This is a copy of a letter that I wrote to The Salisbury Journal letters page (Postbag) and which appeared on Thursday 22nd March 2012. Link
Having been the recipient of excellent healthcare from my Salisbury GP service and Salisbury District Hospital, I am compelled to write about my concern that we, the patients and taxpayers, seem to be doing little to prevent the destruction of our NHS.
According to independent and objective international comparisons, the NHS is one of the most cost effective and successful health care systems on the planet. This is despite political interference and chronic underfunding for most of its existence.
Yes, there are defects, as there are with all other systems, and we should be ashamed that we have not fought harder for these to be fixed.
But the government reforms, not mentioned in any manifesto, and with no democratic mandate, will result in an NHS run by companies who will make decisions which prioritise their shareholders’ interests and will channel huge sums of tax payers’ money into their profits and CEOs’ bonuses.
Some of these companies already have a dubious track record. Their contracts and finances are subject to confidentiality and they are immune to the Freedom of Information Act.
We cannot trust any of the political parties.
The Labour Party, when in power, introduced privatisation by stealth and the present Tory/Lib Dems want to turbocharge this and enshrine it in law to prevent any reversal. If we want to retain a National Health Service we will have to fight for it ourselves.
If we care about the NHS we need to pay attention and get involved – it will soon be too late and there will be no going back – our children and grandchildren will not forgive us if we do not fight the self-interest and ideology which threatens our NHS.
COLIN LAWSON, Salisbury
The Postbag editor clearly wanted to liven things up and so gave my letter the headline: “Political parties cannot be trusted with our NHS”. I do not think this fairly reflected the thrust of my letter but nevertheless it did prompt Steve Fear from the Labour party to write in response. This is a link to his letter. I have not pasted it hear in case the Journal has the copyright.
In the following week there was a response from John Wigglesworth. Link here.
As I do not believe either of these responses addressed the focus of my original letter, I followed it up with another letter to the Journal – this was published on Thursday 19th April with another letter from Steve Fear. Here is the link to Steve’s message. I have posted my letter, in full, below (the Journal’s version was significantly edited).
Letter to Salisbury Journal Post Bag (published 19th April)
My recent letter to Postbag (21st March 2012) regarding the demise of the NHS has generated a couple of responses but both were of a party political nature. They did not address the focus of my letter which was that the passing of the Health and Social Care Bill effectively means the end of the NHS as we have known it and that health care in the future will be subject to huge conflicts of interest with inadequate safeguards.
At the local level, a senior GP has resigned as chair of Sarum NHS Alliance Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) due to the adverse impact on his professional and personal life and the care he felt he could provide his patients.
In case you didn’t know, CCGs are taking over from the old PCTs (Primary Care Trusts), does this mean that people are being made redundant from the PCTs, at great expense, only to be reemployed by the new CCGs?
I note that at least one experienced local GP is giving up one day a week in her surgery because of her membership of Sarum NHS Alliance. How many more GPs are being taken away from contact with their patients?
It now seems that our local Sarum NHS Alliance is going to amalgamate with the rest of Wiltshire to form a county wide CCG. Will this be good or bad for Salisbury?
What happens if our local GPs decide that they didn’t enter medicine to become managers of multi million pound budgets and they decide to hand over the CCG to management consultants with service delivery run by Virgin Health Care or the health care equivalent of A4E?
I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. It would be great if someone who does could write a letter to Postbag giving us an update.
The reform bill gives a legal basis for charging and providing fewer health services this could mean a large number of private beds in our hospital and, as seems likely, GPs telling their patients that they will have to pay for services currently provided free through the NHS.
Please don’t think I am making this up – check for your self, these changes are already happening in other parts of the country. If we care about this we need to pay attention to what is happening locally and be prepared to fight for the retention of a comprehensive, integrated health care system that serves the whole community.