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Eight NHS services open to private firms


Plans to open up £1.2bn of NHS services to competition - including ulcer and wound care and continence services - could cause long-term uncertainty for nurses.

The government said last week its plan for patients to choose from “any qualified provider” would be brought in more slowly, following the “pause” in the NHS reforms. 

However, managers across the country have been told to begin opening up eight community and mental health services - including those for back and neck pain, wheelchairs for children and talking therapies - from next year.

The Department of Health said the plan was “designed to make services more responsive to patient choice”.

It said locally or nationally set prices for services would prevent providers from undercutting the NHS and that making services “contestable” would improve efficiency.

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said the plan “leaves the door wide open for privatisation” and would make patients “little more than consumers”.

Private firms or charities delivering the services would be regulated by the Care Quality Commission and Monitor. Neither companies nor the NHS would be guaranteed income or activity, which will be determined by patients’ choices.

Unison warned nurses would face “long-term instability and uncertainty”, with organisations struggling to survive. Staff employed by private providers would have worse pay and conditions and their jobs will be at risk if firms collapsed, it said.


Readers' comments (6)

  • yes please maybe i could work again!!!!

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  • how will this be more cost effective than the current system?

    will more patient choice reduce waiting times?

    what impact will this have on the quality of services and care provided?

    what employment conditions and packages will be available to nurses?

    how will this impact on career structure and CPD and it its quality?

    how will safety and quality of services provided and care delivered be monitored and regulated?

    will patients be provided with a seamless service?

    as for choice, what happens to those patients in need of urgent care who are not in a position to make their choice? who makes their decisions for them without being biased and what would be the quality of these decisions regarding ethics, cost, best clinical outcomes, etc.?

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  • When I was a kid, I mean a really young kid, I used to write a letter to Santa every year. I would look through the latest catalogues and pick the toys that would make my life complete. I would write a list, put it in my letter to Santa and then wait for Christmas to come along, all the while dreaming about playing with the toys that were coming my way.

    Except, a little bit of me was a realist and new that the presents of my dreams (most years it was a Chopper - remember those?) would never arrive as my folks couldn't afford it.

    For the latest letter to Santa, I have been asking him to send me an effective nursing union with real leadership that doesn't simply sound like a puppet of the gvt.

    Because, you and I know, the gvt really did "listen", and we thought it was just a cynical window-dressing exercise. Not.

    The main reason the Americans are struggling to finance their huge debt is because of the spiraling healthcare costs from their private healthcare system. They spend a far greater proportion of their GDP on healthcare than we do, are are warning us to abandon our current course of action. However, blinded by the erroneous belief that private is always better, they march down a path from which there is no turning back.

    So, I'll continue to write my letters to Santa for that union that does what it says on the tin, but that little bit of a realist in me knows that what I get will far far short of what I asked for.

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  • "So, I'll continue to write my letters to Santa for that union that does what it says on the tin, but that little bit of a realist in me knows that what I get will far far short of what I asked for."

    So sad when one becomes old enough to realise that Santa does not exist but if the letters persist, and are numerous enough, he may still be able to influence the unions to get us what we need for our patients and for our profession but as he has so many dreams to fulfill and a very short time over which to deliver his gifts there may be a very long wait, and as we are realists we have to accept that much patience will be needed. My only hope is that it will not affect lives and livelihood in the meantime.

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  • RIP NHS, goodbye and fare well high quality, caring health care.

    I cannot wait to get out of this country.

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  • Mike, are you still going to Australia? It seems a very long time since you first spoke about it.

    I am so glad, reading all the comments here, I spent most of my long and very happy career working in Europe. Like everywhere it had its drawbacks but these were outweighed by so many advantages.

    General Management only came to our uni. hospital in the mid 90s which turned it into a healthcare factory with a conveyor belt system for patients and nurses alike, but at least i could enjoy many more pre-management years there than in the UK and nurses were fully autonomous there before this disaster arrived and destroyed our philosophy, values and turned our ways of working and the high quality of care we delivered on its head and turned us into paper pushers who had to note down points for every encounter we had with a patient! (these had to be added up to determine staffing levels for the next day but which in practice never made the slightest difference to the number on duty!). As I am poor at maths I ended up spending more time in the office than nursing my patients!

    However, I now receive a generous pension from the NHS of £30 a month which gets lost in the exchange rate outside the EU!

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