Crunch Week For NHS!

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The front of last month’s 5,000-strong march from University College Hospital to Downing Street to demand the scrapping of the Tory coalition’s Health and Social Care Bill and no cuts to the NHS
The front of last month’s 5,000-strong march from University College Hospital to Downing Street to demand the scrapping of the Tory coalition’s Health and Social Care Bill and no cuts to the NHS

The NHS faces a crunch week, says the Unite union.

It has issued a statement saying prime minister Cameron’s pledges on the health service were ‘a personal guarantee of chaos’.

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, warned that Cameron’s recent speech outlining his five ‘personal guarantees’ would actually make matters worse rather than better.

Unite’s intervention comes as the Future Forum, which has been carrying out consultations during the fake pause in the progress of the Health and Social Care Bill, is to unveil its report today.

Unite national officer for health, Rachael Maskell said: ‘This is, indeed, a crunch week for the NHS.

‘Health professionals have made it very clear that these proposals won’t work – and this was overwhelmingly restated by doctors this week at the British Medical Association’s annual GP conference in London.

‘Now is the time for the MPs to listen very carefully to what the professionals and their constituents are saying.

‘People really rely on the NHS which they don’t want privatised for profit.

‘MPs, especially the Liberal Democrats, should put the founding principles of the NHS before narrow party advantage.

‘It is time to scrap the bill and conduct a proper review of what is needed for the long- term needs of the NHS and our nation’s health, rather than rush through a biased, lop-sided listening exercise.

‘It is time for a commission of genuinely independent experts to be set up.’

Unite believes that the prime minister’s ‘compromises’ will ‘neither meet the concerns of his Liberal Democratic allies, outlined at their spring conference in March, nor protect the NHS from rapacious private healthcare companies wishing to gobble up profitable and “cherry picked” health service contracts to the detriment of a joined-up and universal health service.’

Among Unite’s conclusions are: ‘Firstly, Cameron’s statement on the main duty of Monitor appears to simply repeat the existing wording of the Bill, which describes the “main duty” of Monitor as “to protect and promote the interests of people who use health care services. . . by promoting competition where appropriate”.

‘This is not a pledge to amend the Bill, but a defence of its original drafting.

‘Secondly, the government have already issued plans to create a “genuine level playing field” and the powers for Monitor to do so are contained within the Bill. . .

‘The government has proposed to address this “problem” by developing the NHS tariff in a way that would allow different prices to be paid to different providers – so that private providers, for example, are paid back their corporation tax through a “bonus” on the tariff. . .

‘So when Cameron pledges “a genuine level playing field” he is actually proposing a subsidy for the private sector.’

Unite also warns: ‘Individual providers will continue to be fragmented by outsourcing and compete for patients rather than co-operate for their care.’