Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Welsh Way

Last week, Department of Health minister Ben Bradshaw claimed Wales was going to miss out on extended GP surgery opening hours. Guardian columnist George Monbiot thinks the policy is an example of NHS privatisation by stealth.

You would do well to argue that the Welsh health service is headed for a similarly privatised destiny. But if we are going in the opposite direction, I can't help wondering where we will end up. What exactly is the big idea that unifies all this ...

The Health Minister says there are too many commissioning bodies, allowing patients to fall through the gaps. Meanwhile bigger trusts are being created. During last year's election campaign, Edwina Hart's predecessor was forced to clarify himself when he told a hustings that trusts had reached the end of their lives. A former doctor and senior public health official has been appointed as Wales's top civil servant. First Minister Rhodri Morgan has talked of a health service revolution. The One Wales agreement says the internal market will be brought to an end and there will be no PFI in the health service. But the Assembly Government is happy to use it to build schools.

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