10/11/11

Britain moves to privatize health care services

Public health care is under serious attack in Britain, with the Conservative-Liberal Democrat government's "The Health and Social Care Bill".

Health unions vociferously oppose the Bill. UNISON, a major public sector union in Britain, says the Bill will:
  • Lead to a far larger role for private (for-profit) providers,
  • Allow 'private' patients to jump the queue
  • Make the Health Secretary (like our Minister of Health) and the National Health Service (NHS) less accountable to the public
  • Create significant threats to staff jobs (20,000 redundancies are expected) and staff wages, and
  • Create a health care system based on wholesale competition (in contrast with the original NHS which was based much more on cooperation, collaboration, and integration).
If implemented, such changes in Britain will create more pressure for more private, for-profit care in Canada. Already, British health care businesses are playing a leading role in privatizing Canadian health care services.

The Prime Minister claims that market competition will strengthen health care quality, but has relied on research that critics say "should not be quoted as scientific evidence to support choice, competition or the new Health and Social Care Bill."

The Bill has already passed the House of Commons and is now coming up for second reading in the House of Lords.

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