Thursday, 26 July 2012

The NHS Pledge

I have launched a survey tonight called the NHS Pledge.

The idea is to get as much support as possible for four statements that support a fair and equitable NHS. The changes happening to our NHS are very worrying as I have outlined in my previous postings and I am hoping this survey will get huge support which will make politicians and policymakers sit up and listen. We really must do all we can to protect a fair and equitable NHS.

I would be grateful if you could have a look at the survey and then forward the link on to anyone you know. The more support we can get the better. Please do send the link far and wide.

This is the website link which you can click and also copy and paste in order to send on to friends via email.

Many thanks indeed,


Sunday, 22 July 2012

When a piece of plastic makes all the difference

My sister lives in South Africa. A country with huge variations in standards of living. It is also a country with huge differences in health care. Some of this is due to the hangover from apartheid but they have a radically different system of healthcare in South Africa. High quality publicly provided and funded healthcare is a basic human necessity and it needs to be this way across the world - but sadly this is not the case.

In South Africa there are 43 infant deaths per 1000 live births compared to 5 infant deaths per 1000 live births in the UK. Average life expectancy is South Africa is 50 years whilst in the UK it is 80 years.

I saw my sister last week for the first time in a few years and we decided to go out for a bite to eat. Just before we left she was rifling through her bag saying she had lost something. I asked her what she was looking for and she said she couldn't find her 'medical insurance card'. She told me this was the card she used to receive her healthcare in South Africa and when abroad. She always carried it with her. She had completely forgotten I had free access to high quality healthcare in the UK having lived for 10 years in a country with such shocking inequities in healthcare.

It made me realise once more what a precious institution the NHS is. Available to all, no matter what your income or background is or your status in society. This was the original ethos of the NHS when it was created in 1948 - free for all, run by the state, with no interference from the private sector who have ulterior motives to boost shareholder profits. Does the Health Act make it more likely to see insurance based healthcare with some patients prioritised over others due to having 'better cover' - the excellent Colin Leys thinks so here - as do many other commentators.

We have seen in the past few days the spectre of private patients being prioritised over NHS patients - in the same hospital. This is in a private hospital that is also treating NHS patients but clearly treating them in two very different ways. Remember under the coalition Health and Social Care Act NHS hospitals are now able to use up to 49% of their beds for private patient income - which would see NHS patients waiting longer for treatment in a queue behind private patients.

The Conservatives didn't win the last election. The Liberal Democrats chose to support the Tory conceived Health Bill because senior members of their party (the Orange Book members) support expanding markets in healthcare. There was no mention of a huge NHS upheaval in political manifestos. Yet we saw one of the most radical overhauls of the NHS since its inception in 1948. Indeed the changes are so huge they are 'visible from space' - and that quote is from a man who should know.

We must maintain the pressure on our politicians to protect our NHS and ensure it is available to everyone no matter what their income, background or insurance status is.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Bankers' Bonus or Care for the Elderly?

We have just seen a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (full report here) which raised the issue of charging for NHS services and even for GP appointments - something that is roundly rejected by all those who wish to defend the NHS as a service available to all no matter what their background or income is. 

All this flows from the constant political dogma we hear that the NHS is 'unaffordable' and 'we can't continue like this'. The NHS has been told to 'save' £20bn - we have never been given robust evidence or reasons for this and they are seen by many as cuts. The £20bn 'efficiency savings' as they are called, were initially instigated under the New Labour government - a policy continued by the coalition. However the real reason for these austerity measures meted out on the NHS are now coming to light.

On the day we were told the country couldn't afford £2bn to care for our elderly when they are at their most vulnerable, we hear that the NHS had actually been in surplus last year. 

Now you would have thought this surplus would be ploughed back into improving patient care or even used to fund social care for our deserved elderly. But no! £1.4bn of the £1.7bn NHS underspend ('cuts') has been sent back to the Treasury to fund the banker induced economic collapse we see around us. So the NHS suffers while the bankers laugh all the way to the errrr.... bank!

This is a truly shocking story that deserves much wider coverage. Maybe it is a story the coalition would prefer not to elaborate on. After all they don't want to upset their friends in the city.