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Monday, November 19, 2012

Labour's creeping privatisation of the NHS

Labour figures have long railed against the way that the National Health Service in England is succumbing to the private sector. It turns out that they are right.

According to today's Guardian private firms now treat almost one in five NHS patients with certain conditions..

In fact the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) say in a report.that private firms have made such inroads that independent sector treatment centres, facilities set up to treat NHS patients, now carry out 17% of hip replacements (11,500 operations), 17% of hernia repairs (9,000) and 6% of gall bladder removals (3,000) annually in England. They add that the share of NHS patients being treated by these centres grew rapidly between 2006-07 and 2010-11 due to the promotion of patient choice:

By 2010-11 private providers also handled 8% of patients' first attendances in relation to orthopaedics or trauma, such as a broken limb; 4.8% of such attendances for gastroenterological problems; and 2.3% of attendances for sight problems.

In 2006, GPs typically referred patients to an average of 12 different healthcare providers a year, mainly in the NHS. By 2010 that had risen to 18, mainly because they were encouraged to offer patients a wider list of places to be treated.

And why has this happened? Because the last Labour government embraced competition and patient choice. I am not saying that they were wrong to do this, after all outcomes in England are significantly better than in Wales, but really, if you are going to throw stones please don't stand in glass houses.
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