STRAIGHT TALK: NHS ain’t broke, so don’t fix it

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THE NHS is being dismembered this week by a bill that’s getting railroaded through the Commons.

That’s our NHS, yours and mine. Do we care? Of course we do.

Can we do anything to save our health service from a break-up that will cost £2billion, effectively privatise chunks of it, allow some hospitals to go bankrupt and bring back with a vengeance the postcode lottery?

Good question.

Whatever assurances the new “We’re not nasty, we’re nice” Tories have given that they love and value the NHS, the fact that apparently irrevocable changes have already gone ahead belies their words.

And at this late hour we’re left to hope that if MPs this week don’t manage to stop the Government forfeiting responsibility for the UK’s health (unlikely), peers in the Lords will later put up a good fight to change at least that key aspect of the bill.

Ever the optimist, I put on a T-shirt and sent a Save Our NHS red balloon into the sky at a local protest rally on Saturday.

Everyone there – not so many that I couldn’t get round and talk to most – was bewildered and bemused that in spite of huge opposition from doctors and nurses, hospital and community staff and more than 1,000 amendments to the original bill, here it is back again and set to be passed, basically unchanged in general thrust.

That is, that a national health service named by the US Commonwealth Fund as top among similar countries for effectiveness, care and efficiency, patient confidence, equity and safety, and significantly cheaper than the French or German models, will be split, divided and semi-privatised.

At a time of economic turmoil when the Government is tasked with reducing deep national debt it seems crazy that it’s poised to throw away £2bn on dismantling the one national asset that’s working well and actually improving.

Reform it by all means, bring in sensible economies where you can.

Certainly bad errors have been made under the previous Government on procurement of an over-arching computer system, GPs’ pay and private funding initiatives.

But the NHS is bigger than individual governments and closer to all our hearts.

And it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it!