Darzai Private Nursing Plans

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The GMB trade union yesterday expressed serious concerns over plans for a nurse-led privatised NHS contained in health minister Lord Darzi’s review, due to be published on Monday.

Sharon Holder, GMB National Officer for Public Services, told News Line: ‘The GMB hopes that this will not result in a wholesale contracting out of the services.

‘NHS staff who are employed by NHS must not be forced to leave the NHS.

‘If Darzi’s proposals are for wholesale contracting out of services to the private sector, without maintaining the NHS ethos, then GMB will no doubt be strongly objecting to that.’

Darzi’s ‘recommendations’ which are to ‘encourage’ nurses to set themselves up as private companies and sell their services back to the NHS – are to be backed up by a new NHS Constitution.

This will establish a statutory right for nurses to demand Primary Care Trusts, who hold the bulk of NHS funds, approve the setting up of ‘not-for-profit’ nurse-led companies to provide NHS services such as physiotherapy, health checks for illnesses such as diabetes, and immunisation programmes.

Nurses will be encouraged to be entrepreneurial and set up ‘social enterprises’ that even employ GPs, turning the practice of traditional family doctor surgeries on its head.

It is reported that the Department of Health has been consulting the Royal College of Nursing on plans for nurses with advanced training in the treatment of conditions like diabetes, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease to have an expanded role in managing patients’ care.

Meanwhile, British Medical Association GPs Committee chairman Dr Laurence Buckman has hit back at an attack on single-handed GP surgeries ‘in crappy end-of-terrace houses’, by NHS London head Ruth Carnall.

Dr Buckman replied to this: ‘As London’s health chief, you have to be careful if you use words like “crappy”.

‘These practices are popular with all races and religions because they provide continuity which larger practices don’t.

‘But London PCTs have starved them of funds. You don’t judge a practice by its building but by patient satisfaction.’