The Prime Minister’s PR rhetoric on NHS reform can’t disguise the flaws with the proposals and its unpopularity with the public, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Monday, 17 January).
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that the proposals to reform the NHS – due to be unveiled in the Health and Social Care Bill on Wednesday – were politically, economically and professionally flawed.
Unite was commenting as David Cameron was due to give a well-trailed speech on public reform today, and following a letter in The Times today from Unite and other health care organisations warning that the effects of the reforms were ‘potentially disastrous.’
Unite’s National Officer for Health, Karen Reay said: ‘The much-vaunted reforms of Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley are deeply flawed on a number of counts.’
‘Politically, these plans were never voted on by the electorate in May, when the Tories promised there would be no major reorganisation of the NHS. Now they are intending to introduce a bill to Parliament that is five times greater than any previous NHS bill put before MPs.’
‘This is just a continuation of the Maoist revolution that Vince Cable warned about before Christmas. Unnecessarily tampering with the NHS is extremely unpopular with the public – all the PM’s PR spin can’t disguise this fact.’
‘Economically, the reforms of the NHS will cost about £3bn to implement – creating new unwanted bureaucracies with money that should be directed to patient care. The only people to benefit will be the private healthcare companies which will gobble up lucrative NHS contracts.’
‘Professionally, all this turmoil will hit patient care as the NHS becomes fragmented under the weight of private sector involvement and the coalition’s so-called £20bn of efficiency savings start to take their toil. There is clear evidence from research by economists at Imperial College that price competition in healthcare is damaging.’
‘There is a danger that these plans will be as incoherent as the Big Society, but far more risky for the public’s health. And however much the PM protests this is not all about ideology – there is nowhere in the world where health outcomes improve when the service is marketised. The sole reason they are dissecting the service is to pave the way for private provision.’
In the letter to The Times, Unite and five other health organisations, said: ‘Furthermore the sheer scale of the ambitious and costly reform programme, and the pace of change, whilst at the same time being tasked with making £20 billion of savings, is extremely risky and potentially disastrous.’