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NHS Reform: Privatisation?

The Health and Social Care Bill is being discussed on Monday (today). It has been criticised for being ‘privatisation through the back door’. Is it? In a haphazard way, yes.

But why should the sacred cow of the NHS be kept safe from the modern world? It should not. There is a misguided concept in this country that a National Health Service should be State funding of healthcare as well as State facilities (hospitals etc) of healthcare. However, to be a National Health Service, all that needs to provided by the State is the funding.

When the previous Labour government introduced the Primary Care Trusts and the Foundation Hospitals this was a step in the direction of privatising the facility of healthcare whilst retaining the funding.  The Coalition government, on the other hand, is partly privatising the funding by handing over 80% of the Health Budget to GPs, who are private individuals, running private practices.

What’s the problem?

The problem is that the NHS already has problems of outrageous charging for, sometimes unnecessary, treatments and overtime payments to consultants who already receive more than ample pay. These problems will become more pronounced as GPs are unaccountable to the public. They will have the power to send patients to the hospitals of their choice and prescribe treatments that are not ideal for the patient but are ideal for the GP and the drug company that sponsors them. It will increase costs and be detrimental to patient care.

What’s the solution?

Tough one, as it is becoming obvious that maintaining the post-war structure of the NHS is not conducive for the best quality of care. What could be done is to put in place a utilisation management mechanism – a tool that insurance companies use to inhibit excessive spending, so if there is excessively high spending on a patient, usually for unnecessary treatment, a red flag is raised in the system and it is investigated. This will ensure a targeted treatment plan for patients, so that they get the treatment they need whilst also bringing down costs. The drive to privatise hospitals and the facilities of healthcare can be brought forward, creating competition and normalising wages and prices. However, when dealing with National Healthcare, one can never get it perfect. The closest model to perfect is the mixed system in France.

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Categories: Uncategorized

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