Concern at NHS reform

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FURTHER to M. Cornwell’s letter, ‘Democracy and the NHS’ (County Times, September 8), I would like to alert your readers to the concerns that Horsham Labour Party has about the reforms that the Tory-led coalition is pushing through parliament.

In July Horsham Labour Party sent the following letter to all practice surgeries within the Horsham area in an attempt to open up a dialogue on this most important of issues. We are aware of the significant levels of public funding and the far reaching powers local GP surgeries are set to gain and so wanted to actively take part in influencing these reforms.

Dear Practice Manager,

At a recent meeting of the Horsham Labour Party the members discussed the contents of the leaflet produced by the BMA, ‘Warning! Commercialising the NHS is damaging our health service’. I have been asked to contact all our local GP surgeries to ask your opinions about the possible effects for local health care provision, if the coalition Government presses ahead with its proposals.

We would like the opinion of the practice members, for example is your practice happy to manage up to 90 per cent of the NHS budget and be placed in charge of commissioning services? All our members attend one or other of the local practices and have real concerns about the proposed changes.

Horsham Labour Party members are proud of the NHS and the role our party has played in its formation and wish to play an active role in both defending and developing it for the benefit of all, free at the point of use.

Many of our members have written to the Government expressing their concerns and we are now seeking the opinions of local health care professionals.

Key issues include changes to commissioning and the scrapping of the PCTs and the greater involvement of private companies in delivering services. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.

Yours faithfully

Ray Chapman, secretary, Horsham Labour Party

We have yet to receive answers from all of the surgeries but feel it appropriate to put our views on record, in the hope that our listening Government takes note.

Horsham Labour Party believes that health care should be accessable and available to all, irrespective of where you live, and be free at the point of use. Furthermore we believe that the NHS should be required to meet nationally set standards and that the service should predominantly be delivered by health care professionals working within the public sector.

We do see a conflict of interest when private companies are provided with opportunities to cherry pick the most lucrative areas of health care provision.

We are not alone with our concerns and we would recommend that the Government takes note of those it is expecting to deliver the new fragmented service, ie the doctors, nurses and surgeons, all of whom have expressed significant concerns with the latest set of reforms. Fragmentation of our NHS will surely ease the path to privatisation?

And what news from Horsham MP, Francis Maude, in this most important of weeks in respect of the future of our NHS? He simply tantalises us yet again in his weekly column in the Horsham edition with a passing reference to a new hospital.

Please Mr Maude, don’t be so flippant, tell us if you will campaign to deliver a fully functioning A&E hospital, paid for by the taxpayer, and run by the NHS, solely to be used by NHS patients?

DAVID HIDE

Chair, Horsham Labour Party

Clarence Road, Horsham