Parliamentary sketch – Is there a post-industrialisation of the NHS?

Posted on: 1st August 2013

It’s never too late to save the NHS!

We’re seeing the industrialisation of care and the commercialisation of health. But it doesn’t have to be like this. We can stop this race to the bottom.

A brave new managerial culture swept through the NHS in recent decades. It demands that nurses and doctors put tick box targets above patient care. But it is those same clinicians who will be “struck off” as staff pressure increases, pressure becomes unfeasible and they are forced to cut corners.

Care has become a measurable commodity to be tendered for and then rationed. Patients in need of “urgent” attention can now speak to unqualified telephonists armed with algorithms on computer screens.

I noticed this week that a local private surgical centre is advertising its services (to do hernias, vasectomies, etc) on the NHS; all of which could be done at our local NHS hospitals. Every NHS operation lost to a private company is another nail in the side of our local hospitals.

This marketised NHS has been driven by dogma rather than concern for clinical safety. It is not just the present Government, but the previous Labour Government who have swallowed this dogma. The risk of creating a NHS driven more by concern for private profit than for patient care has already arrived and that’s why companies will pull out of business contracts when it doesn’t pay, just as we saw with NHS 111 this week.

It doesn’t have to be like this. Our NHS should be based on clinical safety, not slick marketing, irresponsible claims and a culture of unrealistic contract tenders. We don’t need another major re-organisation of the NHS to put it right. We can still pull services back into the NHS family, put patient care above profit and give patient groups and our community a bigger say in the deployment of the £billions we spend on health and social care.

It’s good that our local GPs have a bigger say in the shaping of our health service. We now need them to engage with patients and the community, to take back ownership of the NHS and get those services that have become fragmented into separate business and business units to now work together.

One GP said to me recently that “the days when we’d do what needed to be done for the patient has gone. Now everyone is working to contract.” Above all we must stop our NHS becoming a multi £billion market to be exploited by private healthcare companies.

Andrew George MP
Kernow a’n West ha Syllan
West Cornwall and the Scillies
Kwartron Porthia
Constituency of St Ives
Tel: 01736 360020
Fax: 01736 332866

30th July 2013