...maggots have not suddenly sprung from Nottingham waiting rooms; oxygen has not magically vanished from the surgeries of Greater Manchester. We are simply being shown problems that have existed for years. But previous health secretaries – Labour and Tory – have not been very interested in exposing them. It was Jeremy Hunt who, in March, decided to have GP clinics inspected and the results published. He asked inspectors to go first to the clinics seen as potentially problematic, which (one hopes) explains why the results are so shocking. The Health Secretary has lifted up stones in the murkiest parts of the NHS garden and shown us what goes on underneath.
It’s a welcome change of strategy from that adopted by his Tory predecessor, Andrew Lansley, who saw himself as a cheerleader for the NHS. The Tory policy was radicalism on education, reassurance on health.Now, it's expose the Marxist incentives that exist in the National Health Service;
Somewhere along the way, Britain has incubated a very peculiar sense of health priorities. It is seldom asked, for example, why our NHS model has been copied by precisely no one in the rest of the world.
....Ironically, it’s workers from ex-Soviet countries who are least likely to put up with all this in Britain. There has been a trend in recent years of Poles being shocked that the GP clinic expects them to take half a day off work for an appointment. So a new breed of private operators is emerging, charging about £70 per consultation and opening until the wee small hours. One of the companies, My Medyk, now has 30,000 patients on its books in just two London clinics – 6,000 of them understood to be British. Similar services are popping up in Manchester and Newcastle – and here lies a solution to the Government’s problem.Which is, competition. Let the customers (the sick) choose who gets paid;
...without the ability to switch doctors, patients will be stuck. The obvious remedy is to encourage more GP clinics to start up and compete for NHS patients, offering more convenient hours and better service. That is to say: incubate a market for health service patients, just as there is a market for private patients.
Mr Hunt has started a long journey. To liberalise the NHS and transfer power towards patients and away from bureaucracy is a hard task, and one that defeated his predecessor.After all, it's merely a matter of life and death.