Dismantling the NHS !

The coalition government's plans for the NHS represent the final conversion of healthcare into something to be bought, with really good care going to those who can pay for it and only a defined 'package' of free treatments, of declining quality, for everyone else. 

What has already occurred with dentistry, physiotherapy, podiatry and other services will start happening across the board. 'Top-ups' and 'co-payments' will become standard. Some treatments will cease to be available freely on the NHS and have to be paid for - if you can afford it. 

It's already happening all over England, as staff and services are cut to meet the government's demand for £20 billion 'savings' over the next five years. GPs are being told to refer many fewer patients to specialists. 

NHS North London has decided to cut back on cataracts and hip and knee replacements. The government's plans mean that this will become the norm, not just one-off cuts justified as a response to a crisis. Under the new plans, by 2014 NHS hospitals will no longer be answerable to the taxpayers who have paid for them over the years, and will no longer have the overriding aim of providing the best possible healthcare for the their local community. 

By then they will all be businesses, competing with private hospitals and clinics for NHS patient income. To stay afloat financially they will have to cut costs, reduce staff, lower the 'skill mix', reduce levels of pay, focus on profitable treatments and neglect or even abandon high-cost and unrewarding ones in order to match the for-profit sector. There will also be many fewer of them. 

The aim is to take chronic care out of hospitals and deal with it in non-hospital settings - 'super-surgeries' or clinics, largely owned and run by private companies. It will be a healthcare market, very like that in the US. 

This story sent in by our friend Geoff more here.  


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