Thursday, 28 March 2013

Campaigns to protect the NHS

BFTF has written a lot on the 2011 NHS Health and Social Care Bill, which has dramatically raised the risk of the NHS becoming a two tier Health Service - one tier for those who can pay, and one tier for those who can't.

For example:
Interview with Prof Ian Shaw on the NHS Bill
Report on a Broxtow Save the NHS meeting
Falsification of data at SERCO
Report on a talk on Financial Incentives for Healthcare
Challenging the BBC on their coverage of the NHS Bill
This is what is wrong with the NHS Bill

This post aims to look at some of the campaigns that have been run to protect the NHS.

Mar 2014 : A petition from 38Degrees directed at NHS England (who run the NHS) to get them to make public conflicts of interest and meetings with lobbyists.

Which is all well and good, but the main piece of evidence presented is an article in the Independent which claims that :
"NHS England commissioned a group called the Specialised Healthcare Alliance (SHCA) to consult with patients’ groups, charities and health organisations and produce a report feeding into its future five-year strategy for commissioning £12bn of services. But the SHCA has confirmed to The Independent that it is entirely funded by commercial “members”. Its director, John Murray, is also a lobbyist whose company lists some of the world’s biggest drug and medical device firms as clients."

The article goes to imply that there is a risk that drug companies are shaping NHS policy.

BFTF notes, however, that the SHCA is chaired by Baroness Wheeler (Lab) who appears to be a strong defender of the NHS.

Disappointed that 38 Degrees, and the Independent did not mention this fact.

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Jun 2013 : An e-petition calls on the Government to protect the NHS from being included in the US-EU Free Trade Agreement:

The NHS changes have been both promoted and fought as a national issue. However, they are actually part of the preparation for a corporate-interest US/EU Free Trade Agreement.

Healthcare has been specifically mentioned as a form of trade to be included in the “harmonising regulation” of the Agreement, which aims to prevent “future trade barriers” in keeping with the demands of transnational corporations.

Including the NHS in such a deal will effectively turn a globally-respected universal health service into a cash cow for transnational investors. Once such a trade deal has been agreed, the resulting privatisation will be irreversible.

We call on the government to ensure the NHS is exempted from the US/EU Free Trade Agreement as a condition of the UK’s agreeing to participate.

Clive Peedell of the NHA Party has also commented that :

"The NHS is being primed for transnational investors to buy up the most lucrative parts of the healthcare system, under a legal framework which also permits them to sue the UK government in the case of any 'backsliding'...

"..Canada has exempted its health service from trade agreements that its government has signed and has safeguarded its public health system. We need to do the same."

Dr Peedell called on the Prime Minister and the Laour Party to oppose the inclusion of the NHS in the trade deal adding that Labour's promise to repeal the NHS and Social Care Act was "meaningless and hollow" without opposition to the trade deal.

As well as signing the petition, BFTF has emailed the local MP and Conservative Party asking what committment they are making to exclude the NHS from the forthcoming trade deal.

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Mar2013: 38Degrees delivered a 350,000 signature online petition to Health Minister Norman Lamb MP protesting at the privatisation of the NHS. The petition (to all MPs and Lords) said:
Our NHS is precious – we don't want it privatised. Jeremy Hunt's plan to force local doctors to open up almost all NHS services to private companies is anti-democratic and breaks government promises made last year. Please ensure his plan, contained in the NHS Competition regulations (SI 257), is subject to a full debate and vote, on the floor of both Houses of Parliament. Please do all you can to ensure that they are defeated or withdrawn.

The petition was accompanied by a survey of peoples views (See here). The survey gave the Health Minister a very clear message and asked people which of the following messages the wanted to be passed on to the Health Minister:

We are pleased that the regulations have been rewritten, but we are worried that the new ones still don't properly meet earlier promises to not force GPs to privatise NHS services.
Strongly Agree 82%
Agree 14%
Disagree 1%

We would like the government to consider a further rewrite, to address these concerns fully.
Strongly agree 87%
Agree 10%
Disagree 1%

Failing that, we would like the government to address our concerns in the guidance it produces alongside these regulations this guidance must make it clear that GPs are free to choose to keep the NHS public.
Strongly Agree 87%
Agree 8%
Disagree 2%

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