Don’t let them destroy the NHS

From: Dr Jack Czauderna. Retired GP/Chair Darnall Wellbeing

I wanted to write in support of Coun Mary Lea’s letter in the Telegraph (January 27).

I was one of the GPs who dealt with the widespread health problems brought on by the government policies of the 1980s.

You will remember the widespread dismantling of the steel and coal industries, the associated unemployment leading to poverty and the increase in inequalities between the richer and poorer parts of the city as well as between the north and south of the country.

You may think things are not quite so bad as they were then, but the inequalities, particularly in income have remained and grown, and we have good evidence now that income inequality has huge effects on the health of our population.

Now come the cuts to local spending and a proposed government change to the way the NHS is organised.

This will give GP consortia much more power over how the NHS budget is spent and introduce the idea of competition into how services are provided.

GPs are already talking about how worried they are that the doctor/patient relationship will become compromised once the idea takes root that doctors may make decisions based on funding rather than on what is best for the patient who has come to see the doctor in good faith.

Once the NHS is driven by competition, which is the proposal to allow any ‘willing provider’ deliver services whether they are from the NHS, or the private sector then some providers, however good they may be, will be driven out of existence. GP practices or local hospitals may go out of business.

I have now retired from my general practice but I continue to work in my old community around health.

The idea that competition can improve health is a fallacy. If I am in good health and my neighbour is not then my health is diminished.

This is why inequalities in income between the poorest and the richest in our society diminishes the health of the poorest AND the richest.

This is true of health and I believe it is true of healthcare.

We must stop this government destroying the NHS.

By all means give GPs more say in how NHS money is spent but do not put them in the situation they will face with their patients with the new GP consortia and do not allow competition rather than collaboration become the dominant ethos of our health services.