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Independents' Day

Pulse Comment Privatisation rethink due

The NHS is counting the cost of another ill-conceived Government initiative this week, after a Pulse investigation revealed millions had been wasted on the switch to private provision for home oxygen.

The story has a familiar ring,

with the Department of Health's enthusiastic embrace of all things private sector already landing the NHS with hefty debts over PFI and independent treatment centres.

GPs will also be asking how much has been spent on Evercare and other such schemes that, like the oxygen switch, were supposed to improve efficiency.

There may well be good reasons for wanting to broaden the range of providers, but ministers too often give the impression of charging ahead out of blind dogma, with no planning and piloting.

Surely it is time to pull back on privatisation and think hard about what it is all trying to achieve.

What a year...

2006 has been a memorable year for general practice, but unfortunately for mostly the wrong reasons.

It will go down as the year of the great pensions grab. The year medical regulation was turned on its head. And the year the NHS hit the financial buffers.

It was also the year of IT. Of Choose and Book calamities and of Care Record controversy.

And 2006 marked a tipping point. It was the year private provision of NHS GP services went from theory to reality.

General practice is changing.

Few would say for the better.

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