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This DM notes that Andrew Lansley’s highly controversial Health & Social Care Act was eventually passed with minimal amendment, despite the opposition of most GPs, hospital doctors, health professionals and all of the health unions.
DM also notes that the publicly proclaimed objectives of the Bill (to put power in the hands of GPs, enhance patient choice, reduce bureaucracy, and improve efficiency) were the very opposite of its likely consequences, as the NHS in England faces £20 billion of cuts, fragmentation into upwards of 200 Clinical Commissioning Groups, and a growing profusion of bodies old and new, presided over by the bureaucratic and unaccountable NHS Commissioning Board and its network of offices.
Lansley’s complex and far-reaching, fundamental restructuring of the NHS is intended to open up a competitive market in health care, turn the NHS into little more than a fund of taxpayers’ money to purchase health care and facilitate the growing involvement of for-profit and non-profit private providers (“any qualified provider”) alongside the expansion of private beds and services in Foundation Trusts. This is despite the lack of any evidence that it will cut costs or improve services.
This DM therefore
Applauds and congratulates the campaigners and health unions who worked tirelessly to expose the true content of the Bill and to mobilise opposition to it over the 15 months from its first publication to the Royal assent, noting in particular the work of Keep Our NHS Public, and in the latter stages of the campaign the Royal College of General Practitioners, Public Health for NHS, and 38 Degrees.
Instructs the NEC to circulate details of KONP to branches and chapels, with a recommendation to support the campaign at local level.
Welcomes the firm commitment by Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, backed by Labour leader Ed Miliband, to reverse the legislation when Labour returns to office.
Urges NUJ members reporting on health to redouble their efforts to publicise the genuine content and implications of the Bill and the various issues arising as it is implemented – and to make every effort to report the concerns raised by the health trade unions and professional bodies on the Bill and on the impact of the £20 billion “efficiency” cuts on access to services, including mental health, and the quality of care available to patients.
Notes the need for health reporters to access appropriate information and training to ensure they can help explain the new structures and workings of the NHS to the wider public.
Noting that health is not included in the NCTJ syllabus, instructs the NEC, through the PTC, to investigate and seek ways for the NUJ to meet the ongoing training needs of health reporters, to ensure that they and their publics are better informed.
This DM instructs the NEC to:
1) Release a statement outlining the union’s opposition to the Health and Social Care Act and the damaging effect it will have on the NHS and members’ access to healthcare in the future.
2) To build up resources and provide support for journalists to report accurately on health policy.
3) Encourage branches to work with their local Keep Our NHS Public groups and other local organisations campaigning against Lansley’s NHS reforms.
4) To put a prominent statement on the union’s website condemning the Health and Social Care Act and providing links to information and resources associated with the national campaigns against it.
Oxford and District Branch
as amended by London Magazine Branch