NHS: multinationals cash in on health

In the last issue of FRFI we showed how the privatisation of the NHS is occurring on a number of different fronts (FRFI 202: Privatising the NHS – Labour steps up the pace). Since then:

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Say no to a two-tier health system

EDITORIAL

60 years ago the then Labour government set up the NHS as a universal health system free at the point of use. Now Labour is dismantling it and replacing it with a two-tier system that will provide a minimal service for the poor, and an adequate one only for those who can afford to pay extra.

Fresh from awarding United Health the management of three GP practices in April, Camden PCT is now in discussions with the likes of Virgin Healthcare to set up and run a Darzi polyclinic on the University College Hospital site. This will replace four existing GP practices.

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NHS: No to two-tier health service

In 1948 the National Health Service brought to an end a system where those who could pay necessarily got better treatment. Except in so far as prescription charges applied, care was to be provided on the basis of clinical need, not the ability to pay. However, Health Secretary Alan Johnson, anticipating the results of an independent review scheduled for October, has indicated that it is very likely that the rules about top-up will be overturned and the ban on people topping up their care by paying privately for medicine while being treated on the NHS will be lifted. Yet another step is being taken towards turning the NHS into a two-tier system.

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Health matters: Inequality in the NHS

Primary care
• In 1971, Dr Tudor Hart wrote in The Lancet that ‘…the availability of good medical care tends to vary inversely with the need of the population served’. This still applies: for instance, there are still twice as many primary care professionals per head of population in Cambridgeshire as there are in Manchester. Residents of Cambridgeshire will on average live six years longer. The Office for National Statistics released life expectancy figures recently showing that a child born in the South East and South West of England in 2005 had a life expectancy of 78.9 years for males and 82.9 years for females. This compares with Scotland, where it is the shortest, 74.8 years for males and 79.7 years for females.

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Attacking the NHS

nhs for sale 

There is no reason why a wealthy nation such as Britain cannot afford a good system of healthcare, with services freely available to young and old alike. But in six months’ time the NHS will face a funding crisis of unprecedented proportions, one which will intensify in the following year.

This is the inevitable consequence of the Tory spending plans which Labour will support if it wins the election. The facts are clear: spending on the NHS has risen on average 3.5% each year in real terms over the last 17 years. Because NHS inflation is higher than the general rate, savage cuts in services and rationing are still required.

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