of health professionals are calling for the bill to be dropped doesn’t worry you enough, what about the fact that the Conservative Home website reports that three Tory Cabinet Ministers are also concerned about the bill, with one of them saying it must be dropped. Are they against the bill in principle or just concerned that it has the power to backfire politically and threaten their jobs? Either way, it appears that all is not well in even the close ranks of the Cabinet. That surely can’t be a good sign?
The Department of Health has a Strategic Risk Register that looks at the effects of restructuring the NHS. This would be a pretty useful thing to look at if you wanted to get a better idea of what might happen to the NHS if the Health Bill goes through. But you can’t. Despite the Information Commissioner ruling that it should be released, and despite David Cameron in 2010 saying “it is our ambition to be one of the most transparent governments in the world”, it is being kept secret.
Does that mean anything is being hidden? Maybe not. Maybe there’s a perfectly good reason. On the other hand, how much do you trust politicians? When the future of the NHS is on the table, I think we can claim any cynicism as “healthy”.
If you’d like (in the words of Simon Burns, Minister of State (Health)) to “zombie-like, send in emails”, then might I suggest that writing to your MP and encouraging them to sign the Early Day Motion (EDM) requesting that the Risk Register by published. Here’s a the link to EDM 2659.
Anyone for a kidney?
Now we start delving into areas that will need a bit more work to put properly into context, require more understanding of how competition and private contracts might work, but, since we’re just looking at alarm bells perhaps we should consider this. It is being alleged, in several places, that a company which may end up profiting from NHS contracts has admitted illegally selling kidneys. The Daily Mirror article from Nov 2011 and a more recent piece from Political Scrapbook. Now I’m not sure about you, but I’m not really okay with the idea that my tax money is going to be spent on private companies that have a track record like this. Maybe it’s just me.
Again, we now start to reach into areas where our simple backgrounder may not be enough, but the fact that people such as Allyson Pollock, professor of public health at Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry, are bringing up the idea that the health service may no longer necessarily be free at the point of use still raises the alarm and is worth investigating. We’ll get to the bottom of it eventually… perhaps. One day.
Worried? Want to take action?
Here are three simple things you can do:
- Sign the petition – with 100,000 signatures it has to be debated in parliament http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670
- Write to your MP and ask them to sign EDM 2659
- Help me understand more for my next thrilling NHS Bill blog instalment – and consider sharing this one?
- If you’re more into sharing YouTube clips than blogs about politics, why not listen to to and share this song instead?