9 June 2010
All three of the bigger parties have taken the wrong approach to healthcare, says Councillor Jason Kitcat, the Green Party's health spokesperson on Brighton and Hove City Council
Both Labour and Conservatives back the use of privatisation and market forces in the NHS - Lib Dems also want to open it up to "other providers".
What these parties fail to recognise is that state-provided healthcare is not a market like that for baked beans or laptops. People do not choose when to get ill or how they will cope with their condition. As a fundamental service for all citizens, the NHS needs to cater for everyone no matter their ability to pay nor how straightforward or complex their condition.
Private healthcare providers like simple, profitable cases. Where we've seen them in action they've "cherry-picked" the easy-to-treat patients and, because of how the internal market has been structured, this costs millions for local NHS trusts who pick up the difficult cases. Whilst private providers have focused on profit they've also created worse pay and conditions for their staff resulting in low morale and reduced continuity of care. And let us not forget that it is the state that bears the cost of training up our doctors and nurses, not the private companies.
Unions and medical associations have documented the many problems with NHS privatisation in dozens of reports in recent years.
Of course we need an efficient, cost-effective NHS, but privatisation is not the way to achieve it - it doesn't make sense clinically or financially.