By Lucette Davies
On 1st of July our NHS will undergo another top down reorganisation that none of us voted for. Just like the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) brought in by the Conservative/ Lib Dem Coalition in 2012 it will have no democratic mandate. And like the HSCA it will constitute another giant leap towards the complete privatisation of the NHS.
It may seem incomprehensible that the British public continue to vote for politicians who want to destroy our beloved healthcare service. But the failure of our main stream media to report accurately on what is happening has played a part in this.
Our NHS today is unrecognisable to the service that existed back in 2010. Under previous governments private corporations had started to gain access to the NHS. But after 12 years of below inflation funding, pay restraint for staff and many more private corporations becoming involved the service is at breaking point. The staff are crippled with exhaustion and stress, patients are dying unnecessarily and the nation’s mental health is rapidly deteriorating.
We have been asking Caroline Ansell repeatedly how this top down reorganisation, that she voted for, will fix any of the major crises in the service. She is yet to reply, so we will use this column to outline what it will mean for the people of this town.
England’s NHS is to be broken up into 42 separate healthcare systems with each system being controlled by a board of directors. It will be that board who will decide who can access services, who provides each service and what services are available. These boards will have members from private businesses as well as the public sector. It seems likely that boards will aim to maximise profits rather than maximise healthcare provision.
In Eastbourne it will be the NHS Sussex Integrated Care Board chaired by a Mr Stephen Lightfoot who will have control over our services. It means there is now little point in me wasting my breath trying to get a straight answer from Caroline Ansell. Or wasting my time trying to prompt our local authority into actively opposing this move. Mr Lightfoot will now be the beneficiary of our efforts to salvage healthcare for our town.
Our campaign has already written to him to ask the following questions.
· Will visitors to the town from other healthcare systems, and everybody living in the town be able to access local services? We felt this was vital as our town relies on tourism.
· What guarantees of service provision will the population be given? We know that there will no longer be a requirement for everyone to have access to treatment when needed in a hospital. But what will happen to NHS dentistry, GPs, mental health services, care services and ophthalmology.
· Will meetings of the Board be held in public and will the Board be subject to the Freedom of Information Act?
· Will NHS staff be offered any guarantees regarding pay and working conditions?
We will by July have a healthcare service that resembles the American system with the only difference being that it is funded by our taxes. But our NHS has been built using taxes we paid. It belongs to the people and it is an utter travesty of justice that it has reached this point.