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Page last updated at 11:43 GMT, Tuesday, 8 July 2008 12:43 UK

NHS for Sale: Your Comments

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Thank you for sending us your comments on Panorama: NHS for Sale.

The debate is now closed but a selection of your views are published below.

Panorama: NHS for Sale was shown on BBC One at 8.30pm on Monday 7 July 2008.

I work in the NHS. It's like a private corporation. Overpaid Directors and bonuses! We'll go the same way as the yanks. You can't have a doc if you don't have the money - I know, I lived there. It's terrible. Labour is selling its people down the river. I've paid my stamp for years and years. How dare they give what's mine away. The old (me soon) and the vulnerable won't have a chance. Private Health is already here and it'll get worse and worse. Get rid of it now, before it really is too late. Save our GPs and save our NHS. Ours. Not theirs!
Susan Skerry

The NHS is about to encounter a change in costs several orders of magnitude higher than ever before experienced. New cancer drugs alone will make drug costs asymptotic. The private commercial parasitism is more alert to this than the naively groping NHS. Let commerce in and, disaster looms. Farewell NHS. A splendid system about to be wrecked by indifferent commercialism of USA origin fostered by ignorance and indifference to commercial techniques applied to healthcare.
John Peter Walsh

Last night's Panorama was quite possibly one of the worst I have ever watched. The programme was quite lazy in its approach to providing information, facts and figures to the viewer, who was left wondering what on earth the participants were talking about. For example, in one scene we learn that one private hospital on contract to the NHS works at less than 100% capacity the hint being that this is bad. No information was given as to how this 'occupancy level' compared with NHS hospitals - is it higher, lower or about the same? How on earth is the viewer supposed to make a judgement without that information? After being told by Sally that the private sector gets paid even though it doesn't carry out the work, in the next scene she poses the question, don't profits entice the private sector to do unnecessary work i.e. do too much! Where did that come from? Did anyone carry out any research into this area? What were the results? Later we were told that GPs in supermarkets was a great idea but again there was no analysis - what do these services cost?, what outcomes do they achieve?, how does that compare to current outcomes vs cost? The whole programme felt like it had been put together by two media studies students who telephoned Sally a couple of days before to ask her if she would present the programme! Your interviewees could have been better - where was Niall Dickson of the King's Fund? Gerry Robinson? Evan Davies or Stephanie Flanders? The BBC has some excellent journalists who can put together some superb broadcasts. This sadly was not one of them.
Irene Wilson

An interesting and timely programme. A good analysis by Alison Pollock. A counterpoint to the business representative, glittery eyed at the prospect of earning a packet off the NHS, might have been to show how competition and private provision of health care can generate profit through cuts in health care provision to the most needy by using the US as an example. As someone who has lived in the US I feel sickened by the extent to which our government is seeking to introduce competition and private provision into our NHS and to open that market to US health insurers.
Sue Povall

A brilliant programme but extremely worrying. I'm terrified after seeing this. Its only a matter of time if we start commissioning to American multinationals - 20 yrs and free healthcare will be a thing of the past, we are on a slippery slope. People moan about the service they are getting, but the reality of the American healthcare system is potentially being left to die, despite having insurance...would you prefer this over having less choice? I certainly know which I would prefer! The NHS is fundamental to the fabric of our society and we fought so hard to get it. Health affects all other aspects of our lives. I don't want dirty American shareholders playing with my life or my family and I would rather leave this country than see that happen....action is urgently needed.

