"Doing nothing is not an option."
As the old saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don't fix it.” It’s right that people want to develop the NHS to improve its services. However, the overwhelming view is now that the changes the government are proposing threaten the unique strengths and recent improvements of the NHS.
Health experts have agreed for some time that the NHS will have to change to cope with an ageing population and greater calls on its service. In the future more people will be treated outside of hospital and services will have to coordinate far better with each other - most agree on this - but achieving this by further marketising the NHS and incresaing competition, as the governemt are proposing, is what is very much open to debate.
Instead of improving efficiency with a more streamlined service, health sector organisations such as the British Medical Association (BMA) warn that the restructuring will create a more complicated, expensive and unfair system based on competition and profits. Private firms are already queuing to take advantage of this opportunity, but there is virtually no evidence to show the benefit for patients.
Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said new management and quangos could “tangle” the health service in “more red tape and bureaucracy”.
Why gamble the future of our healthcare on huge untested changes? The current NHS is not, as the Prime Minister mistakenly described it, a “second rate” healthcare system. It has been judged by several recent academic studies, including the Commonwealth Fund, as one of the best in the world. One fact is clear: the NHS still provides exceptional value, with spending still below France, Germany and many others. Healthcare cost are rising worldwide, but the NHS as it currently operates, is better placed to cope than many other systems.
No one is suggesting doing nothing, of course the NHS needs to improve, but we should build on its strengths. They are the reason it has been so successful so far.
Even the management organisations that work closely with government have been sounding warnings that ploughing on with the biggest NHS shake up ever, at the same time as demanding massive £20bn savings, risks taking the NHS to breaking point. The public accounts committee even says the NHS shake-up ‘imperils’ the £20bn savings.
A mountain of critism has piled up against the bill. This is summed up aptly by a report in the Guardian likening the reforms to a Frankenstein-like experiment, which is untested, dangerous and has the potential to inflict harm on patients and staff.