Health Bill – must be no way back for coalition's destructive NHS plan

5 April 2011

Unite response to Health Select Committee report into commissioning health services

Reacting to the publication today (Tuesday) of the report by the influential cross-party health select committee, Unite the union said that the coalition’s chaotic changes to the NHS are now so widely reviled they cannot be saved by the government.

The select committee has warned that the forthcoming changes lack accountability and that the secretary of state cannot abandon his role as the politician responsible for the performance of the health service. It also warns that the new system of GPs taking charge of both purchasing and providing care could result in serious conflicts of interest. The report is the latest in a long line of criticism of the government’s health and social care bill.

Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary said:

“The committtee raises profound questions about the government’s competence when it comes to the NHS. It rightly warns that massive £20 billion cuts to health spending at a time of rising care demands is a fundamental challenge to the NHS’s operations. To then pile a chaotic, bureaucratic restructuring of the service on top of massive cuts can only be regarded as irresponsible. Far from improving our NHS this government is setting it on the road to certain ruin – and privatisation.

Trust is now the issue at the heart of this debate. The government promised no top down reforms to the NHS but is forcing through changes so huge that, as the NHS chief executive said, they can be ‘seen from the moon’. They promised no cuts to health spending, but we now have the repugnant situation of queues for care growing while billions of taxpayers’ money is being spent making doctors and nurses redundant. They said that the NHS would be safe in their hands yet within months the service we know and trust will disappear with patients left to negotiate a bewlidering array of providers if they need treatment when all they want is one-stop care.

With not one single professional body commending these changes and not one iota of proof that they will deliver any improvement in health, the only conclusion that can be drawn from the government’s continued support for this bill is that they are totally committed to destroying the NHS.

There is no case for the bill. There is no way it can be redeemed. It will never have the trust of the people. It must be dropped now and every emphasis put on stopping patients suffering from these horrendous spending cuts.”