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Politics no image

Published on September 6th, 2012 | by Zaynab Lulat
Image ©   [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="566"] © By Calleamanecer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons[/caption]  The NHS is famed for both good and bad, and it recently took a starring role in the Olympic opening ceremony, produced by Danny Boyle. Love it or hate it the NHS existed since 1948 to meet three core principles; to treat the needs of all, to be free at the point of delivery and to be based on clinical need. There have been some changes; however until recently these core principles have remained mostly unchanged. Critics fear that the NHS reforms under the Health and Social Care Bill will lead to less effective healthcare in Britain. The government suggests that falling standards, incurring costs and the lack of technological advancement have been negatively affecting the NHS and the government, thus exporting and selling services is the best option for enhancing its capabilities. The NHS confederation have supported the proposals by the government, suggesting that international healthcare industry has a potential of £2.54 trillion to be tapped into, this income could be used to support the NHS at home. David Cameron’s government argues that we cannot stick to the ‘status quo’, we must try new ways of improving the service. Models of success are already in place in the form of exported eye care in India. According to the government there is a £20 billion funding gap, which can be resolved with the reforms. Critics are calling the coalition hypocritical, for singing the praises of the NHS to those they hope to export services too, yet undermining its importance and reach within the U.K. This raises a question of legitimacy for the government’s arguments for overhauling the system in place. The main fear voiced is that this is the first step towards privatizing a public service. It seems as though talk of the reforms remains shrouded in mystery and confusion, with a defining split in opinion. The NHS was never set up to be a commercial enterprise. There has also been opposition from healthcare professionals who suggest that the NHS reforms will not definitely result in improved services, and is therefore a huge risk to take on a service valued by many. Doctors have argued that the changes in policy will lead to profit based decisions instead of health related, in the aim of cost cutting and profit making. Patients fear that there will be a higher level of postcode lottery with regards to access to resources, this takes away from the fundamental aspect of healthcare being universal. Opponents have also called on the many problems that the proposals initially overlooked, there have been more than one thousand amendments however many health professionals have not been won over by the plans. Other criticisms include the lack of information provided to the public about the reforms, and how healthcare professional and suppliers will be held accountable once they are controlled by multiple suppliers. A large concern for healthcare workers job security, the government argue that it will create more jobs, but according to other sources it means the loss of between 21,000- 24,000 jobs. The U.K has a large deficit, and that steps need to be taken to make public services such as the NHS more effective on tighter budgets. However, the NHS is a valued and respected institution; the question is where will the government draw the line when dealing with the deficit, and how far it will go in turning the NHS into a commodity? The government is pushing through the most radical change that the NHS has ever seen. In 1948 the Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan stated “"take pride in the fact that, despite our financial and economic anxieties, we are still able to do the most civilised thing in the world: put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration”. In 2012, the picture looks very different, and while the country works on the back of economic anxieties the government looks to commercialize the National Health Service.  

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The NHS Tug-of-war

 

© By Calleamanecer (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

 

The NHS is famed for both good and bad, and it recently took a starring role in the Olympic opening ceremony, produced by Danny Boyle. Love it or hate it the NHS existed since 1948 to meet three core principles; to treat the needs of all, to be free at the point of delivery and to be based on clinical need. There have been some changes; however until recently these core principles have remained mostly unchanged. Critics fear that the NHS reforms under the Health and Social Care Bill will lead to less effective healthcare in Britain.

The government suggests that falling standards, incurring costs and the lack of technological advancement have been negatively affecting the NHS and the government, thus exporting and selling services is the best option for enhancing its capabilities. The NHS confederation have supported the proposals by the government, suggesting that international healthcare industry has a potential of £2.54 trillion to be tapped into, this income could be used to support the NHS at home. David Cameron’s government argues that we cannot stick to the ‘status quo’, we must try new ways of improving the service. Models of success are already in place in the form of exported eye care in India. According to the government there is a £20 billion funding gap, which can be resolved with the reforms.

Critics are calling the coalition hypocritical, for singing the praises of the NHS to those they hope to export services too, yet undermining its importance and reach within the U.K. This raises a question of legitimacy for the government’s arguments for overhauling the system in place. The main fear voiced is that this is the first step towards privatizing a public service. It seems as though talk of the reforms remains shrouded in mystery and confusion, with a defining split in opinion. The NHS was never set up to be a commercial enterprise. There has also been opposition from healthcare professionals who suggest that the NHS reforms will not definitely result in improved services, and is therefore a huge risk to take on a service valued by many.

Doctors have argued that the changes in policy will lead to profit based decisions instead of health related, in the aim of cost cutting and profit making. Patients fear that there will be a higher level of postcode lottery with regards to access to resources, this takes away from the fundamental aspect of healthcare being universal. Opponents have also called on the many problems that the proposals initially overlooked, there have been more than one thousand amendments however many health professionals have not been won over by the plans. Other criticisms include the lack of information provided to the public about the reforms, and how healthcare professional and suppliers will be held accountable once they are controlled by multiple suppliers. A large concern for healthcare workers job security, the government argue that it will create more jobs, but according to other sources it means the loss of between 21,000- 24,000 jobs.
The U.K has a large deficit, and that steps need to be taken to make public services such as the NHS more effective on tighter budgets. However, the NHS is a valued and respected institution; the question is where will the government draw the line when dealing with the deficit, and how far it will go in turning the NHS into a commodity? The government is pushing through the most radical change that the NHS has ever seen. In 1948 the Health Secretary Aneurin Bevan stated “”take pride in the fact that, despite our financial and economic anxieties, we are still able to do the most civilised thing in the world: put the welfare of the sick in front of every other consideration”. In 2012, the picture looks very different, and while the country works on the back of economic anxieties the government looks to commercialize the National Health Service.

 

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About the Author

Zaynab Lulat

Zaynab graduated in 2010 with a BA Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Her degree focused on international politics with a focus on the Middle East and South Asia. Her final year projects were based on identity politics and terrorism. Since graduating she has taken an interest in UK Politics, her writing varies from national to international politics and culture. She is a keen traveller, having backpacked solo around Asia and Central America. She also volunteered with an NGO working on disaster relief in India. She believes that social media gives young people a better platform for expressing opinions and understanding new ideas, and helps more people become involved with the world around them.



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