Health Minister Andrew Lansley must do more than listen – he must hear and act on the barrage of criticism and opposition to the Health and Social Care Bill. This is the message from UNISON, the UK’s largest union, representing more than 450,000 health workers, in its response to the NHS ‘Listening Exercise’.
Christina McAnea, UNISON’s Head of Health, said:
“Andrew Lansley seems incapable of actually hearing the outcry from patients, public, staff, health experts, charities, health economists and even from within the coalition government.
“The public do not want a health service where people can buy their way to the top of the NHS queue, or where healthcare is rationed to make profits for private companies and their shareholders. We know that three quarters of bankruptcies in America are because of the high cost of health bills – no one wants the NHS to be dragged in that direction.
“The Government’s plans are riddled with conflicts of interest and undermine the accountability of the NHS to patients and the public. Patients will soon be priced out of care and see services, wards and hospitals lost without any arrangement to continue treatment.
“We believe the bill is too fatally flawed to be amended and should be dropped completely. “
UNISON’s key objections are:
The government’s plans put competition at the heart of the NHS not patient care.
The end of the cap on the number of private patients hospitals can treat will lead to less profitable NHS patients being pushed to the back of a very long queue.
The full-blooded market system will allow services, wards or even entire hospitals to be lost without the necessary contingency arrangements to protect continuity of care for patients.
The move to Any Willing / Qualified Provider will lead to instability and waste. It could even lead to less choice for patients in the longer term.
Plans to undermine NICE and bring about “medication tourism” will increase health inequalities and threaten value for money.