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Letter to Andrew Lansley

In NHS, Politics on April 9, 2011 at 3:43 pm

Below is a letter to Andrew Lansley written by NHS Direct Action.  I became aware of it through the Coalition of Resistance Against Cuts website.

It is more up to date than the letter I wrote to my MP, more concise, and more exacting.  Instead of elaborating only what we do not want, it also makes demands for what we do want.

I strongly suggest you publicise it any way you know how.  Like it, link to it, facebook it, send it your MP, copy and paste it into your blog…

If you have any other ideas, let me know.


Dear Andrew Lansley,

The NHS is the heart of Britain’s welfare state. It treats millions of people every year, and prevents millions more from living in fear of ill health. Your Health and Social Care Bill is set to butcher an institution owned by the people, for the people. Without a mandate you are proposing to spend £3 billion to carry out your reforms to destroy our NHS. Below, we outline some reasons for our action today.

The “Efficiency Savings” Myth – Your policy of ‘efficiency gains’ is both underhand and flawed. In reality ‘efficiency gains’ means cuts of £20 billion over the next three years, job losses starting at 50,000 and the almost complete removal of services such as translation. Bart’s Hospital is set to lose 630 jobs and 100 beds. £15 million cuts are being made at the Homerton hospital. King Georges A&E that serves 500,000 people is fighting closure. Leyton Health Clinic that has a children’s clinic and serves the community is fighting closure. District nurses and midwives have been sacked. In Camden two mental health hospitals have closed. This is just a fraction of what is happening in London. We know the savage destruction of our NHS is not specific to London but is UK wide. What is taking place is causing distress to patients and health workers.

Furthermore, contrary to popular belief, the private sector that you propose to introduce has a more cumbersome and expensive bureaucracy than our current centralised system (as the private system in the US has shown).

The Bill:
1. Fragmentation – Allowing private providers to bid for services will undoubtedly lead to cherry-picking. The private sector will bid for the most lucrative services – for example dermatology and orthopedics – and leave hospitals to go bankrupt as they attempt to provide the expensive yet essential services such as end of life care and A&E. Continuity of care will also suffer as services are physically and administratively separated into different providers.

2. GPs – GPs will be forced to act as holders of the £80 billion NHS budget in consortia. They are clinicians not administrators and do not have the time or the training to carry out this role. In order to manage this they will have to bring in managers and private accounting companies. The patient-doctor relationship will become secondary as GPs are forced to put profit first. Lord Owen has criticised the bill stating, ‘the patient-nurse relationship is personal, intimate and largely unquantifiable. Health is not a market commodity’.

3. Training – Amongst a myriad of services ignored by the bill and put at risk by the abolition of PCTs. Who will be responsible for training in an NHS broken up into privately run fragmented units? At Kings a government health official suggested to student nurses that communities would provide specialist training. When communities are facing massive cuts and health services are closing where will their specialist training come from?

4. The Loss of Altruism – Richard Titmuss expressed the mutually influencing relationship between institutions and society in the context of Britain’s blood donation system. The system, heralded worldwide for its quality and efficiency, is also under threat of privatisation. While in many countries blood is harvested by financial incentive – which comes with many risks to the donor and the recipient – the UK has a sustainable healthy system that avoids money all together. It is vital relationships like these that are under threat from the H&SC Bill.

5. Impartiality of the Reforms – Recent financial transactions between yourself, John Nash, (the former chairman and now consultant to Care UK) and Caroline Nash illustrates who has influence over decisions made about the NHS. You received a personal donation of £21,000 from Caroline Nash for your election campaign. Whilst Mr. and Mrs. Nash gave the Tory party over £200,000. Care UK was recently awarded a £53,000,000 NHS contract. This suggests that the H&SC Bill may not have been written purely with public interest at heart.

Andrew Lansley, we believe that you are not fully independent in your position as Secretary of State for Health. You have not listened to doctors, nurses, politicians or the people. The NHS is being dismantled without a mandate and so we ask you not only to withdraw your bill, but also to resign as you have proven that you are not fit to be our Secretary of State for Health.

By NHS direct action.


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