"We're going to make the NHS better for patients."
The government say they want to make the NHS fairer, yet much indicates the opposite will be true. If the health bill is passed, a ‘postcode lottery’ culture will emerge where patients may have to travel to different locations to receive the best treatment. With the scrapping of PCTs, the government has allowed disparities and inequality to occur within the NHS, whereby money and profit are the dominant factors in determining effective treatment. As a result, GPs and hospitals can be more selective of who they treat. And if patients don’t have the money, they would be expected to travel elsewhere for treatment within their price range
The NHS Atlas of Variation has recently published a report documenting the inequality within the system and suggests the proposed bill will fragment the NHS further, making the postcode lottery a long-term reality for patients. It highlights startling facts such as dementia patients in North Lancashire receiving 25 times as many anti-dementia drugs than a patient living in Kent. Furthermore, NHS Diabetes Director, Anna Moron, revealed that people with diabetes are six times more likely to have a major lower limb amputation because of where they live. She says the postcode lottery system is “unacceptable” and calls for a more integrated health service.
The inequality doesn’t stop there. People with enough money can effectively queue jump by paying for private treatment. All these factors will lead to a lack of trust in local GPs.
Allied to the claim that the reforms will make the NHS fairer, is the mantra that it will give patients more choice. However, according to The King’s Fund, more choice doesn’t necessarily mean happier patients. It’s clear that patients favour a decent local hospital ahead of the choice of alternative providers. Of course they want to influence their treatment, or have options if the local hospital has a long waiting list. However, a market in health care is not something patients are asking for, and doesn’t guarantee improving the quality of the service.
Instead of more choice, it is the simplicity of the NHS that makes it so popular with patients. This was shown in a2011 survey conducted by British Social Attitudes, with 64% of the British public either very satisfied or quite satisfied with the NHS. This is the highest it’s been since the survey began in 1983, and satisfaction has continued grow since in 2002.