Imagine you’re a police officer (if you’re reading this and you’re not) you are called to an incident, a disturbance, a report of a drunk male having seriously assaulted someone. As you make your way, you are told CCTV operatives are following the suspect. Another mobile unit arrives and is with the victim. It’s a multiple stabbing. The victim is unconscious and an ambulance is en route.
64 years ago today the National Health Service came into effect in England and Wales; it was the brain-child of the liberal economist Sir William Beveridge and was implemented by the then Labour Minister for Health, Nye Bevan. The new NHS was to be the first of its kind with healthcare free at the point of use. Gone were the days of people struggling and worrying about how they would pay health bills should they become unwell.
The NHS came into effect after the Second World War and at a time when the national debt was significantly high. 64 years after the National Health Service Act 1946 came into effect, the very same health service is at risk due to government cuts and privatisation. With the passing of the Health and Social Care Act under the Conservative led government and PFI under Labour, private organisations are gradually taking over thus ending the National Health Service as we know it.
A report out yesterday from the Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that the “freeze in NHS spending planned for 2010-11 to 2014-15 would, if delivered, be the tightest four year period of funding for the NHS in the last fifty years”.
The NHS does need reforming and we do need more doctors and nurses assessing patients rather than tied up with red tape, however the current reforms go against the founding principles of the NHS. Whilst the NHS has seen an increase in funding over the last decade during the boom years it is facing significant cuts and challenges during the period of current economic downturn as it looks for £20 billion in savings.
There have been many NHS achievements particularly since 1997 and these have been acknowledged by David Cameron and other leading Conservatives such as Lord Tebbit. Labour’s NHS achievements include high levels of patient satisfaction, lower waiting times, more nurses and doctors, and fewer people dying from cancer and heart disease. These are achievements we all as British citizens should be proud of. Already since the change of government in 2010 waiting times have dramatically increased and official figures show that there are more than 3,500 fewer nurses now than in 2010.
Today on the 64th birthday of the NHS we need to continue to stand up and protect the institution that has saved so many lives and benefitted millions more. We need to lobby MPs and Ministers and urge them to rethink the current reforms and we need to protect the NHS for the generations to come. We are all probably guilty of taking the NHS for granted.
In the words of the father of the NHS, Nye Bevan “the NHS will only survive as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it”.
The National Health Service (NHS) is one of the most debated aspects of British society in the 21st century. Accommodating all walks of life; from rich to poor, black to white – getting the balance for the costs of its service has been baffling the minds of politicians since 1948 when it was formed. But in recent times, the spending has gone out of control, with diluted jobs infecting the institution. As the spending increases in the financial good times, bringing it back down to an economical level is a challenge.
The Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley has set out to tackle the black hole in the British Government’s spending with a wide-spread reform. Job cuts (24,500 jobs – almost 21,000 of them through redundancy) and reforms of power is his plan of action. Predicted to save £5 billion by 2014/15 and £1.7billion every year after this option seems to be the correct way to reform the NHS.
Of course it comes with job cuts but it is so much more than simply balancing the books. It allows the NHS to compete delivering a cheaper price to the general public and a better quality of service. Competition in any situation is only going to benefit the consumer.
So these job cuts could offer job prosperity to those made redundant from the NHS reforms. Allowing people to have stable and economical jobs for the long term – not a job which is not needed, which adds to the piling high British public service spending wastage.
Mr Lansley needs too ‘stick to his guns’ with this reform. If he doesn’t it will not 100% fulfil the reform, making it less effective and not delivering its full potential to be an economy saver. It’s going to be either an election winner or a dramatic poor-decision by the Conservative Party. But it shows that they aren’t phased about the fact that they might not be able to stay in power after the next election, but rather that they want the economy to be relieved from the ‘NHS’ shackle’s killing the British government’s spending reform.
That was a guest blog written by the Conservative Party activist and blogger Oliver Demaine (theglobalclimate.org)
The leader of the Labour Party, Ed Miliband has warned that the NHS will be the defining issue at the next general election which is likely to be in 2015. To an extent, Ed is right however what is clear is that the Health and Social Care Bill is deeply unpopular with many within the NHS and beyond.
The National Health Service in Britain does need reforming, we need more doctors and nurses assessing patients rather than tied up with red tape and paperwork. I know from having spoken to a number of nurses that a large amount of their time is used by simply filling in endless amounts of forms. Some which is of course necessary and some which isn’t.
