Cameron’s NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals

Dr. Ron Singer, a practising doctor and member of the Medical Practitioners Union - a part of Unite - on David Cameron's speech on the NHS reforms last week.

By Dr. Ron Singer, a practising doctor and member of the Medical Practitioners Union (part of Unite)

David Cameron’s “personal guarantees” on the NHS were presented as a significant and welcome shift in government health policy. But I am a doctor, with decades of experience in caring for NHS patients, and I cannot agree.

And for those Lib Dem members anxious to understand what these “pledges” mean in terms of their conference policy, the answer is a short one: nothing. Some of the “guarantees” the PM offered were not made at all, while others just restated existing policy.

Worse still, far from being welcome concessions, the substantive changes that were confirmed threaten to make the government’s health policy even more toxic.

A quick look behind the headline shows (pdf):

Promises to ensure no privatisation mean no such thing. There never was a plan to “sell off” the NHS; instead the plan is to make it extremely easy for the private sector to take over large parts of the service.

• The PM has defended plans to allow private companies to take over NHS functions and compete directly with the NHS.

There was no pledge to restore the Secretary of State’s duty to provide a comprehensive health service. Instead the speech defended existing proposals to allow local GP consortia to decide what treatments were available in their area, allowing a postcode lottery of care.

• The much-hyped promise on waiting times was no more than to keep the existing text of the NHS Constitution; there was never any proposal to change this in the first place.

• Despite the implication that the new health market enforcer, Monitor, would have its duty to promote competition changed, the PM simply re-stated the existing text of the Bill. So competition will have to be ‘cooperative’ – but not a word on putting care first.

Other parts of the prime minister’s speech give cause for further alarm:

• The pledge that Monitor will enforce “a level playing field” restates existing government plans to subsidise private providers by paying them a different NHS tariff. So the government will use our money to compensate private for their higher costs, like corporation tax.

They will effectively claim back their tax (and other costs) through a higher tariff – at our expense.

• A pledge to put one nurse and one consultant on each consortia board is muddled. It ignores the huge range of specialisms within medicine and nursing, excluding the other health professions making up around half of the clinical workforce and currently involved in decision making.

• “Clinical senates” simply add to costs and complexity while replicating structures that already exist. GPs are already complaining that the new system is creating a whole new bureaucracy.

• The abolition of the 2013 deadline for consortia to take over commissioning gives the appearance of flexibility but causes more problems – it’s simply another layer to the postcode lottery.

And still missing is a pledge that the Secretary of State will be accountable to Parliament – and to us – for the service our taxes fund. Far from being a step in the right direction, the prime minister’s announcements do nothing to address the criticisms of health professionals.

We will be charged with implementing these changes; but if we do not have the confidence that they will work, then they must go – and for the Liberal Democrats determined to stick to their NHS promises, they must give even greater cause for alarm.

Next week, when Professor Field’s report is published, we look forward to a brief conclusion: scrap the bill and start again.

28 Responses to “Cameron’s NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals”

  1. Save The NHS

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://bit.ly/lwSdcB

  2. UNISON - the union

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://bit.ly/lwSdcB

  3. Crimson Crip

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://bit.ly/lwSdcB

  4. Brit Lefit

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals: http://bit.ly/mf9UIE writes Dr. Ron Singer

  5. Julia Maria Wood

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://bit.ly/lwSdcB

  6. Tim Macpherson

    Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals: http://bit.ly/mf9UIE writes Dr. Ron Singer

  7. Jill Hayward

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://bit.ly/lwSdcB

  8. J P

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://bit.ly/lwSdcB

  9. Lynn Hancock

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/D7IBKqi

  10. For Fox Sake

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/D7IBKqi

  11. John Turner

    Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals: http://bit.ly/mf9UIE writes Dr. Ron Singer

  12. Tony Dowling

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://bit.ly/lwSdcB

  13. Michael

    Cameron’s NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals I Left Foot Forward – http://j.mp/iWH8QH

  14. Rosa Edwards

    Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals: http://bit.ly/mf9UIE writes Dr. Ron Singer

  15. Paul McGlynn

    Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals: http://bit.ly/mf9UIE writes Dr. Ron Singer

  16. Ed's Talking Balls

    Given that LFF claims to be fighting against old politics and media manipulation, I wonder when we can expect an article about the two Eds talking balls lately, with regard to deposing an election winner and installing an election loser?

    On the NHS, yes, it all looks like a mess. I think only the blindly partisan could even contemplate denying that. I just hope that by the time legislation passes, assuming it does, we are left with a health service which treats patients compassionately, effectively and efficiently.

  17. Clive Burgess

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/WkvF12y

  18. Richard

    Mr Boolox, can’t help but criticise, he really can’t. An article on the NHS and he begins his comment completely off the subject, just so the little acrid piss stains he leaves several times a day don’t go unnoticed. I genuinely feel sorry for people who can find nothing more constructive to do with their time.

  19. pauline doyle

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/4gQKQ3u

  20. Carolyn Anderson

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/4SefRlD

  21. Ed's Talking Balls

    You really have shown the way forward by using your own time so constructively to issue a devastating rebuttal. Well done, Dick.

  22. Ed's Talking Balls

    Incidentally (and before someone else points it out) I am a Conservative, John.

    That doesn’t however mean that I support the government on all its policies nor that I don’t care about the NHS. I do, and I believe that if Cameron wanted to undertake such radical changes to healthcare he should have put that to the electorate.

    In truth, John, I don’t know the ins and outs of the Bill. I’m not instinctively going to rail against private sector involvement; I think that debases the debate. However, that’s not to say that I think ‘public bad, private good’ either. Certainly not. It struck me as bizarre that the government was trying to introduce changes which doctors themselves don’t seem to want.

    So I (I’m going to use that word again…) hope that the ‘listening period’ will result in a good outcome. Sadly I’m not even going to waste my time writing to my MP. He didn’t bother replying last time and hasn’t replied to other constituents I know either (and, fair cop, he is a Tory!)

  23. mr. Sensible

    DR Singer, i haven’t seen the conclusions yet, but we’ve heard Cameron’s rhetoric on the NHS before, and it hasn’t been matched by reality.

  24. Unite the union

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/myw4yUA #saveourNHS

  25. Fred Chukkawakka

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/myw4yUA #saveourNHS

  26. DJE

    RT @leftfootfwd: Cameron's NHS speech does nothing to address criticisms of health professionals http://t.co/myw4yUA #saveourNHS

  27. John Jackson

    Ed’s Talking Balls – I should like to thank you for your response (post number 5) which is reasoned, thoughtful and not in the least bit tribal. I may be an optimist but I genuinely believe that the majority of people from acroos and believe that the majority of people

  28. John Jackson

    Ed’s Talking Balls – please excuse my previous incomplete posting (number 7); ‘more haste, less speed’ !

    As I was saying, I should like to thank you for your response (post number 5) which is reasoned, thoughtful and not in the least bit tribal. I may be an optimist but I genuinely believe that the majority of people from across the political spectrum support and value the NHS and the vital work that it does on OUR behalf.

    And in the spirit of reciprocal confession, I have to admit that I had you ‘pegged’ as a Conservative prior to your admission – but thank you for your honesty anyway !

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