SCRAP THE BILL! – and the Board says Unite

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Unite leading a demonstration to mark the 63rd anniversary of the NHS in July this year
Unite leading a demonstration to mark the 63rd anniversary of the NHS in July this year

‘The NHS Commissioning Board and the Health Bill should be scrapped’, a Unite spokeswoman told News line yesterday.

She was responding to the news that the Board is due to start work in a ‘shadow form’, and will aim to help patients ‘shop around’ and compare GPs.

The Unite spokeswoman said: ‘Unite believes that it is an outrage that they are not taking into account parliamentary processes.

‘They are rushing through their reforms. They are untried, untested, and a majority of health professionals are against them.

‘The NHS Commissioning Board is going to be the biggest quango in the world.

‘There will be no elected representatives and we are deeply concerned that the new chair of the board lacks experience in the NHS and we worry that his agenda will be to pursue the privatisation and break-up of the health service, rather than concentrate on integration and the sharing of best practice.

‘This is the Tories up to their old tricks, they are placing appointees with views that they know will pursue their privatisation agenda, which will be to the detriment of patients.

‘The NHS Commissioning Board and the Health Bill should be scrapped.

‘Bureaucracy will balloon under their proposals.

‘It would have been far simpler if they had worked with health professionals under the existing structures to find ways that the NHS could have been improved rather than the wholesale restructuring of the NHS that’s geared towards the market.’

When he was interviewed by MPs on the House of Commons health committee on his suitability as Board chairman, Professor Malcolm Grant was repeatedly asked to give evidence of his passion for the NHS.

He finally responded: ‘I find it difficult to demonstrate because I am not a patient of the NHS.’

Former NHS boss, Sir David Nicholson, chief executive of the Board, said: ‘We think this will be a very powerful mechanism for patients to make choices about which GPs they use.’

He said that the £20bn ‘savings challenge’ facing the NHS was keeping him awake at night.

Nicholson warned that NHS trusts had ‘better learn quickly that they have to plan for a future which does not have huge amounts of growth for the NHS.’

BMA Council member Anna Athow told News Line: ‘It is shocking that the Department of Health told the Today programme that the NCB (NHS Commissioning Board) has been set up, when the Health Bill has not even been enacted by Parliament yet.

‘The NCB’s main job is to drive in the market, and that is why Nicholson is forcing through the £20 billion McKinsey QUIPP cuts – to close down schools and hospitals.

‘They need this money to set up the market and bring in the private sector.

‘The unions must insist this NCB is illegal and unconstitutional, and should withdraw cooperation immediately and campaign to mobilise their members to defeat the bill and resist the cuts.’

A Unison spokeswoman said the union was not putting out a comment.