As pressure on the service grows, even the Telegraph and Mail blast away at queues of ambulances stacked up outside bursting A&Es, with emergency admissions up by 35%. The loss of 4,000 nurses doesn\’t look good. Public anger makes closure of A&E and maternity services impossible when beds are full to capacity. Patients waiting over six weeks for diagnostic tests are up by 88%. Hunt turns the blame on GPs, but they are seeing 40 patients a day with their appointments systems gridlocked. With two tough winters to survive before the election, he may not succeed in diverting blame to the NHS and its staff.
Forces unleashed by the Act are already at work. Section 75 requires almost everything to be tendered out to Any Qualified Provider. An overview of how much is turning private is hard to come by, but there are snapshots. NHS Direct is broken up among 46 bidders for local 111 services, paid only 30% of the old cost per call, so already many contracts are going bust. Meanwhile, unqualified call-centre operators pour extra patients into A&E with trivial complaints. The London ambulance service is using 10 times more private ambulances, at a cost of £4m a year. Between a quarter and a half of all community services are now run by VirginCare.
The NHS cannot meet the demand for its services. Thus it\’s an outrage that not NHS people can offer the same services.
I now have a desperate desire to stick my underpants on my head, pencils up my nostrils and shout \”Wibble\” repeatedly.
Yet we know that letting health slide towards private payment will cost everyone more: the US spends 18% of GDP, twice as much, for much less care, while the NHS is one of the world\’s most efficient ways to pay.
The current reforms are not about moving to an insurance based system like the US. Rather, they\’re about moving to a market based provision of services. You know, just like almost all European countries use?