Observations Health and Social Care Act

The future of the NHS—irreversible privatisation?

BMJ 2013; 346 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1848 (Published 20 March 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1848

This is the edited transcript of a video interview carried out on 3 March 2013 by Jill Mountford with Dr Lucy Reynolds, research fellow at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Dr Reynolds has studied the background of the NHS in detail, and in the interview she shares her view of the consequences of the NHS reforms and possible privatisation of the NHS

JILL MOUNTFORD: Lucy, can you explain to us what is going on right now? The Health and Social Care Act has been law now for almost a year, and we thought surely that’s all going to go ahead. All of a sudden there is a lot of movement, a lot of anxiety and a lot of agitation around something that’s happening in parliament that’s going to have a big effect on the National Health Service. What is it and why?

LUCY REYNOLDS: The health and social care bill was passed in the form as if it were an aeroplane with no engines. The structure was all there. Its significance was not very plain to many people unfortunately. They looked at it and couldn’t really understand what they were looking at. They couldn’t find the thing in it that was actually going to accomplish the privatisation because really the only marker of it was a little clause explaining that regulations would be issued.

Now those regulations [section 75] are with us, and those regulations provide the jet engines to make that privatisation go ahead. So all of the rest of the plane was put in place last year, and now at the very last minute before this whole thing happens on 1 April 2013 the regulations are coming into place to show that everything has to be put out to competitive markets by CCGs [clinical commissioning groups] …

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