Dr Grumble bumped into an old friend the other day. We will call him Philip. Philip is a bumbling academic type. He is highly intelligent with many scientific papers to his name but somehow he never quite catches up with the reality of what is going on around him. Philip is a strong supporter of the NHS so it was natural for Dr Grumble to mention his concerns about imminent NHS privatisation. Philip looked utterly bewildered. He thought that Dr Grumble's interpretation of the goings on in the NHS was quite wrong and said so unequivocally. Which just goes to show that many people must believe what they are intended to believe.
But what we are told really does not bear scrutiny. Ben Bradshaw claims that he is going to improve access to GPs by moving them away from the homes of the elderly and disabled into polyclinics. The claim is a non sequitur plain and simple. But Philip seems to believe what he is intended to believe.
Of course it could be poor old Dr Grumble that has this wrong. Perhaps he is deluded. He feels so sure of the government's intent that he has scarcely thought it necessary to argue his case. But if others don't see things the same way perhaps he needs to look for evidence. The trouble is that the government's intent has been deliberately obfuscated. Oh dear. Dr Grumble's thoughts are looking more and more like a pathological delusion. Perhaps Dr Grumble is plain wrong. Or mad. There are after all reassuring pieces from the Department of Health FAQs:
So it seems that poor Dr Grumble has lost the plot. Philip, the batty academic, must have it right. But wait. If you really want to know what is planned for your NHS, you must read the relevant Department of Health documents in toto. Now that is heavy going. But here is a taster - a few snippets to whet your appetite:
….the private sector has found the primary care market a difficult one in which to operate and develop….
The Department of Health has entered a national joint venture with Partnerships UK to develop and encourage a new market for investment in primary care……
This limited company - the LIFTco - owns and maintains the building and leases the premises to PCTs, GPs, Local Authority Social Services, dentists, pharmacists, etc.
A private sector partner is identified through a competitive procurement…..
The new LIFT company has a board of directors which reflects the shareholding split within the company.
LIFT represents a sizeable new market and the first tranche of schemes across all 42 sites - now supplemented by eight fourth wave projects (there are 50 NHS LIFT schemes) - represents investment of around £1 billion.
A company is [a] relatively simple and efficient way to structure a Public Private Partnership
...we can sell our shares. This is not a long-term investment - it is a catalyst for change
Of course, these snippets have been highly selected to support the Grumble delusion. Patients' groups have studied the full documentation. And they are content.
'We fully support the introduction of 'super surgeries' which we regard as good for patients.'
'A one-stop centre for total health care will be more convenient for patients, particularly patients and those with long term medical conditions
'We are extremely pleased that these centres are being set up in some of the most deprived areas in England.'
Michael Summers, Chairman, The Patients Association
The patients seem happy enough. And this is all about patients. The end result is what matters not the route to get there. So that's OK. The patients are happy. Dr Grumble doesn't need to be worried. Philip the academic must be right after all. There is nothing to be worried about. Nothing at all. But it is privatisation.