Forget providing a better service and driving out the under performing GPs, once the private health companies get their hands on our public money it will automatically be siphoned off into the pockets of their shareholders. Private companies have one aim and one aim only and that is to make money. Remember the privatisation programs of the Thatcher era? How much over the odds are we paying for Gas, Oil, Electricity, Water etc and once privatised how much over the odds will we be paying for health care? Shame on Alan Johnson and his ilk for even contemplating such a thoughts. It may be a good idea for us all emigrate to Wales or Scotland.
Stephen Kay

I feel that with the inevitable privatisation of the mental health services of Northamptonshire NHS Trust is an indication that the sub-prime minister Gordon Brown rather than being on the left of politics as he claimed to be has abdicated his principles in favour of supporting policies that are more right wing than even Margaret Thatcher and as such we are now seeing the systematic destruction of the Labour party and more importantly the country.
James Thurston

The destruction of an organisation that I have 'slaved' for over 22 years is assured by this government's policies. They do not understand that staff have loyalty to the NHS and have clear objectives in improving the health of patients without any vested interest. They are lying to the British public. Nowhere in the world has competition actually improved the provision of an holistic service. You can pick off the profitable 'bits' but then the losers are those in most need of care like the elderly, patients with mental health issues, patients with learning difficulties.
Paul Alford

Public healthcare and private providers will never make good bedfellows. There will always be a conflict of interests between share holders and care standards. This has already happened with the provision of elderly care beds by private companies. In my experience as a nurse in the private care home sector I can provide many examples of where profit has taken precedence over care issues.
Christopher Humm

An excellent programme. The Government are hoodwinking the public and selling the NHS to private firms by stealth. They constantly undermine NHS staff with bad news stories and punitive contracts then use this as an excuse to sell to private providers. We will wake up one day to find much of what we now take for granted in the hands of private American firms who only care about profit. Shame on Labour.

Your programme last night was very good. I am particularly glad that you drew attention to (i) the lack of evidence to support the government's attempted assurances that their increasing involvement of the private sector has dividends for patients (let alone taxpayers); and (ii) the expense of PFI schemes compared with government financed developments.
Iain Chalmers

We are a practice just taken over by a private health care provider. By what we have seen so far, these groups are very good at producing convincing business plans, very good at presentations during interviews and so easily able to win over PCTs who are desperate to find someone to take on these struggling surgeries. However, of course they are taking over to make profits. We do not have a Practice manager on site, the building (rented from the PCT) has many faults but will not be rectified due to lack of money. It is a slippery slope which will inevitably put the NHS into the hands of money making business groups. GPs are not cutting edge managers - they are Doctors of medicine, so normal Partnerships of GPs are not equipped to win this race to make quick bucks. They do have a small caring team around them which support each other and do their best for their patients. Big companies can never do this. We are short of staff, stressed and do not have job satisfaction! We were promised lots, but can see there will be no improvements for us. Yes - the patients will get extended opening times, which we know has been the main request for some time, but there are other factors to consider, some intangible and difficult to measure.
Chris Turnbull, Practice Nurse

Sally Magnusson should be congratulated on an excellent programme which explained just what is happening to primary care in England. One of this government's legacies is likely to be the destruction of the family doctor service in this country and it makes me very sad to see this as a GP serving a local community for 15 years.
Rachel Tinker

Frank Dobson is, in his own words, ideologically opposed to a private sector where profit takes precedence. Stuff the ideology Frank! We want good patient outcomes and value for money. What could be better than a bit of competitive capitalism to drive out self-interested, inefficient and lazy public sector practices?
Jon Pavitt

More privatisation means more money in shareholders pockets and less to spend on the welfare of the population.
Andrew Kochen

Bevan must be turning in his grave, Labour privatising the health service. Pensioners who have paid all their lives for the NHS will receive a second class service just at an age where treatment for some illness is likely.
K. R. Thickitt

NHS For Sale was I thought very worrying for the future of our free NHS at the point of need. A vast majority of GPs provide a good service to their patients in my view. I do not think that private medical companies should be allowed to buy into the NHS especially foreign companies. They do not understand how the NHS works and in many cases the needs of the patients it serves. If they need medical care they are patients and not customers as many private companies call them. I think that Frank Dobson, a former Health Secretary, is right and should be listened to by those who are all concerned for the future of the NHS. I am sure the Government has heard his concerns loud and clear. This must remain a free service to all, which is the most important principle of the NHS now sixty years old.
Steve Fuller

