Sunday, October 9, 2011

#NHS : Last Chance To STOP NHS Shake -Up

Polly Toynbee brilliantly summarises the situation we as citizens find ourselves in, as Lansley's health and social care bill railroads through parliament at breakneck speed, despite its complexity (This shocking NHS bill is without sense or mandate, 8 October).

Cameron intervenes in Libya in order to uphold the values of democracy, but the way this bill – designed to turn the NHS into a market, despite the evidence that healthcare is unsuitable for market mechanisms – has been managed is anything but democratic. That is why we are having to rely on the unelected House of Lords to throw this bill out.

We would ask your readers to lobby the Lords and ask them to support Lord Rea's amendment. As a former GP he, like Keep Our NHS Public, the BMA and the 400 doctors who wrote to the peers last week, believes the bill should be withdrawn and so has tabled an amendment "to decline to read the bill a second time". This would effectively stop the bill in this session and enable us all to have a real debate about the way our NHS should be organised.

It is not too late to do this. Lansley has told at least one peer privately that "the costs of the NHS going forward are unsustainable and the whole 'business model' of the NHS needs to be revised". We agree with the latter statement and believe that, as the health select committee suggested in 2010, commissioning has failed, and we should follow Scotland and Wales's example and abolish the purchaser/provider split introduced by Kenneth Clarke in 1990. Following Sunday's sit-down protest on Westminster bridge by UK Uncut, we hope the Lords will listen to the people and respond.

Wendy Savage


• Your article (NHS will not fund some operations, patients told, 4 October) exemplifies our objections to the health bill that will change the NHS into a market-based system. As the NHS "saves" £5bn from its annual budget, it follows that as well as becoming more "efficient" it will provide fewer services – as the budget shrinks so do services provided.

GPs in York are not the first to spot a gap in the oncoming market in English healthcare by offering to provide what the NHS no longer will – at a price. These are the same GPs that will be put at the centre of the NHS procurement by the health bill. They have a vested interest in providing less under the NHS so they can provide more privately. This, we fear, is the model the government has in mind when pushing the much-criticised and unnecessary health "reforms".

Dr Ron Singer

President, Medical Practitioners' Union – the doctors' section of Unite
Keep Our NHS Public