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10 November 2010
MPs should ask 10 vital questions about the NHS when the House of Commons debates the comprehensive spending review (CSR) and its impact on the health service tomorrow (Thursday 11 November), Unite, the largest union in the country, has urged.
As MPs get their first opportunity to debate the CSR with its £81 billion of cuts and the knock-on adverse effects to the NHS, Unite believes that the 62-year old NHS won’t reach the current pension age of 65 in its present form – and that it will just become a marketing logo.
The commons adjournment debate tomorrow has been spearheaded by the Labour MP for Easington, Grahame Morris.
In a new Unite briefing document - Necessary reform or destructive dogma?, the union sets out its opposition to giving £80 billion of the NHS budget to GPs' consortia, as it believes that the GPs will have to buy in private sector firms to operate the new system of commissioning healthcare.
Grahame Morris MP said: "The government is not keeping the promises it made to NHS patients and staff to protect NHS healthcare funding and guarantee a real increase every year throughout this parliament.
"The cost of the reorganisation and the privatisation of the health budget, on top of the £1 billion being taken to plug the hole in social care means spending on health will actually fall."
The questions that Unite - which has 100,000 members in the health service -would like MPs to raise during the debate include:
Are these reforms necessary for the future functioning of the NHS – or are they ideologically-driven, reflecting the coalition’s knee-jerk dislike of the state?
Will they pave the way for the unfettered, under-regulated takeover of the NHS by the private sector?
Is the dogmatic desire to expand private provision of services coming before the needs of the patients i.e. tax payers who will continue to fund the privatised health service?
Why are these proposals not sought or supported by health professionals, such as the British Medical Association, and little understood by - or indeed explained - to the public?
Will they reduce access to health care to a lottery; see those with chronic or long-term conditions being at the mercy of their GP’s budget; and hurt health outcomes more generally?
To what extent will they undo the significant progress made in improving the NHS, much appreciated by the public?
Why is this horrendous deployment of billions of pounds of public money - estimated to be about £3 billion - being pushed though at a time when severe cuts are being made across the public sector?
Will these untested changes put NHS staff in the frontline dealing with anxious, upset patients who can not get the care they seek?
Allied to reforms attacking the ethos of the NHS, will these changes batter staff morale and hurt the training and retention of world-class staff?
Who will take responsibility for the new ‘heath system’ when the Department of Health has ceded its role to the new quango, the ‘NHS Commissioning Board’?
Unite's national officer for health Karen Reay said: "As most other privatisations have too clearly proved, costs of the service will rocket; administration will become less efficient; the public will lose out; some private companies will make a mint – and the taxpayer, while left to pick up the tab, will become alienated from the service.
"These 'reforms' will end more than 60 years of social progress in this country, underpinned by the NHS. Under this government, the NHS will not see 65 years of age - and that is a tragedy for everyone."