Monday, March 23, 2009

Letter to the Telegraph

Sent to the Telegraph this morning:

Sir, Karol Sikora's suggestion for a US style health care service to prevent a recurrence of the disaster at Stafford is misguided at best. The US system has allowed 40 million people to have no access to health care while costing the country proportionally 50% more than the UK system. US market inefficiency and their profit driven culture will not benefit the NHS or its patients and certainly would not prevent another Stafford.

Stuart Jeffery, Health Spokeperson for the Green Party

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Stafford solution is not a two tier NHS

Karol Sikora's piece in the Torygraph calling for a two tier NHS and wider market reforms to prevent a repeat of Stafford are truly repulsive. While his article rightly blames a combination of policy changes and top down targets for the dire state of the hospital, his solutions would lead to a far greater unnecessary deaths.

He is calling for Primary Care Trusts to compete alonside health insurance companies as commissioners of health care, claiming that this will lead to greater efficiency driven by competition of the market. Ignoring the fact that market economics has been shown to fail both people and planet and simply provide for the rich and privalidged, Sikora's suggestion that we adopt the US model of health care will simply leave us with a health care system resembling the US.

The US system has workers living in fear of losing both their jobs and their health care, it has 40 million people with no access to health care at all as they fall between state provision as they earn too much and private provision as they can't afford it. The US system also costs 50% more than the UK system (as a proportion of GDP) - how can this be considered more efficient?

Sikora also claims that depoliticising the NHS will make it more accountable, but to whom would it be accountable? Not patients, not ordinary people, not voters... Ah yes: shareholders! And we know what shareholders are interested in - profits.

Sikora's vision is one of a two tier health care system where the rich get treated in plush surroundings and ordinary people have to make do with a poor service. If you are rich and think this is a good idea then you might like to consider what will happen when your share portfolio crashes and you lose you job as a banker...

Bizarrely Sikora goes on to imply that junior doctors should not be concerned with racial equality, communication, hygiene or avoiding ageism. Does he really think that patients are just hunks of meat to be practiced on?

As the US increasingly questions the wisdom of its own dire health care service, the UK should remain true to the great principles that underpin our NHS. The NHS should provide an equitable service for all - Sikora's vision will not lead there.