Doctors Want The Privateers Out Of The NHS!

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A POLL by the BMA and Doctors.net.uk shows that doctors are concerned about the role of private companies in the NHS.

Eight out of ten doctors are concerned about private companies profiting from the NHS, the poll to be published today shows.

The online poll was commissioned by the BMA and carried out by Doctors.net.uk – the UK’s largest online network of medical professionals. Doctors.net.uk members were asked:

‘The BMA’s “Look after our NHS” campaign is concerned that some large multinational companies are making profits out of running local clinical services on behalf of the NHS. To what extent do you agree with the campaign’s concerns?’

There were 697 responses with 80 per cent saying they either strongly agreed (51 per cent) or agreed (29 per cent) with the statement. Just seven per cent said they either disagreed (four per cent) or strongly disagreed (three per cent).

The BMA also publishes today a paper listing reports of public money being wasted as a result of market-driven reforms.

Examples include an estimate that as much as £1.54 billion might have been overpaid to Independent Sector Treatment Centres in England, and figures showing that the NHS in England spent around £350 million on private management consultants in the last financial year.

Comments from Doctors.net.uk’s members included from a clinical assistant in general surgery: ‘The process of outsourcing previously public services to private industry often works very badly – witness the railways, London Underground, private prisons. Its application to the NHS is a major threat to the public health.’

A Consultant Urologist said: ‘The NHS no longer exists. There are a number of health services in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland, all different, no longer national in a UK sense. We are at a time when Foundation Trusts have become businesses, motivated by profit and loss.’

A GP added: ‘Our glorious leaders seem determined to follow the USA into healthcare economic oblivion. Based on a blind and stupid belief that private provision is always best.’

Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: “This is more evidence of the medical profession’s concerns about commercial values being imposed on the NHS. There are countless examples of taxpayers’ money being wasted because of the drive for services to be provided by profit-making companies rather than traditional NHS providers.

‘When politicians talk about cutting waste they should consider the fact that the bureaucratic costs of a market are hitting the taxpayer hard. We’d like to see the NHS in England restored to a publicly provided, publicly funded service, driven by the needs of patients, not shareholders.’

Tim Ringrose, managing director of medical communities at Doctors.net.uk, said: ‘The poll results confirm that doctors take a very keen interest in the delivery of clinical services in their area and that they are naturally protective about any perceived interference from central government or cherry-picking of profitable areas by those with a commercial interest.’

The BMA’s ‘Look After our NHS’ campaign is to be launched next year to a public audience.

There is not a moment to lose when the Labour government is planning to close scores of District General Hospitals and replace them with completely inadequate ‘local’ hospitals, privately owned and run polyclinics and a non-existent private care in the community.

The BMA has shown that billions are being taken out of the NHS budget by the privateers.

The BMA must lead the way in establishing councils of action to mobilise trade unions and communities to occupy District General Hospitals to stop them being closed.

It must demand that private companies are evicted from the NHS, and be prepared to organise alongside the TUC trade unions to bring the Brown government down, and bring in a workers government that will defend the NHS and fund its expansion.