Unite has responded to the Future Forum report today by claiming that NHS privatisation is still on track, despite protests by health professionals to the Future Forum “listening exercise”.
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said that the NHS had been through an unprecedented year of uncertainty – but the report of the Future Forum, unveiled today, will do nothing to quell the concern of health professionals and patients.
It added that the coalition’s year in power had caused havoc with the NHS, which had just received its best patient satisfaction survey for a generation.
Unite said that the Future Forum had done some good work in exposing the flaws in the controversial Health and Social Care Bill, but the pace of privatisation had only been slowed, not discarded - which will not meet the concerns expressed by the Liberal Democrats at their spring conference.
The recommendation that Monitor’s duty to promote ‘competition’ should be removed in favour of ‘choice’ for local people still left question marks about what this exactly means in relation to the role of the private sector in the NHS.
Unite national officer for health, Rachael Maskell said: ‘The problem with Monitor is that it will now promote choice, competition and collaboration - all of which are contradictory aims.’
‘The hybrid mess that Monitor will become will do to the NHS what other botched regulatory bodies have done to other public services - from rail to social care. Unless patient care comes first, then Monitor will fail patients - and our politicians will have failed them too.’
Unite repeated its call for the bill to be scrapped and that a commission of genuinely independent experts be set up to conduct a proper review of what is needed for the long-term needs of the NHS.
Rachael Maskell said: ‘The Future Forum has come up with a series of placebos; suggesting tinkering with the timescale, playing down the involvement of private healthcare companies, and the health secretary remaining ultimately in charge of the NHS.’
‘The way that David Cameron and health secretary Andrew Lansley will interpret the Future Forum’s recommendations is that the pace of the privatisation of the NHS will be slowed down, but not abandoned – that’s the crux.’
‘The bill’s troubles will continue if the coalition persists in sidelining the legitimate concerns of health professionals, patients and the public.’
‘The Liberal Democrats have to be aware that the privatisation train – which will turn into the gravy train for private healthcare companies – has not been derailed, but just delayed.’