Saturday, 10 March 2012

Health and Social Care Bill

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by Andy Jones

The controversial Health and Social Care Bill has become a seeming quagmire for the Government, with a well publicised opposition campaign which has thrown up barrier after barrier. The central focus on promoting competition within the NHS is one which Labour openly opposes. Most recently in the on going saga, Nick Clegg has promised serious changes to the Bill, however a serious question is what is it about promoting competition that has made the Bill so unpopular? Competition has been the central concern raised by those opposed to the Bill, leading many, such as the Royal College of GP's, to call on the Government to reject the Bill. Andrew Lansley recently defended competition by suggesting that competition based on quality would be the best way to improve the NHS. This view is not however shared by all, with the Junior Doctors committee criticising the aim of the Bill to intensify competition. But really, is it seriously about competition or is it that the beloved NHS is too precious to tamper with. The introduction of competition is not something new, indeed the last Labour administration used competition to great effect to promote choice and competition. So why then is there such a strong degree of opposition? The NHS has become a defining symbol of Britain, an aspect which many have tried and failed to emulate in their own countries most notably in America, with Obama care. This love has however, made us as a society reluctant in some ways to introduce change even though some aspects may be of genuine benefit. Whatever the reason for opposition to the Bill it is clear that it will continue to be a heart ache for the Government for some time to come.

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