Health and Social Care Bill

Memorandum submitted by Mrs Hannah Basson (HSR 36)

The emphasis from 'competition' to 'choice' means there is to be no change in the future vision of the NHS. Patients have choice now and still want what is local. No mention of EU Competition Law has been made by the Future Forum so, presumably, patients may still end up having to travel a long way for care when their local DGH has been closed due to being undercut. Remember that if a hospital runs a unique service, it still needs its other services to remain viable in order to survive as a whole. (Please note EU competition law has been cited as the reason Bombardier just lost the rail contract to Siemens.)The Government only shows one study to promote the 'competiton/choice' argument. Death by Market Power studied patient activity and outcomes where fixed-pricing was used. This gives a very different picture to a free market where cost can override quality.
The bill recommendations state that 'cherry-picking' will not be possible, but it already happens. There is no way it can be stopped where profit is pursued.
Southern Cross should serve as a stark warning of what happens when profitteering enters health provision. Circle, also, does not own its own properties. They are leased from Health Properties, who have the same chief executive as Circle. An example of competition and profit in health care is being played out in Bath and North East Somerset at present. Circle want more work (to cover the cost of their michelin-starred chef and 5* board no doubt) so are creating legal issues with the BANES healthcare buyers.  The problem coming to light here is that free-market enterprise has to run at surplus, but this not how free healthcare can operate and it will cost more for the tax-payer. Not that this would concern Circle as they run much of their profit through tax-havens.
Another issue to the tax-payer and to the ideal of free healthcare at the point of access is the bed cap on private patients in hospitals. This must be reinstated before NHS-proper hospitals see a further divide between rich patients and those who are totally reliant on the NHS.

July 2011

Prepared 19th July 2011