The NHS is under Threat


Charles West speaking at the Red Cross Hall Ludlow.


‘The NHS in Shropshire is under serious threat’. That was the
theme of a lecture given at the Red Cross centre in Ludlow last night by
respected local NHS campaigner Dr Charles West.

 Speaking at the meeting Dr West
“Successive Governments in a misguided
attempt to pursue efficiency have dabbled with privatising parts of
the NHS. Each time it has cost us dear in terms of money, quality of care, or

 “First we had cleaning contracts put out to tender, and we have
seen the problems that have arisen there with dirty hospitals and increased
hospital acquired infection. Next was the privatisation of Capital. In order
to minimise government borrowing figures the NHS has been forced to
use PFI as a way of building new hospitals. This has poured money into the
hands of private firms and committed the NHS to paying every year for hospitals
and certain ancillary services too, which may be of the wrong type
and in the wrong place.                          

Threat to local GP Service

And now
the biggest threat to destabilisation and fragmentation of the NHS is on the
way. The government is breaking up General Practice and selling parts of it off
to private providers. Lord Darzi, a surgeon who looked at General Practice
in London has decided that the whole country needs
'polyclinics'. Supermarkets, pharmacies and private companies, large and small
from the US and the UK all want a piece of the action. The company that ran
the unsuccessful investigation unit in Ludlow has  been taken over by a company that
is branching out into GP services. It increased its earnings from the
NHS last year from £18 million to £60 million. The contracts offered to these
companies are not the standard NHS contract, they will be free to
pursue profitable sidelines and will have no compulsion to provide
the full range of services that we have come to expect from the Primary Health
Care team. 

“If we value the NHS as an integrated co-ordinated whole
that provides care for everyone in the country wherever they live and whatever
their age, we need to wake up rapidly to this threat”

 With over twenty-five years in General Practice and fifteen
years involved in Health Service Management Dr West is well placed to
review the latest trends in healthcare delivery. He traced a theme that has
developed over more than twenty years and now threatens the very core of the
NHS as we know it.

The meeting
was organised by Ludlow Liberal Democrats.


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