Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will You Join Our Campaign to Halt the Fragmentation of Our NHS?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Will You Join Our Campaign to Halt the Fragmentation of Our NHS?

Article excerpt

I am very concerned about the way the private health sector is expanding at the cost of the National Health Service.

A clear demonstration of this was the Department of Health decision to give the go-ahead for the opening of a commuter NHS Walk-in Centre next to Newcastle Central Station to be run by a private (ie first obligation is shareholder profits) company.

Many hospitals are already facing mounting debts as private providers take the simple, profitable cases, leaving the more expensive, complex cases to the NHS. Staff can now be poached or transferred into the private sector, with a loss of job security and poorer terms and conditions.

Moreover, the public purse has paid to train these private sector staff, as the private sector does not view training as profitable. In other words, the public is paying over the odds for staff to work for private concerns.

Even the Government admits outsourcing is expensive. Lowest estimates put the cost at 10% more than the NHS. No-one would deny this money should be spent on faster care for patients, but surely not on simply transferring services out of the NHS.

We need to expand NHS services, not undermine them. If fast-track treatment centres are a good idea, why not continue to expand the few currently run by the NHS?

On July 28, the NHS chief executive issued instructions to Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities demanding major changes in the way primary care will be delivered in the future. Sir Nigel Crisp's letter specified that PCTs would become "commissioning-led organisations with their role in provision reduced to a minimum" and directs that a range of providers be introduced to ensure competition.

This marks a very significant change in the way community health services are to be delivered, threatening job losses and a major expansion of the private sector into our NHS. …

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