When did privatisation become a dirty word?

From the moment the Conservative party returned to a semblance of power the media has fretted about the risk of privatisation. Alas, they were given the ammunition they needed with the subsequent push for NHS reforms by Andrew Lansley.

Privatisation that dirty word had reared its ugly head. After the dismal failures of rail privatisation even I couldn’t help but read about the reforms with a mixture of despair and scepticism fully aware of the storm that would be brewing. And  so I was proved correct with every Royal College (even the most obscure) coming out of the woodwork to spew vitriol about reforms.

“This is backdoor privatisation!”

“Save our NHS, profits will destroy care,”came the shrill cries.

Now hold on a second, right there. Private corporations around the world provide exceptional services to the great and the good on a daily basis. There have been disasters, of course, but lets take a second to review. Companies function on the basis of a central tenet:

Competition. Who selects the best competitors in a capitalist market?

Consumers. They vote with their wallets.

How about the NHS? Well, I don’t advocate wholesale privatisation, in fact, I think that would be a disaster.

However, what will define the best competitors in privatised system? Two words.

Clinical Excellence.

Privatisation doesn’t necessarily mean independence and government can still define the rules of the game that we play. Regulation is needed most at this moment in time but with a purpose. We can regulate the services that can be privatised and most often they will be the most difficult to deliver at which the NHS is already struggling. There is no solution but we need to take stock of our NHS and its ability to cope with our ageing population amongst other issues.

We can find a solution. The answer isn’t as simple as UK vs US or public vs private. It’s not black and white.

Whether we like it or not the likely solution will involve a private sector solution to a public sector problem.

And before you go any further, it doesn’t have to disrupt the final point of care that patients receive.

Agree, disagree,discuss? Tweet me @Saif_Abed

Dr Saif F Abed
Founding Partner
AbedGraham Healthcare Strategies Ltd




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