Simpler days – a fresh faced Staff nurse sets out to change the world (back row 2nd from Left)
In my life, 1979 saw two important events, firstly it was the year in which I started my nurse training at Hollymoor Hospital in Northfield, Birmingham and secondly, Maggie Thatcher became Prime Minister.
In so many ways, life seemed simpler back then – for example, you knew where you stood with politics and politicians.
My early political understandings were informed by Clash lyrics, the NME and the Anti-Nazi League. Down the road from me, Red Robbo was stirring up the Car workers at Longbridge & UB40 were composing their first album ‘Signing off’. I remember a feeling of pride about working for the NHS.
In the opposing corner was.. Maggie
At least with Maggie you knew where you stood. The Tories were the party of privatisation, anti-Union and we all knew that given the chance they would have liked to run down the NHS. Of course, even Maggie didn’t manage to do away with the NHS, despite attempts to boost the influence of private medicine etc.
Nowadays of course, things are not nearly as clear.
(Tag cloud made from White Paper ‘ Equity & Excellence: Liberating the NHS’)
Apparently the NHS is safe in Conservative hands and they were keen to point this out before the election.
“We are the party of the NHS today because we not only back the values of the NHS, we back its funding and have a vision for its future.” (Conservative Party Manifesto 2010)
David Cameron has previously stated that the Tories were wrong to weaken the NHS and has been keen to distance his party from it’s percieved anti NHS bias. If you really want more reassurance see Hector from Abingdon who had never voted for the Conservatives before but was doing so now to protect the NHS.
In common with everyone involved in the NHS we have been talking about the implications of the proposed NHS reforms. Amongst the proposals are plans to hand control of NHS budgets to GP consortia to spend on behalf of patients whilst cutting Primary Care Trusts and strategic health authorities. According to the DOH, the reforms will ‘Liberate’ the NHS leaving it ‘streamlined with fewer layers of bureacracy’.
Why am I so worried?
This is what I think is really going to happen:
- Look out for an increase in Private involvement in the NHS (see Tag cloud reference to ‘consortia’ & ‘choice’)
- Private companies have to prioritise the interests of their share holders therefore..
- NHS Job losses
- Skilled workers increasingly replaced/ supplemented by unskilled workers (this blog details this really well)
- Foundation Trusts opting out of the NHS, local pay & conditions, reduced entitlement to leave, reduced redundancy payments, pensions etc
- An increase in (profitable) patients recieving private medical care
- A decrease in care for less profitable patients, i.e. long term conditions, people with mental health problems etc (see White paper “begin to introduce choice of treatment and provider in some mental health services from April 2011, and extend this wherever practicable”)
I could go on but like to keep posts short – feel free to add your own to the list though.
The RCN campaign ‘Frontline first’ is an attempt to defend patient care – one of the speakers in the launch says that ‘when nurses speak, people listen’
What should we be saying & is anyone really going to listen? I am not so sure they will – hope I am wrong.