The Coalition should be honest about the risk of health care reform…
David Cameron and Andrew Lansley have faced fierce criticism from just about everyone over their Health Care Reforms. Some have even gone so far as to suggest Lansley should resign or be dismissed from Cabinet.
Whilst health care professionals, academics and other politicians appear incredulous over their reforms, the public is left wandering exactly what is going on and who to trust. It is one of the most controversial policies of the Coalition, yet there is a distinct lack of knowledge amongst those outside the public health sector. This lack of knowledge is hardly the public’s fault; the Bill was not mentioned in the 2010 Conservative manifesto, nor was it discussed in the Coalition agreement.
However, what is worrying is that the Bill will affect just about everybody in one way or another and, in some cases, will be a matter of life or death.
Two of the main criticisms of the Bill are that it will privatise the NHS and the cost of the reorganisation will be extortionate. The Conservatives are aiming to abolish Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities which will cost around £1 billion in the redundancies of approximately 21,000 staff; money neither the NHS nor the Government has to spare. More power will be given to NHS Foundation Trusts which have significantly more freedom in terms of finance and management than current NHS Hospital Trusts.
The Bill will abolish the cap on revenue from non-NHS sources meaning the Foundation Trusts can get funding from any private company they choose. Arguably, this could bring in much needed revenue for the NHS, which does cost the UK a significant amount of money, but it does leave the NHS at the mercy of private investors. Furthermore, it means that whilst one Foundation Trust in Norfolk, for example, may have a brilliant investor with no financial limits, a Foundation Trust in Preston could have a very limited budget and the area’s healthcare would be greatly damaged.
The NHS would steadily become answerable to and dependent on its private investors and with no centralised control or standards poorer areas would suffer which could go completely unnoticed by central Government.
Another major criticism of Lansley’s Heath Bill, as well as of the man himself, is the Risk Register. A risk assessment on the impact of the reforms was carried out and so far it seems only a few key Conservatives know the results of this. This has sparked speculation that the assessment contains a damning report on the costs, the detrimental long term impact and facts and figures that could turn the public against the Health Reform Bill.
Whilst the report may not actually be as bad as the press have made out, by continually refusing to make the document public they are casting doubts in the public’s mind and these are growing the longer he leaves it hidden, damaging their reputation further.
The way the Conservatives have approached the Health Bill seems rather childish. At the moment they are facing so much criticism they are coming across as stubborn children who determinedly see something through rather than admit they are wrong.
This is not child’s play though, these are people’s lives and someone is going to get hurt.
Stephanie Kleynhans is an English graduate who currently works for a Member of Parliament.