They’ve chosen to grab Gordon Brown’s banner and charge forward with it. Except they aren’t looking to expand the services so direly needed within Britain’s borders. The expansion isn’t about finding new staff, doctors, nurses, radiologists or specialists with their relevant networks of support crews so that waiting times can be reduced and maintained at acceptable levels.
What the coalition government, through the Department of Health and UK Trade Investment wants to do is see the NHS “Brand” sold overseas. They want to take on the giants of global health care, most of whom have their bases in the USA’s private medicine system, and convince other nation’s citizens to either come to these shores for treatment, or to visit new specialist NHS centres abroad. The coalition is declaring that the UK should take on the US in healthcare and “beat them at their own game”.
The problem with this is that we’re not in the same game; one is private and one is public, and to get on the same field a lot of new players need to be bought into the team. New players mean expanding budgets, but that’s not on offer, cutbacks and “efficiency savings” are what are in the prospectus.
The fly in this particular ointment is easiest to highlight by looking at waiting times, and what those delays truly mean. If the NHS was operating below capacity across the board there would be no waiting times. It isn’t. Almost every procedure has a waiting time; many of these periods are outside of the UK government’s own guidelines.
The situation that presently exists therefore is simple, there’s a health service that’s overstretched, underfunded and in many cases lacking equipment that doctors or administrators have requested; this equipment varying from the preferred to the essential.
The NHS 2012 version also lacks the ability to properly treat or care for many in our society, not through the fault of its employees, but as a direct result of ongoing Westminster policy that has spanned successive governments. That policy diktat has been driven on two fronts, by lobbyists from the City and conflict of interest internally e.g., Cherie Blair stood to profit from the medical system changes. David Cameron is continuing the privatisation.
Why would any government, supposedly elected to serve its majority franchise appear to act against the best interests of that electorate? The answer here is relatively simple; in Westminster the electorate has a voice every five years or so, the remainder of the time the party’s backers and financiers has the ear of the politicians.
The two may at first appear unrelated with respect to this latest NHS edict, but that’s only until one considers the NHS is a public institution, it’s a service industry which is supported by tax money.
This is the first major nudge in preparing the way for the NHS to undergo full privatisation, because it requires the NHS to acquire skill sets it doesn’t presently possess in any depth at all in order to move it from public to private funding. It will require to have individuals on board who are skilled at processing insurance, billing, customer service reps. The NHS will need salespeople, it will need advertising revenues, and all of these will need departments and budgets.
The only answer that can be logically and consistently extrapolated from the actions of Westminster is that this is not about patient care, for it will not benefit those within these islands unless through adoption of a de-facto two tier NHS, a benefit for the higher net worth individual alone. Essentially it means that with a reducing budget and these extra demands on the system that the funds available for British patent care will be reduced even further than that presently proposed.
The thought process continues in that the only reason to initiate such departments for extra-national requirements would be if there was a need to have such departments on an ongoing basis.
The only need to have such departments on an ongoing basis is to facilitate full privatisation.
Every logical argument states that this is not about patient care, but about providing another eventual revenue source to the City; that one day the NHS will be effectively, fully privatised. Private companies will operate the NHS and they will do so for the good of their shareholders, and one can expect that the good of the investors will normally come before the good of the patient.
When the day comes, and on current evidence it soon will, that the NHS obtains substantial income from private sources then Westminster expenditure will reduce correspondingly.
A reduction in England equates to a reduction in the other nations. The policy will have to be implemented universally, or other programs suffer. This latest suggestion which would be excellent in an organisation operating significantly below capacity instead becomes simply a few more stitches picked from the fabric of Social Britain.
Unfortunately, Westminster just doesn’t seem to give Atos.