The NHS (Reinstatement) bill received its second reading in parliament last week. Its aim is to reverse the creeping privatisation of our health service.
The 2012 Health and Social Care Act opened up the NHS to competition. Since then, there has been a gradual privatisation of health services, some working well, others less so, covering a range of services from general outpatient work, to physiotherapy, ophthalmology, diagnostic and even children’s services.
In the last few years, in order to reduce waiting times, many of my patients who have been referred to gynaecology have been seen at Spire private hospital in Bristol. A few patients have also chosen to go a bit further away to a private hospital in Bath run by Circle for a wide range of specialities – although these are usually our more mobile patients as most prefer to travel locally to their hospital appointments. The general feedback has largely been similar to the local NHS hospital: overall patients have been happy with their experience.
However, there are other services such as hip and knee operations and general surgery offered on the NHS by private providers such as local treatment centres that have caused some worry among GPs and patients. There are fears that they “cream off” the easy work by seeing the well patients, leaving the more risky cases (needing longer inpatient bed days and with higher complication rates) for the local NHS hospitals. This has certainly been my experience of our local treatment centre run by Care UK.
Since it opened in 2009, communication has not always been effective and there is a general sense among GPs of fast patient turnover. The aftercare has not always been there – we have been asked as GPs to refer patients for physiotherapy after surgery when this would normally have been done automatically and in a timely manner if the patient had attended the local NHS trust. Most GPs have never had easy access to physiotherapy services and this has introduced delays and led to slower rehabilitation in patients.
Full story in The Guardian 15 March 2016