What future the NHS?

Yesterday at the Hay Festival I heard Raymond Tallis deliver a strong attack on the coalition government’s ‘redisorganisation’ of the NHS in England. The Health and Social Care Act 2012 has opened the NHS to the market in unprecedented fashion. Tallis talked of the dominance of private providers on clinical commissioning groups, and gave examples of patients being cherrypicked by organisations more concerned with profit than with meeting need. He also contrasted the upheaval with pre-2010 general election promises by both the Conservatives and the LibDems not to unleash major top-down change on the health service.

Tallis was critical of his own profession (medicine) for having failed to coordinate opposition to the legislation as it worked its way through parliament. He did, though, pick out and praise Clare Gerada of the RCGP for leading the resistance. I’m aware that the RCN was against the proposed Act, but I’m not sure that nurses as a group were particularly visible during the debates.

The first question from the audience asked what needs to be done to prevent the Act infecting Wales. The balance of politics here is different than in England, but it was a good question nonetheless.


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