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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Keep our NHS Public

Save Our NHS

A little "off topic" but important for those in the UK who work in or use the NHS.

Over the last couple of weeks & in particular at the Labour Party Conference there has been debate about increasing the use of the private sector to deliver elective diagnostic tests and treatments. This campaign has been set up to try put pressure on ministers to keep the NHS as a public sector institution.

If you are interested the campaign "launch statement" is below, which can be seen and signed on the web site at:

Keep our NHS public!
The NHS stands at a crossroads. For nearly 60 years Britain has enjoyed a National Health Service that strives to be comprehensive, accessible and high value for money. Now, government reforms threaten both the ethos of the NHS, and the planned and equitable way in which it delivers care to patients.

At the heart of the changes is the creation of a market that welcomes profit-driven international corporations who answer to shareholders, not patients. This market will compel hospitals and health professionals, who have traditionally cooperated to deliver healthcare, to compete with each other and with the private sector. Far from supporting the NHS, the private sector is in competition with it, and is already draining away resources and staff.

If these reforms continue the nature of the health system will change

* Income and profits will increasingly come before patient needs and clinical considerations.
* Greater inequalities in healthcare will appear, as profitable services and patients attract money at the expense of unprofitable ones.
* Forced market competition among NHS hospitals and primary care will break up the NHS as a network of collaborating bodies that share resources and information. Our integrated NHS GP service will be lost. There will be winners and losers, with some units and even entire hospitals having to close. We are already seeing job losses and bed closures in NHS hospitals.
* Even more of the new money allocated to health will be diverted to shareholders and company profits, and wasted on the huge administrative costs associated with establishing and running a market.

There is no evidence that these reforms will improve the health service. And in spite of increased spending on healthcare, and government commitment to "patient choice", the end result of these reforms will undermine the choice that is most important to patients - access to comprehensive, trustworthy, and local health services.

The situation is grave. The value of the NHS is immense and cannot be mirrored by the private sector. It must be kept in public hands, serving the interests of all patients and the broader public, not the private healthcare industry.

We therefore call on organisations, healthcare workers, patients and the public to campaign to protect the NHS from further privatisation and fragmentation, and to keep our NHS public.


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