February 14, 2012

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The government's plans to re-organise the NHS are a big worry to patients, to doctors and to nurses.

There are big concerns that the Tories and Lib Dems are trying to privatise the health service and that this could mean longer waiting lists and hospitals selling beds to the private sector. 

 
The big worry, which I hear is of patients having to choose between paying to go private or waiting for many months for treatment if a bed is not available. The reality is that hospitals could have to sell up to half their beds to balance the books at the expense of patients who cannot afford to pay for treatment. 
 
GPs are being asked to become involved in the organisation of services in the NHS. Now it sounds great to have GPs deciding which services we need. But if GPs are spending their time running the services, who is going to treat their patients? Most GPs want to treat patients rather than become involved in management and administration, so the government is giving private healthcare companies the option of doing the management and admin work for the GPs. 
 
The trouble is that there are very few British private health companies with enough expertise to take on the running of services for GPs. So the government is turning to the United States. We all know that in America, people have to pay a fortune for health services or go without. Ten per cent of the money in American healthcare goes to the shareholders of private health companies. In this country that money is used to treat patients. But if American health companies start running health services in this country, their shareholders will want the same arrangements they enjoy in the United States. 
 
The changes to the NHS have had the support of the Conservatives and Lib Dems in parliament. Many people in this country remember stories from parents or grandparents about putting money aside for the doctor or worse choosing between paying the doctor or buying food. That is still the case for many Americans. 
 
Do we really want an American style, private health system in England? I rather think not, so remember that's what the Lib Dems are doing as part of their coalition with the Tories and support Labour's campaign to drop the Health and Social Bill.
 

On a similar subject, three out of four households are having to turn down their heating. Many poorer pensioners are among the hardest hit and the prices charged by the energy companies are a scandal. It can't be right in this day and age that pensioners and families on low incomes have to choose between heating and eating. 
 
Labour wants energy companies to have to put older pensioners on the lowest tariffs automatically. 
 
The deficit has to be cut but families on the lowest incomes who are in work are paying more of their incomes than those at the top. The cuts in tax credits for working families are going to make it much harder for people to either stay in work or to take a job because of the cost of child care. For many on low incomes, tax credits meant they could work because the tax credits paid for child care. It is surely right that our benefits system encourages people to want work. But this government is cutting most of the tax credits, which will mean for many people it will not be worth taking or keeping a job as the child care will cost more than they earn from working.
 

I said that the Tories and Lib Dems appear to be privatising the health service. In many places, health staff are also reporting increases in waiting  times because so much money is being spent on the re-organisation of the NHS.

Before the election, Mr Cameron said: "No more top down re-organisation of the health service." 
 
He has broken that promise with the support of the Lib Dems and has already cut services for patients. You really can't trust the Tories with the NHS, either the yellow Tories or the blue ones.