12 July 2010
The NHS white paper is an ‘untested, expensive exercise in political dogma’ that will herald greater privatisation of the health service, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today.
Unite accused the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, of backtracking on a Conservative pre-election pledge that there would be no more major reorganisations of the health service, as the white paper was unveiled.
The white paper sets out plans to handover £80 billion of the NHS budget to GPs who will decide whether the patient is treated at a NHS hospital; a private company, such as Bupa; or a charity with specialist knowledge, such as Marie Curie.
Unite’s national officer for health, David Fleming, said: ”This is an untested, expensive Trojan Horse in political dogma that will give private companies an even greater stake in the NHS – this way of operating has already happened in the USA.”
Unite said there were a number of questions that needed to be answered:
- What experience have England’s 35,000 family doctors got to undertake this vast commissioning exercise? And do they want to?
- What training and equipment will they be given when this new system – the biggest shake-up of the NHS since foundation in 1948 – is imposed on them?
- What will the increased transactional costs – both billing and invoicing – cost the health service?
David Fleming said that already GPs surgeries and health centres have contracts with third sector organisations and private companies. This could mean that private companies getting their hands on even more NHS money.
Said David: ”Billions of pounds – estimated to be £20 billion annually in England – are already being squandered on the so-called transaction costs of the market; money that could be much better spent on frontline services.
Unite has serious concerns about the White Paper and there should be a public debate on the implications of these market-driven reforms. Why is the NHS always just one reorganisation away from perfection?
Before the election, the Tories promised no major reorganisation of the health service – within three months that pledge to the British people, the majority of whom did not vote for further privatisation of the NHS – has been broken. So much for the new politics.”