Unite questions how Cameron’s ‘substantive’ changes to NHS bill are going to happen

Published on Tuesday, 17 May 2011 12:07
Posted by Scott Buckler

David Cameron’s pledge to ensure ‘substantive’ changes to the NHS ‘reform’ bill should be probed to discover what he actually means, Unite, the largest union in the country, has said (May 17th)

Unite said that the deeply flawed Health and Social Care bill should be scrapped and a rtoyal commission set-up to investigate the future of the NHS.

Unite pointed out the discrepancy between the prime minister’s ‘vision’ and the fact that tens of thousands of NHS jobs had been or were going to be lost in the near future. Wards are already closing, waiting lists growing and services being axed or reduced.

Unite national officer for health, Rachael Maskell, said: ”David Cameron in his speech today was long on rhetoric, but short of specifics. This was a PR exercise in verbal gymnastics due to the political pressures he is under, especially from his Liberal Democrat allies.

”David Cameron wants it both ways with the Health and Social Care bill. He said today there will be no privatisation, no ‘cherry picking’ of services by private companies and no up-front costs for care, but we question how the prime minister’s ‘substantive’ changes are going to be incorporated into the legislation.

”The bill is so flawed that it should be scrapped. The whole bill is designed on the premise of Monitor’s role as an economic regulator and the concept of ‘any willing provider’ i.e. private companies. If the prime minister is serious about these changes, it will mean a new bill.

”David ‘I love the NHS’ Cameron is facing both ways – it is an untenable position, especially as prof. Steve Field, who is leading the ‘listening’ exercise on the bill, said the reforms were ‘destabilising’.

”What the prime minister actually means by substantive changes needs to be put under the microscope by health professionals, patient groups and the general public, as Unite still believes that fragmentation and privatisation are the underlying themes of the bill.

”He admits that the NHS is providing some of the best services it has ever done, so why all the upheaval? There is no logic being displayed.”

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, believes that a cross-party royal commission would have the gravitas to look at the challenges facing the 63-year-old NHS in the decades to come.

Rachael Maskell said: ”Setting-up a royal commission would be able to give the future of the NHS the serious consideration it desperately needs, and would attract cross-party support, and support from bodies representing health staff, patients and specialists.

”Such a commission would look at issues such as the changing demographics; the cost and availability of drugs; and the advances in technology.

”No one voted for this bill at last year’s general election - for the most drastic upheaval of the NHS since its inception in 1948. As Nick Clegg said: ‘No bill is better than a bad bill’.“

 

Source: UNITE

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