War on NHS reform

A Government White Paper on healthcare reform has caused Unison, Britain’s biggest public sector trade union (over 1.3 million members), to launch legal action against the
Government ‘as a matter of urgency’. The day after the paper was presented in July, NHS CEOs were instructed by NHS CEO Sir David Nicholson to implement the proposals ‘immediately’ - without being given time to comment on the reforms. This instruction, said Unison, was unlawful.

The Government also failed to consult the public over plans to change the NHS radically.

Among the changes presented by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley are the abolition of Primary Care Trusts and
Strategic Health Authorities, and giving more power to general practitioners to control where funds are spent.
Andy Burnham, Shadow Health Secretary and Labour leadership candidate, backed Unison: ‘There is no democratic mandate for the break-up of the NHS’, he said, adding that, as the Coalition Government’s agreement explicitly ruled out a top-down NHS reorganisation ‘these dangerous plans represent one of the biggest and quickest u-turns in political history.’

The reforms, he said, could cost billions of pounds at a time when cuts to frontline services are increasing. ‘GPs are
unprepared for it, NHS staff don’t want it and patients never asked for it.’


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