Health White Paper to "turn more NHS cash into private profit"
The Green Party has called into question the announcements that the private sector is to play an even greater role in the NHS. A week after NHS deficits, estimated to be around £1.2 billion, were announced (1), Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State for Health, will publish a new White Paper today that will turn more NHS cash into private profit. The paper, which contains many laudable suggestions to improve the health of patients such as increasing access to GPs in some areas, encourages private firms to take on more of this provision.
The paper proposes increased numbers of GP practices in poorer areas, providing a wide range of services as a planned shift away from hospital care. The Green Party welcomes the principle of shifting care closer to where people live, a principle that follows years of centralization of services.
Stuart Jeffery, Health Spokesperson for the Green Party said: "This government talks about increasing provision and shifting services away from hospitals, but how affordable will these proposals be? The NHS is facing a massive deficit which has been caused by poor financial planning by this government and they decide on further increases in provision without providing the money to pay for it.
"The proposals for increasing primary care in areas of need are applauded, however the government wants the private sector to fill this gap. The NHS is already putting high levels of funding into private companies that are making large profits, profits which are at the expense of core services. With the cash crisis delaying operations across the country the government hasn't understood the problem when it announces that it will give even more cash to the private sector.
"We are keen to see services that are provided closer to where people live and work and welcome the policies that do this. We are concerned about how the proposed health MOT might work: it might seem like a good idea but is likely to be ineffective without wider consideration of the causes of ill health and could be used to shift the blame of poor health onto individuals rather than considering wider issues. Of further concern is the backtracking on the reductions in GP workload with the suggestion that surgeries will now be opening longer. Clearly this will need further investment as well as more GPs, both of which are in short supply."