As we are all no doubt aware, the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill on 20 March 2012 (by a slim majority of 88) represents an important milestone in the evolution in the future design and delivery of primary care health services. One (of many!) interesting arguments during the long drawn out, marathon-like legislative process was, and continues to be, as the below linked article from The Guardian suggests, about the supposed ‘privatisation of the NHS by stealth.’
At the extreme fringes of the progressive argument, the Health and Social Care Act appears to shift the responsibility for commissioning primary health services to Clinical Commissioning Groups (often described as ghastly entities daring to challenge the sacred principles the NHS was founded on), and invite private sector health providers to help GP practices manage, and thus (so the argument goes) outsource this new found responsibility to organisations that wield by far a greater understanding of the commissioning process.
The counter argument put forward market liberals, adopts a diametrically different outlook for the NHS: one beset demand-led and demographic challenges, that cannot be met by a seemingly monopolistic system, which doesn’t create space for competition between service providers, and one which therefore fails to guarantee quality and cost-effectiveness.
This argument throws confused patients into a mist of confusion and frustration, reminiscent of the frustration felt by US citizens during the economic recession of the early 1990s where a would be Presidential contender by the name of Bill Clinton once said 'it's the economy stupid!' to forever change the face of US political dynamic. One can hardly be surprised that most tax-payers in England (perhaps excluding those who benefit from private medical schemes) are voicing a similar disdain whilst confidently shouting: ‘it’s the patient stupid!.’
This short blog does not explore this argument in depth, for if it did, it would most likely turn into an extensive research paper. Read more about this debate by following this link, and decide where you fit within this discourse, or if you want to join other patients and scream out loud: 'it's the patient stupid'!