I was disappointed to hear Dame Shirley Williams raise the spectre of US-style healthcare resulting from the Government’s proposed NHS reforms.
The problem in the US is not caused by a plethora of private providers, but by private funding of healthcare, which is not what’s being proposed.
The opponents of the white paper have missed two very important points. Firstly, primary care in the UK is already privatised. GPs run profit-making organisations on a self-employed basis. Contracts are with practices or individuals, and very little primary care is delivered ‘by the NHS’. There are plenty of safeguards to ensure that we do not claim fees or expenses without following the rules. Limited liability companies are specifically disqualified from holding PMS contracts. Similar regulations could be introduced when any willing provider contracts are signed by GP consortia.
Secondly, to hear the nay-sayers talk, you would think that everything in the secondary care garden was rosy. Willing providers are required only because there are deficiencies in the care that NHS trusts provide.
Only today I have had two examples of unacceptable care, each from a different secondary care trust. One patient had a CT scan eight weeks ago for investigation of headache, and has heard nothing. Another had a lymph node biopsy four weeks ago and had heard nothing. A willing provider that did this would have their contract terminated, and fast.
From Dr Jeremy Platt, Bracknell
Letter of the week