The Health Bill in its current form will lead to the “end of the NHS”, a union chief has claimed.
Christina McAnea, Head of Health at Unison, said that the Bill will make matters worse for the NHS, tempting cash strapped hospitals to prioritise paying patients, “pushing NHS patients even further down the ever-spiralling waiting lists.”
But Health Secretary Andrew Lansley dismissed these allegations that the Bill would lead to the privatisation of the NHS, as ‘scaremongering’.
Unison’s comments come at the beginning of the week when Parliament will renew the debate around Lansley’s controversial plans for the health service.
The concerns focus on the continued competitive role of the private sector, increased bureaucracy and plans for change involving failing areas of the NHS.
Ms McAnea said: “It should be obvious to the Government that now is not the time to bring in this massive, damaging NHS reorganisation.”
Mike Farrar, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, said: “There is a real danger that the NHS could find itself in paralysis”.
But Lansley said the policies would improve the health service and improve outcomes for patients. “The reality is that we’re giving more power and choice to patients over how they get treated, keeping waiting times low and cutting bureaucracy so more cash gets to the front line,” he said.
MPs will debate the Health Bill over the next two days, following a series of concessions made by ministers in June. The strong opposition to the reforms offers a major challenge and delay for the Government.
Shadow Health Secretary John Healey has complained that the Government appeared to be rushing the “bad bill” through the House of Commons. He said there were over 1,000 amendments that needed debating.
Baroness Thornton of the Labour Party says the House of Lords is prepared to form a special committee if necessary, to scrutinise the bill in “great detail” later in the autumn, which could delay the process even further.