Saturday, 22 January 2011

NHS reforms likened to ‘poll tax’ by top City executive

Even the City is wary of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms, with a top executive likening them to being politically ‘worse than the poll tax’. Unite, the largest union in the country, said that it was delighted that even the City – the bedrock of Tory support - was waking up to the effects of the NHS reforms, which the union has repeatedly said were ‘an open door for profiteering private healthcare companies’.  

In a letter to the Financial Times on Thursday, Tom Brown, senior credit executive with Norddeutsche Landesbank likened the new structures - which will give GPs control of 80 per cent of the NHS budget by 2013 - to certain aspects of rail privatisation. He said: ”That private health corporations are swarming around GP practices, like bees round a honey pot, with offers to manage their future multi-billion healthcare budgets (rather like the way bus companies and banks offered to take over the business of operating and leasing trains in the rail privatisation) also confirms that an opportunity to make risk-free profits out of taxpayers’ money can be sniffed a mile off by those less naive than those planning this reform.”

Mr Brown said he suspected it could be worse politically for David Cameron than the poll tax (which helped bring down Margaret Thatcher as prime minister in 1990). He said: ”The structure resembles in certain respects rail privatisation, and if it promises to be politically the poll tax, then financially and operationally it is Railtrack.” Mr Brown’s intervention dovetails with a new YouGov survey saying that 57 per cent cent of  the British public say they do not trust the government much or ‘at all’ to deliver on the NHS.

Unite national officer for health, Karen Reay, said: ”It is heart warming that even senior executives in the City, a bastion of Tory support, are waking up to the deep flaws in the health secretary’s misguided and grandiose ambitions for the NHS. This, coupled with the You Gov poll, adds to the deafening crescendo of criticism of the plans to basically privatise the much-cherished NHS. The coalition needs a massive rethink on this.“