The House of Lords has backed regulations promoting privatisation of NHS services in England. An Opposition attempt to overturn the NHS (Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition) (No. 2 Regulations 2013) was defeated by a ruling Coalition majority of over a hundred votes. Holders of NHS budgets are likely to be forced to put more services out to tender, giving lucrative opportunities to private firms even if this harms patient care.
A change of heart, procedure, policy and resources is needed to make health for all a priority in Britain, says Savitri Hensman, looking at the lessons that need to be learned from Mid Staffs and beyond.
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has attacked mediocre hospitals that “cruise along” rather than striving for “world class levels of excellence”. He referred to Mid Staffordshire, where failings led to unnecessary suffering and death.
A report on why Mid Staffordshire hospital failings went unchecked for so long makes important points. Robert Francis QC, who led the inquiry, avoided the temptation to blame all that went wrong on a few people who could then be punished, or call for yet another round of reorganisation. Instead he revealed disturbing flaws in the culture of the NHS and other agencies linked with health and social care.
UK government Cabinet papers from 1982, now released under the 30-year disclosure rule, confirm that the dismantling of the welfare state, the privatisation of the NHS and the savage cutting of public services has been a long-held ambition of the Conservative party.