STRAIGHT TALK: I don’t want choice when it comes to healthcare

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I’m not averse to a bit of shopping around. Rooting out a good bargain was drilled into me during hours spent watching my dad scouring through the sales as a child.

However, it’s one thing rooting out a bargain bin CD or cut price T-shirt but I’m not sure I share the same zeal when it comes to ‘shopping around’ for an operation.

According to the Government though, its much-discussed changes to the NHS will deliver more ‘patient choice’ and make the health service better as a result.

It recently underwent a ‘pause’ to soak up a torrent of criticism and concern but Prime Minister David Cameron said: “It was clear earlier this year that some of the people who work in our NHS were concerned about our plans. We were hearing that our direction of travel was right – more choice and control for patients, more freedom and power for professionals, less mind-numbing bureaucracy – but yes, some of the details were wrong.”

I can’t say that I do agree with that ‘direction’.

Does anybody really dial 999 and want to be given a list of two or three people who can treat them? Or want to flick through a brochure to look at who offers the required operation?

Unlike the bargain bin CD, I really don’t think I know enough to shop around when it comes to surgery. I want to be able to trust a professional to make that choice for me and don’t want my GP to be forced to think about the cost of my care.

I am a big fan of our NHS and had to laugh when some loony Americans labelled Barack Obama a “socialist” for trying to change the healthcare system across the pond.

Our system is one of our greatest political achievements and served me particularly well when I was poorly as a child but I am able to cast aside my rose-tinted spectacles and see that things can be improved.

But still, as a defining principle, I want the Government to strive to make every hospital deliver the same, top drawer service – not create divisions and elitism and set them off against each other.

When you take a look at the Pilgrim Hospital over at Boston I can’t help feeling they already suffer from sometimes being seen as a poor relation to Lincoln.

I really don’t see how the reforms on the table will do anything to help the Pilgrim.

If anything, I fear they will make it much worse.