THE BMA and the main TUC trade unions are completely opposed to the Health and Social Care Bill and have given up all efforts to make it palatable.
The BMA has pledged to organise a public campaign to force the government to abandon the Bill.
Now the time has arrived where such action is unpostponable! The final straw is the confirmation that the bill will allow NHS hospitals to hold back 49 per cent of their beds for private, cash upfront, use.
This is at a time when the NHS is undergoing £20bn of cuts, thousands of jobs are going, and when the majority of District General Hospitals face reconfiguration and/or closure in favour of the nonexistent ‘care in the community’ charade.
With mass hospital cuts and closures now directly ahead, or even currently being organised in the case of Chase Farm and other District General Hospitals, the latest news from the Health and Social Care Bill front is that a recent revision of the Bill will allow foundation hospitals to raise 49 per cent of funds through non-NHS work, meaning that almost half of hospital beds and theatre time will be on a cash only basis, with NHS patients forming a very long queue to get treatment.
This is a leap to a privatised NHS, where ordinary working people or the poor are persona non grata. Most Foundation Trusts are limited to a private income of 2 per cent, except for a small number of specialist hospitals such as the Royal Marsden where there is already a 30 per cent cap.
The amendment to the Health and Social Care Bill was made shortly before Christmas by Health Minister Earl Howe.
Commenting on the move, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said lifting the private income cap for foundation hospitals would directly benefit NHS patients.
This pledge can be taken as seriously as his pre-election pledge that the A&E, maternity and paediatric departments at Chase Farm would not be closed under a Tory regime.
As soon as the election was over that pledge was binned!
Under the Bill the commissioning of NHS services, disposing of £80bn of NHS funds, is to be carried out by private companies buying services from any qualified provider.
Yesterday, Burnham, Labour’s shadow Health Secretary and a former Labour government Health Secretary – who brought the NHS to the point where the Tories would be directly able to privatise it – was weeping copious crocodile tears.
He said: ‘This surprise move, sneaked out just before Christmas, is the clearest sign yet of David Cameron’s determination to turn our precious NHS into a US-style commercial system, where hospitals are more interested in profits than people.
‘With NHS hospitals able to devote half of their beds to private patients, people will begin to see how our hospitals will never be the same again if Cameron’s Health Bill gets through Parliament.’
A cap on the amount of income hospitals can raise from private patients was put in place by Labour in 2003, amid huge opposition to their setting up of foundation hospitals, which had freedom to decide how their services, now businesses, were to be run to make a profit.
All NHS hospitals are set to become foundation hospitals by 2014.
Burnham is now trying to persuade the NHS unions to give up the struggle to smash the Health Bill in favour of turning to the House of Lords and the Liberal Democrats to try and persuade both to defeat the Tory measure.
This is the sheerest hypocrisy. Everybody knows that the Lib-Dems sell principles for cabinet seats, and have co-ownership of the privatising Health and Social Care Bill.
There is only one way to defeat the Tory-LibDem Health and Social Care Bill.
This is to organise a massive pubic campaign at the centre of which is industrial action.
The TUC and the non-TUC health unions must band together and launch this campaign now. It must lead up to a general strike in the New Year to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government. This is the way to smash the plot to privatise the NHS and close hundreds of hospitals!