According to the BMJ, GPs are standing “baffled in the wreckage” of the NHS. Qualified blog provider Maxine Vaccine tries to make sense of the ‘clinician-led’ NHS reform that clinicians overwhelmingly reject.
The Government’s NHS reform policy will empower clinicians. It will improve the productivity of a service that has declined severely over the last decade and is performing badly by European standards. It will ensure that healthcare in England remains free. It will reduce bureaucracy, empower patients and ensure better outcomes.
All the above claims, made by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley over the last 18 months, have now been challenged by the major organisations of health professionals and by independent health experts such as the King’s Fund. As the ‘listening exercise’ delivered only minor changes and the NHS reform proceeded according to schedule despite the delays to legislation, the mood of health professionals and the public has soured. The impression has been not of representative democracy but of business deals sewn up behind closed doors, with ‘proposals’ magically becoming a fait accompli.
Here (summarised from a number of sources) is the reality as it is currently understood by the majority of health professionals and health experts:
The Government’s NHS reform policy will force clinicians to accept the control of private healthcare corporations. It will destroy the capability of the NHS as a health service and make it basically the UK equivalent of Medicare. It will severely reduce the availability and reliability of services – following a decade in which the performance of the NHS improved and took steps towards catching up with most of Europe. It will increase bureaucracy and take away the entitlement of patients to free comprehensive healthcare.
What’s not to love, right?
The NHS has been subjected to what Naomi Klein called the ‘shock doctrine’: a sudden and traumatic lesson in the ethos of the free market. All that means is that the Government is behaving like a corporation. For the pharma industry, therefore, the NHS reform programme feels like coming home.
Last month, a doctor and health lecturer writing in the BMJ asked how he could explain to his students how the Health Bill being mostly enacted before it has become law, and that state of affairs being used to railroad the Lords into letting it pass without delay, is not “contempt of Parliament”.
This week, the former vice chair of the Local Commissioning Group in Cambridge, also writing in the BMJ, said that he and his colleagues were now standing “baffled in the wreckage” of a system the Government had promised it would improve.
And the fact that the 2010 Conservative Party manifesto explicitly promised not to impose major structural change on the NHS is such a distant memory that these days, it barely rates a mention.
So what has the Government done? It made a promise it had the clear intention of breaking. It declared a consultation period that was purely for show. It said one thing to its business friends and another to the public. It tried to persuade its employees that massive layoffs were in their best interests.
To put it bluntly, it did everything that a good corporate management team would be expected to do.
Somebody should give them a bonus.
Maxine’s views are not necessarily those of Pharmaceutical Field.