Andrew Turner MP: The NHS Reforms

Andrew Turner MP writes:

The founding principles of the National Health Service are healthcare free at the point of delivery, unrelated to the ability to pay.

I owe the NHS a lot.  In 2006, following a stroke, I received first class care in St Mary’s and outpatient support afterwards.  My partner, Carole, owes her life to the NHS and I have a sister undergoing cancer treatment.  Like many Islanders, I depend on NHS staff and the care they give and I am committed to those founding principles.

But we must be honest, the NHS isn’t perfect.  It must respond to changing needs.  People live longer and want choice about their treatment.  More complex cancer drugs are available:  if the NHS performed at world class levels 5,000 lives would be saved each year.  In our region unused prescriptions cost £20 million - enough to fund 785 nurses.

For the next four years one in every seven pounds of the tax you pay will be spent in the NHS.  More of that money must get to the front line – and those working there should decide how it is spent.

The Health Bill will abolish Primary Care Trusts, Strategic Health Authorities and most health quangos.  It will look at the whole picture, bringing together health, hospitals, housing and social services, not by diktat from above, but by giving power to local boards.  On the Island, our GPs and others are getting ready for truly local decision making.

The private sector has worked with the NHS since 1948. But favouring them over existing state health will be banned for the first time ever, and that will be managed locally.  Concerns about competition are not new, but under the existing, centralised system £250 million was paid to private companies for operations that never happened and £6.4 billion was wasted on an NHS supercomputer.  The Health Secretary is a good man and the SHA in Newbury has highly trained managers – but I would rather our GPs and medical professionals decided what treatments are available on the Island!

From the start, the NHS has always changed.  It is always difficult, but put simply, the NHS needs more freedoms for a sustainable future.  We cannot stand still - we would simply fall behind.  I want the NHS to care for future generations, as it has for mine – that is why I support these changes.