By Maximilian Clarke

A new parliamentary report criticising the cost and restructuring of the NHS has prompted Unite, the country’s largest union, to call for the controversial health bill to be scrapped.

The all party parliamentary group on Primary Care and Public Health, in a new report, said that it was ‘concerned’ that the cost of the NHS ‘reforms’ was between £2-3 billion, at a time when the government wanted the health service to save £20 billion by 2015.

Unite’s head of health, Rachael Maskell, said today (Wednesday 18 January): ”We welcome this report as it goes straight to the heart of the matter — that the so-called reforms contained in the Health and Social Care bill are unnecessary and expensive. The bill should be jettisoned immediately.

”It is clear that health secretary Andrew Lansley is intent on spending scarce taxpayers’ money on juggling the NHS bureaucracy to open up the health service to privatisation — money that could be better spent, for example, on hip replacements for the elderly.

”Patient care should be at the centre of what the NHS does — but we believe the ‘reforms’ will add nothing to the patient experience, as the system is going to be sullied by the increased use of private companies.

”The goal of these firms is the creation of large profits at the expense of patients and their treatments. The recent breast implant scandal showed what some private companies do when things go wrong — they run away from their responsibilities and expect the NHS to pick-up the tab.”
The report said: ‘Overall, we concluded that the NHS did not need a wholesale restructuring. We were also concerned at the cost of the reforms, £2-3 billion in light of the government wanting the NHS to save £20 billion by 2015.’

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