David Cameron is about to detail five guarantees for the future of the NHS in England. The prime minister will insist the NHS will remain free at the point of use, care will be improved, budgets will rise and waiting times be “kept low”, but is “free at the point of use” enough? That’s not my question but of the BBC’s Business Editor, Robert Peston, who said “At what point (if ever) would the private sector’s clout within the NHS be so great that private providers would be able to hold to ransom taxpayers who finance them (pay us more, or else), eroding the productivity gains? As we’ve seen with the financial crisis at the care home provider Southern Cross, the threat of an interruption of a vital service is quite a bargaining chip for a health provider”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13614475
It is all very well to give general practitioners control of NHS funding within their areas in the form of GP consortia, but wholly within the bounds of reason to expect to see companies such as Wal-Mart (Asda), Tesco, Virgin and others taking over the consortia, thereby controlling where and how the NHS money is spent. There is no question that this is privatisation by the back door (i.e. not at point of use). This is what puts the ‘con’ in Conservative, but let me ask you one question: Do you want to see the NHS run along the same lines as the current myriad of train companies with their pitfalls and failures?