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Michael Moore’s “Sicko” shows the future of the NHS, says GP leader

12 November 2007

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Private sector involvement threatens the future of the NHS and will hit the sick and the poor, the British Medical Association’s GP leader has told Management in Practice.

Dr Laurence Buckman, chairman of the BMA’s General Practitioner’s Committee, says he “cannot see any way that private and NHS provision can coexist within the NHS without the sick and the poor ending up with a limited core service as the private sector creams off the cheaper quick-hit stuff.”

Dr Buckman was writing a comment piece for Management in Practice, in a feature to be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

Michael Moore’s film Sicko has hit UK cinema screens, and denigrates the US healthcare system, comparing it unfavourably with the NHS’s free-at-the-point-of-delivery system.

So Management in Practice has asked commentators whether they think increasing private sector involvement in the UK could actually threaten the principles of the NHS.

Dr Buckman has written: “Once the private sector has milked the NHS dry, as it surely will, and the old GP services and premises are no more, then they will rightly want their investment back and prices will rise.

“Once the NHS cannot pay, we will see patient copayments and the poor will end up with less and cheaper care.”

The full feature will be published in the Jan/Feb 2008 issue of Management in Practice.

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Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

“I used to work as an Information Analyst in the NHS. We have finally completely separated the NHS into two sections: the providers of healthcare (clinics, GP practices, hospitals, etc) and the payers of healthcare (PCTs). The system is now ready to be changed into a private insurance healthcare system. All we need is for PCTs to be abolished and replaced with private health insurers and, bam, we have the terrible profit-first-healthcare-last system that the USA has. I suspect this has been planned for some time” – Name and address supplied

“I think it is entirely possible. The private sector is already getting a foot in the door and sadly there are some PCTs and GPs who are willing to get into bed with them. Many of these GPs are not entrepreneurs or business orientated and they will sadly be fleeced by the private providers. It is also absolutely true that private providers cherry pick to the detriment of the NHS. It will not be long before they get into a sufficiently strong position to destroy the NHS” – Allan M Stewart, Bebington

“it is sad that here in UK we have to copy the USA-style healthcare system, getting rid of the UK’s world-famous NHS care system. It is true that here in the UK there are flaws in the system, as UK healthcare spin masters are trying to copy their USA counterparts. Already the NHS is looking sadly distant from reality in terms of structure, performance and resources. The  more it gets privatised, the more healthcare will become  distanced from people’s needs and rather fulfill the needs of shareholders. The NHS survived because the UK was lucky to have dedicated clinicians who looked after sick and ill people, and who never grumbled about filling up their pockets. But now it is the other way round. We hear lots of grumbling as how to fill up the pockets but no dedication or commitment, and a blame culture has become rife, ruining the trust between doctors all across the UK. The doctors who are whistleblowing on each other are the very ones who never really cared to look after sick and ill people, and who lacked commitment, only selfishly filling up their pockets. Instead of getting blamed themselves for ruining the NHS healthcare system they keep on blaming the health secretary, and keep on changing the health secretary – it’s very convenient to do this because the poor guy has no idea what exactly is happening at a local level” – Name and address supplied

“I totally agree with Dr Laurence Buckman” – Name and address supplied