The Doctors’ Association UK (DAUK) is voicing serious apprehensions about the Government’s decision to lean more heavily on the independent sector in order to tackle NHS waiting lists and workforce shortages. This strategy of outsourcing vital NHS services to private providers does little more than apply a plaster to a gaping wound.
The chronic underfunding and understaffing of the NHS over the past decade has left it struggling to keep pace with demand even before the COVID-19 crisis hit. The Government’s plan to redirect patients to the independent sector is little more than a deflection from addressing the fundamental issues plaguing our health services.
We see some merit in collaborations between the NHS and the independent sector, but without robust regulation, these alliances risk becoming a breeding ground for mediocrity in education and training, and can jeopardise patient safety. Further, it establishes a precedent for privatisation of the NHS via the backdoor.
In a statement, Dr Matt Kneale, Co-chair of the DAUK, expressed his frustrations:
“This abdication of responsibility by the Government towards the NHS is troubling. We urge the Government to confront the core issues contributing to the elective backlog, through sustainable investments in the NHS workforce, infrastructure, and capacity. The need of the hour is an increased focus on training and retaining more doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, with fair compensation for their dedication and hard work.”Dr Matt Kneale, Co-chair
It is DAUK’s view that without a comprehensive review and overhaul of the NHS’s long-term workforce plan, outsourcing more care could lead to an economic burden on taxpayers, with a risk of spiralling costs in the future. The Government must stop taking the easy way out and instead equip the NHS with the resources and manpower it urgently needs to reduce waiting times sustainably.
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