THE National Health Service reforms will mean the NHS will be allowed to earn up to 49 per cent of its income from private sources, writes Mark Hattersley.
The informal passing of the coalition government’s Health and Social Care Bill
has divided opinion between local health professionals and the public.
Some people in Salford have branded the move a ‘privatisation of the NHS', while others claim it is needed.
As the government tries to cut £20bn from the NHS budget, the controversial Bill, which has seen over a year’s worth of amendments, proposes an increase in the amount of private-sector involvement in the health service.
Confronted by furious opposition from the Labour party, who desperately tried to block the reforms during the dying hours of the proposal, the Bill passed in the House of Commons by 328 votes to 246.
Now the legislation is awaiting Royal Assent before it becomes law.
It will mean GPs will control the budget and commission treatment directly to Britain’s sick and injured.
Salford commuter Brenda Gregory, 68, a former physiotherapist, said the amount of waste in the NHS justifies a tightening of the fiscal belt.
She said: “The way that the NHS is going, we’ll have to see some drastic changes.
"I worked there for 30 years, and I saw many people not willing to work, and lots of money being mis-spent.”
Her husband, Vincent, 67, said: "We’ll have to wait and see if the reforms work. One thing is for certain, the NHS certainly doesn’t work at the moment.”
Thomas Wilson, 24, from Salford, said: “When more advanced countries like the US are fighting for healthcare like ours, to change it so drastically is disgraceful.”
Much of Britain has reacted in protest to the drastic changes.
A petition against the reforms by campaign group 38 Degrees currently has 597,866 signatures.
Health professionals have too spoken out against the dramatic restructuring.
Dr Hamish Meldrum of the British Medical Association (BMA) criticised the Bill and added it “places too much emphasis on using market forces, risking greater fragmentation of our health service”.
The BMA's Richard Jarvis said the legislation was damaging.
The World Health Organsiation rated the UK at number 18 in the world.
The US, which relies on private healthcare, was ranked at 37, behind countries such as Saudi Arabia, Colombia, and Morocco with far fewer resources.
The Bill is expected to come into effect in August 2012.