The OFT will oversee NHS mergers. What does that tell us?

The OFT has announced its guidelines for approving NHS mergers. What these guidelines say, and how, speaks volumes about how the government really regards the NHS, Please take a look at this analysis and spread the word.

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The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) yesterday published guidance on its role in adjudicating the mergers of NHS Foundation Trusts (FTs) and other NHS bodies.

A reading of the announcement, and of the ‘FAQ’ that it links to, reinforces much of what most worries (or if you’re not worried by it, you should be) NHS observers and activists about the way this government views and treats the NHS – and reveals a few new bits of information that do nothing to reduce those concerns.

What’s in a name?

A lot, really. The Office of Fair Trading tells you all you need to know, in a nutshell, about how this government regards health care – a business matter, a financial transaction. A trade, But let’s ‘unpack the nutshell’ a little.

‘It’s independent, Jim, but not as we know it!’

The OFT styles itself as ‘an independent competition authority’. However, for…

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5 responses to “The OFT will oversee NHS mergers. What does that tell us?

  1. Pingback: The SKWAWKBOX Blog | Welfare, Disability, Politics and People's Right's |·

  2. Very cogent piece. As you say, whatever the rhetoric, the evidence suggests that the direction of travel is as follows: dentistry/glasses/hearing aids etc – poorly accessible, NHS service on 2nd tier, better/more conducive if you sign up as a private patient (with the same people or others)[err … that’s already happened], similar for general practices, probably similar for groups of community services, local/district hospitals to be obliterated (mergers, financial pressures etc), community and cottage hospitals now small enough to be exposed to the above, huge University and Specialist Trusts probably run directly under the NHS as too frightening for the private healthcare (as opposed to the pharmaceutical) sector – and they’re not interested in teaching & research/clinical trials anyway; and they have other sources of income to subsidise NHS treatment eg University, research, private wings treating foreign patients, patented equipment & developments etc.
    It’s not what the public (especially the elderly) want or would vote for but it’s what they’re going to get and indeed accept if the government can get them to swallow the false indignation exhibited by ministers at every blip in the service (while ignoring any poor care provided by the private sector even if it’s commoner).
    This is a massive uphill struggle but the gloves really need to be off this time!

    • False indignation – couldn’t be better put. Crocodile tears while they rub their hands in glee behind closed doors at the prospect of yet another nail in the coffin of public esteem for the NHS. It’s criminal.

  3. Andy Burnham Tweets “I was in Royal Blackburn, Sat. Patients in corridoors, nurses tearing hair out. No beds”.
    Recent news – DoH heading for it’s largest ever underspend (2bn?).

    When he was health minister and the Stafford story broke, AB’s priority was, he says, to do things to assess and assist the situation. Which he did – to now extremely good effect. Is not closure of all acute services in Mid Staffs (currently proposed) a) an insult to his sensible and thoughtful approach, b) an opportunity missed in terms of having MSGH as somewhere to learn from (eg struggling hospital above) and c) an obscenity when clearly there is enough money in the system now to support recovering services and the necessary “change in culture” needed post Francis2.
    All of this is a gift for Mr Burnham – why is he not putting the boot in? Yes there will be references back to what New Labour did but surely they can take it, as the arguments are on their side and the current government’s direction of travel can be so easily exposed (and the public won’t like it if they understand it fully).

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