So now it begins! The right wing clamour to charge for ALL NHS services! Consequence and next step of privatisation - the US system of healthcare!
Shocking you may say, but one of the most shocking things about this report is that it comes from a Labour Party Lord! One of the authors – Labour’s Lord Norman Warner argues NHS funding from general taxation should rise only in line with inflation to ensure health does not drain funds from other public services.
The former Labour health minister has called for British citizens to pay a £10 per month “NHS membership charge”, as part of a suite of proposed reforms intended to prevent the health service “starving the rest of the public sector of resources”.
Despite claims from the Dept of Health that they don’t agree with this principle, it must be remembered that it was Cameron who promised no top-down re-org of the NHS, and promptly privatised it!
The report by the right-wing think-tank, 'Reform', details how patients would ‘join’ the NHS at a cost of £10 per month, in addition to having to pay for many hospital procedures; with hospital stay costing £10 per night for all patients! This could raise between £93million and £196million a year in additional revenue claims the think-tank.
But who are 'Reform'? Well, they consist of G4S, Serco, Sodexo, Accunture, City Of London, major private healthcare companies and tax dodgers Vodafone. Whilst there will be no surprise there, the fact that Blair's government and Lord Warner was involved with them and that Blair's NHS strategy was developed with not only 'Reform' but with Tory MPs Steven Dorell and Simon Burns; is another matter altogether.
The current Labour leadership is also involved with the right wing organisation. Indeed it is this fake charity that urged Milliband to remove the influence of the Trade Unions from the Labour Party, and as we know that is precisely the road that Milliband is going down.
Reform's report says: “By the end of the next Parliament, providing there was the political will, it is possible to envisage these changes yielding over £6billion a year.”
It further argues that NHS funding through taxes should not rise above inflation and any shortfall could be made up by increasing prescription charges or higher taxes on alcohol, tobacco and sugary foods.
Dr Louise Irvine, a London GP and prospective MEP for the National Health Action Party, is quoted by the Daily Express as saying:
“I am actually quite shocked the think tank has come up with this. It will definitely hit the poorest the hardest – £10 a month may not seem a lot for some people but it is a huge amount for others.”
In the same article, Patients’ Association chairman Dr Mike Smith warns:
“These proposals would undermine a founding principle of the NHS that everything should be free at the time of need.
If they took money away from hospitals and used it to fund community health services you would cut accident and emergency visits by 40 per cent.
A lot of hospital patients are older and they want care in the community, but are forced to take up acute care beds costing four times as much.
They have paid into the NHS their entire lives and now they need it we are telling them they have to pay again.”
The Nursing Times reminds readers that Lord Warner was a healthcare advisor to Tony Blair. Given that fact and that Blair’s government introduced the principle of NHS Foundation Trusts, which many people see as the pre-cursor to the privatisation of the NHS or at least an enabler to Cameron’s campaign to abolish the NHS, as it was when he became PM; it is no surprise that a report which he co-wrote, would come up with the idea of an NHS that charges for its services, including life-saving procedures and treatment.
The same article says that the report suggests the current care delivery model is outdated, unduly costs the NHS, and “limits many people’s potential to live longer and healthier lives”.
Commenting further on the report:
It recommends that almost all current hospital sites be maintained but with many of them remodelled as primary care centres providing more integrated care, with the fewer specialist centres offering round-the-clock consultant cover.
Ring-fenced funding for the NHS also comes in for criticism, with the suggestion that it is excessively hospital-dominated, unaffordable and a drain on other areas of the public purse.
“All politicians allowed the NHS to overdose on higher budgets without shifting more care closer to home and concentrating our specialist services on fewer, safer, more highly skilled, 24/7 centres,” said Lord Warner.
The Nursing Times article concludes with a comment from the health service Trade Union:
Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said:
“It would be the end of a health service free at the point of delivery for all those in need.
Immediate savings could be made to the NHS by stripping out this obsession with turning the health service into a market place for private healthcare companies, when the £30bn funding crisis is looming.”
Today, a press release from Labour Party HQ was issued, but little comment by the party or the Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, was evident at the time of this Unionsafety news item being published, instead it was left to Jamie Reed MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, being quoted in the press release as saying:
“This is not something Labour would ever consider. We believe in an NHS free at the point of use, and a Labour government will repeal David Cameron’s NHS changes that put private profit before patient care. The truth is that after wasting £3 billion on a damaging reorganisation and causing a crisis in A&E, it is David Cameron you can’t trust with the NHS.”
Source: Daily Express / Nursing Times / Unionsafety
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See also: The Dangers of Reform