Recent research has shown that more than two-thirds of people in England, including many Conservative voters, are concerned that the proposed shake-up of the NHS risks extending privatisation.
It also shows a lack of public support for the government’s Health and Care Bill. Of those interviewed, 72 per cent say they are worried that the proposals would open the health service to contracts being given out to private companies without scrutiny.
Campaigners, the Labour Party and NHS trades unions are opposed to the plans, claiming the Bill would allow the NHS to award contracts to private firms without considering other bids. This has also sparked fears of a repeat of the “crony contracts” scandal that has shaken the government.
The proposal is also to reorganise the Health Service such as in Gloucestershire, with the formation of an NHS Integrated Health Board, which will absorb some NHS structures, principally the Clinical Commissioning Group.
With the NHS likely facing a cataclysmic winter, this is not a top priority.
The priority, as many patients in Gloucestershire know, is to tackle record breaking NHS waiting lists and ensure people can see their GPs face to face. The expense of reorganising the NHS, as before, would take valuable resources away from patient care.
The government must roll back privatisation, not carve up resources and let in more private healthcare companies. Many Conservative voters are worried about a corporate takeover of our NHS. Despite a Department of Health and Social Care insistence that the NHS is not for sale, the Bill will allow for even greater contracting-out of services to profit-hungry private companies.
Fixing waiting lists and support for general practice are clearly top priorities, but are absent from the Bill, which should be rejected as a distraction from the real problem of how to prevent the NHS from total collapse.
Professor Robert Arnott
This article appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo 2 december 2021