Most toxic is the role of commercial competition, with Monitor acting as enforcer. By opening every NHS corner to \”any qualified provider\”, the whole service can be taken over by private companies, with a few token charities and mutuals. NHS hospitals, cherry-picked of lucrative work, risk bankruptcy when left with only complex cases. Stroke care surged ahead by creating pathways so ambulances take patients to designated units, open on rota, working together. Cancer and heart results improved dramatically, due to collaboration. Commercial competition prevents that – and drains away cash.
Dr Clare Gerada, of the Royal College of GPs, points to Nottingham, where 30 physiotherapy practices are now licensed to trade, breaking the close working with surgeons after operations. \”How are patients to choose? By colour of the wallpaper?\” she asks. \”And how can the Care Quality Commission possibly check the competence of every provider?\” The CQC, with a 30% cut, has just 900 inspectors to check 8,000 GP practices, 400 NHS trusts, 9,000 dental practices and 18,000 care homes. NHS instructions say: \”Commissioners cannot refuse to accept providers once they have qualified.\” So the bill opens the NHS to EU competition law. The GP Sarah Wollaston – a Tory MP – rightly calls the bill \”a hand grenade thrown into the NHS\”.
It\’s not \”the right\” being conservative here, is it?