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Reforms 'will turn clock back to the 1930s'

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Plans to reform the NHS could return healthcare provision to the days of the 1930s and 40s, one of Britain’s leading doctors have warned.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the British Medical Association’s hospital consultants committee, criticised health secretary Andrew Lansley’s plan to make NHS hospitals compete with private companies.

Opening NHS care in England to “any willing provider” could result in the closure of local hospitals and see some patients denied care by private providers because they are expensive to treat, he said.

The Health and Social Care Bill, currently going through parliament, will see £80 billion of the NHS budget handed to GPs, enabling them to commission services.

Dr Porter told the Guardian: “Very deliberately the government wishes to turn back the clock to the 1930s and 1940s, when there were private, charitable and co-operative providers.

“But that system failed to provide comprehensive and universal service for the citizens of this country. That’s why health was nationalised. But they’re proposing to go back to the days before the NHS.”

He said the changes could unintentionally lead to a “patchwork provision” of healthcare, with some hospitals offering fewer services and worst-hit patients having to travel longer distances for treatment.

The doctor fears patients who are less profitable to treat, such as people attending A and E and those with chronic conditions, will be left to the care of the NHS.

But health minister Simon Burns told the paper: “We are modernising the NHS so we can offer patients high-quality care and improved health outcomes. Doing nothing is not an option.

“We want patients to choose the best care to suit them, but that does not mean a compromise in quality. Only those who meet rigorous quality standards will be able to provide services.”

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  • 4 Comments

Readers' comments (4)

  • We do need changes. I spent some time with a Director of Finance giving him views on cost savings. Complete waste of time. But they will pay Consultants and Mangers large salaries and make cuts on nurses. Although some nurses leave a lot to be desired, from the Tv documentary last week on the care of the dying. Health care should it be free to all? Should not people reside in the country and pay taxes for a period of time before being entitled to all care free at source, which can be rather costly.

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  • I wonder how long it will be before we will be paying for our health care like in countries such as America and Australia?

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  • there are various ways of paying for health care. in the uk we pay out of our income tax. we wouldn't have to pay twice so whether we pay tax or from our pockets should not in theory make any difference but we would have to make sure that we do not loose out as a result of the changes.

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  • there are various ways of paying for health care. in the uk we pay out of our income tax. there seems to be considerable confusion over this and some people are under the misapprehension that it is free. it is only free at the point of delivery as we have already paid for it. only those who do not earn enough to pay taxes or minors are under no obligation to pay but the whole idea of solidarity is that those in a position to pay (tax deduction) pay for these other groups. we wouldn't have to pay twice so whether we pay tax or from our pockets should not in theory make any difference but we would have to make sure that we do not loose out as a result of the changes.

    the first comment above - those entering the country needing urgent medical attention also fall into the above categories. If they intend to stay and work in the UK it would not be feasible for them to wait until they start paying taxes if they fall ill in the meantime!

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