The Conservative Liberal Democrat Government’s plans for radical changes to the NHS have come under fire from GPs, nurses and their professional bodies. They are all criticising the plans, which they see as a threat to the NHS.
The Government is planning to abolish Primary Care Trusts like ours in Salford and to give control of the budgets for services to GPs. The Labour Health team are opposing this plan. It is the wrong reform at the wrong time and it will be expensive. A professor from Manchester Business School estimates that these changes could cost up to £3 billion – money that should be spent on patient care.
Most GPs do not back the Government’s plans - a recent survey found that nearly three quarters of GPs asked did not want these extra responsibilities. The British Medical Association said that the reforms risk undermining the stability and long-term future of the NHS. The Royal College of Nursing said the plans were untested and they pose a big risk to the future of the NHS. When doctors and nurses are saying the reforms should not happen, the Conservatives must think again.
The Government has also proposed changes to Disability Living Allowance, including a new medical assessment to cut the budget by £1billion. There is real concern about how this could affect disabled people and their carers. If a person with a disability loses their benefit, the person’s carer will also lose Carers Allowance. Some families will lose as much as £300 a month and it will be very hard for them to manage.
These Government proposals are wrong and they are badly thought-out. Another proposal is to cut Child Benefit for some families where one parent works while some families with two working parents will keep it, which is unfair. This is the first time that any Government has undermined the idea of Child Benefit being universal.
I am worried that other universal benefits such as Winter Fuel Allowance for pensioners will be next in line for cuts and I will continue to oppose such damaging ideas.