column for Ilford Recorder 23 Feb 2012

The controversial Health and Social Care Bill faces outright opposition from organisations representing 1.2million NHS doctors, nurses, midwives and other health care providers.

Last week Conservative and Lib Dem ministers tabled 137 amendments in the Lords. Yesterday Labour MPs forced a Commons vote calling for publication of an official Department of Health register of risks the Government is running with patient care by reorganising the NHS which ministers are trying to keep secret.

The Bill will break up the NHS and create an unfair postcode lottery. Scrapping national standards will lead to widespread variation in treatments. People may have to go private to get services available for free elsewhere. It risks rises in waiting times - Redbridge has already seen a 46% increase in the number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks since David Cameron became Prime Minister.

This Bill scraps the cap on hospitals treating private patients and waters down waiting time guarantee. Hospital managers will be free to treat more private patients and make NHS patients wait longer. It turns the NHS into a full-blown commercial market, putting competition before patient care. It allows private companies to cherry-pick quick profits, potentially forcing local hospitals to go bust.

The Bill undermines the bond of trust between doctors and patients creating conflicts of interest where financial incentives could interfere with medical decisions. GPs could even get a bonus for rationing care. It is unforgivable to spend £3.5 billion on a reckless re-organisation - which is costing NHS Redbridge £15 million - when the NHS needs every penny it can get for patient care. The government should drop the bill and save the NHS.

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