There needs to be an end to waste within the NHS but we have to be clear the NHS is a jewel in Britain’s crown. Many prominent Conservatives such as Lord Tebbit have opposed the Bill which is currently in the House of Lords. It is effectively privatisation of the NHS which is why so many Royal Colleges have come out to oppose the reforms.
The NHS is too much of an important institution to be used for party politics which is why we must act and call on the Government to drop these ghastly reforms. As I blogged about in 2010, the then leader of the Opposition David Cameron met with ‘Nurses for Reform’ in his private office. A group which seeks full privatisation of the NHS. One of Cameron’s close friends Dan Hannan MEP called the NHS a “60 year mistake”. And just before the general election in 2010, the now Health Secretary Andrew Lansley received a £21,000 donation from John Nash, Chairman of Care UK to his private office.
I know a lot of Conservative and Liberal activists oppose the Bill but it has to go further, it is they and the public who need to put pressure on the Prime Minister to abandon these plans and to go back to the drawing board. The Labour Health team particularly in the House of Lords have worked tirelessly to put pressure on the PM to drop the Bill. Already over 150,000 people have signed the government e-petition too.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron is holding an emergency meeting about the NHS reforms following calls for him to drop the Bill and remove the Secretary of State for Health. However it has emerged that such Royal Colleges as the Royal College of GPs have not been invited to the meeting, presumably because they oppose the reforms?
Let us not use the NHS for party political point scoring. It is far too important for that. The NHS has helped millions and continues to do so. We don’t want a similar system to that used in America which has resulted in 45 million Americans unable to pay for medical care. The Prime Minister didn’t just make a promise to the Conservative voters at the general election not to cut the NHS, he made a promise to the people of Britain.
The controversial Health and Social Care Bill is gradually passing through Parliament, the Bill would reorganise the way healthcare is delivered in England and Wales. If the bill is passed as it currently stands it would abolish Primary Care Trusts and introduce NHS commissioning boards. Your GP will become an accountant and commissioner fighting for the cheapest possible care for the patient. The bill is the most significant change to health legislation since the NHS was created in 1948.
Critics of the Bill argue it is the privatisation of the NHS, whilst supporters argue it is the change the health service needs to reform and modernise. Today the bill is at the committee stage in the House of Lords – it is likely the Bill will pass the remaining stages and become law. Unite the Union have today issued a press release following an investigation which shows that a number of Conservative Peers with private healthcare links and who hardly ever bother to turn up to vote in the House of Lords – have voted in favour of the Health Bill. Such peers include Baroness Bottomley, Lord Ashcroft and Lord Coe.
The campaign group ’38 Degrees’ instructed lawyers to analyse the Health and Social Care Bill and it has to be said it does show basic privatisation and the removal of the NHS as it is today – a truly national health service free at the point of use. The campaign group found that “The bill will remove the duty of the Secretary of State to provide or secure the provision of health services which has been a common and critical feature of all previous NHS legislation since 1946. This is the means by which Parliament ensures the NHS delivers what the public want and expect. Furthermore, a “hands-off clause” will severely curtail the Secretary of State’s ability to influence the delivery of NHS care to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare possible.” You can read the report here.
Those of you who read my blogs may remember a blog I published last year about David Cameron’s private meeting with a group which seeks to privatise the NHS. At the time David Cameron was leader of the opposition, he invited into his private office in the House of Commons, Dr Helen Evans the Director of Nurses for Reform. She was invited for an hour long meeting to give Mr Cameron her ideas on the privatising the NHS. After conducting some research and looking into the board of directors at Nurses for Reform, I managed to link the group directly to the Conservative Party. You can read the blog here.
Writing in the book ‘What next for Labour?’ the President of the Royal Society for Public Health and former Health Minister, Lord Hunt states that “the most recent British Social Attitudes survey showed that satisfaction with the NHS is at the highest level ever. When Labour entered office in 1997, only a third of people (34%) were satisfied with the NHS. Yet by 2009, satisfaction stood at 64%, the highest level since the survey began.”
That goes to show that, no the NHS is not perfect, but it is working as it is. One thing is clear, we in Britain are extremely proud of our NHS; it is a national institution that we don’t want to see destroyed. We don’t want to live in a country where wealth determines access to care. I hope the government reconsiders this bill.