There is no reason why you should know, as there has been absolutely zero media coverage on the event, but yesterday, Wednesday September 7th 2011, the NHS Health and Social Care Reform Bill was passed through the Commons on its first Reading, by 65 votes.
No party had a mandate for it, nor any manifesto mention. The parties that became the Coalition Government promised us "no top-down reorganisations" at the 2010 hustings. But they all lied. All over Whitehall pants are on fire, a bonfire of the pre-election pledges.
We have taken the first step to a US-style healthcare system. A system that is based on a price for everything and where nothing has a value. Including professionalism. It will undoubtably work efficiently for the earning, worried well but for those with co-morbidities that look unattractive to Any Willing/Qualified (Private Company) Provider, things are going to get very tough.
In a market economy, many smaller NHS hospitals will close to concentrate resources in cost-efficient centres. Community based projects (cottage hospitals, rehabilitation centres) will be nonviable, more useful as real estate. Private concerns will be able to cream off the high turnover, lower risk procedures, driving the contracts down with loss leaders, leaving the NHS to deal with the elderly and those with multiple morbidities. Accountants for GPs whose budgets run out before the end of the financial year will find a plethora of creative ways to defer organising investigations and treatments. It's already started in NHS Yorkshire " Before you consider surgery ... remember there are significant risks attached ... surgery can be painful ..." NHS 'cynical' tactics are up and running.
And training, how on earth are we going to train future surgeons when the 'routine' operations are removed to the private sector where only consultants are insured to practice...
This is only the first Reading. I realise it has to get past the Lords but the staggering lack of engagement in this last vote by the media and the general publlic has left me gobsmacked. Honestly. Nothing today on any of the national papers' front pages. No discussion of any of the BBC's flagship news programmes. Liberal Democrats crowing on twitter that they showed the Tories what they're made of (really, REALLY? You abstained in protest, oo how tough were you). Dead silence from the Labour leadership.
They all want it. They all want the NHS albatross removed from around their collective neck, it's their dirty little secret.
And now it's our future. Or is it ...
Read the Bill go on, have a go. If you like what you see, well at least you are informed. If you don't, then:
Adopt a Peer and email them your thoughts. Please engage in this process: there is no doubt that the Old Girl needs reform after 63 years but this, truly, is not the way.