I cannot see how things could be worse in Polyclinics. At present I have to call the surgery at 8am, If I can get through there are probably no appointments left for that day so am told to call again the next day. Very rarely do we see the same doctor. All this talk about your GP knowing you and your history is rubbish you have to take pot luck on whom you see.
Norma Webber

Yet again another reminder from tonight's Panorama programme that some individuals (organisations contain these) are exploiting the NHS problems as a means of commercial profit for themselves and their shareholders. This should not be allowed. No one should be allowed to profit from the poor health of others.
Mike Matthews

I wish to complain that tonight's Panorama dedicated an entire 30 minute programme to the English NHS without making it clear that their comments applied only to England. The whole tone of the programme led viewers to believe that it applies to the whole of the UK when it does not. There was no attempt to draw any contrasts with how the NHS operates in other part of the UK, which actually might have underlined the point being made. This is completely contrary to the recommendations in the King Report. It seems that it did not take the BBC long to revert to type.
Peter Black

Thank you for your excellent programme this evening on the NHS, which has hopefully brought the proposals home to lots of people who really do not know what is going on. We have an excellent GP Surgery which is second to none. Our Doctors work extremely hard and patients come first, not profit. Doctors surgeries are not like supermarkets open all hours, they are places where the staff CARE about us, know us and we are not just numbers or stock on the shelves. We also live in a rural area and our local GP surgeries are paramount to us and the quality of our lives. There is no way that this privatisation through the back door should be happening. There is no extra money for GPs to extend their opening hours, so patients will suffer. Look what has happened to Dentistry in this country. If you can pay, you get treatment, if not, you go without. So will it be the same eventually for the GP Surgery, PAY OR DIE! We all have to fight for our lives and stop this happening.
Barbara Carter

I was very disappointed when viewing Panorama this evening to watch the typical NHS strategy bashing. I strongly feel that Panorama had the opportune moment to inform the public on the critical debate which is occurring regarding their NHS. What I watched however was a the usual demonising of the private sector, glorifying GP's yet omitting that all GP's in fact private providers of healthcare themselves. I also found it quite offensive to PCT commissioners, who consist of a mixture of highly trained NHS doctors and managers, that as your programme suggests such a highly skilled group can be so easily swayed or coerced by what is sold to be the demonic private sector factor when commissioning services. Whilst it is true that commissioning a world-class health service is a learning role for PCT's it is insulting to professionals working within that field to suggest that they are unable to distinguish between quality providers of care which meets the needs of its' local population and organisations which simply cherry-pick profitable work. What is clear is that the Bevan's NHS is struggling to meet with the needs of an increasingly demanding and expensive patient population and that within the current confines of the system it is struggling to compete at a global level. I am disappointed with the typical media spin that Panorama sold to the public and that a truly balanced argument was not presented. Ultimately to increase the knowledge and understanding of the general public to the true debate of what the NHS needs is surely more beneficial than the spin that was presented. I feel it is a great shame and waste of an opportunity to actually help inform the public on the debate surrounding the true issues.

PLEASE keep on at this. One programme is not enough. On one hand, the government seems to want complete control - now they seem happy to give it all away. If we do so, we will not be able to buy it in again. I do not want choice, and I don't believe competition helps, and I think private involvement is positively detrimental. We need to re-think, quickly!
Jonathan Brewer

Patient 'choice' is a misnomer. In June my GP decided I needed to see a consultant and I received the 'choice' form. When I logged in I was offered 3 hospitals and chose the local one where I had had the procedure carried out in 2003. No appointments available. I selected the second closest hospital - no appointments available. Of course the third hospital had just one appointment available. I do not believe that this is CHOICE but is tied in with the decision to close our local hospital! Today I have been to the hospital for the 4th time for treatment. the appointment asked me to attend for the day and arrive at 8:50 am. If I had driven it would have cost me 10 to park so opted for the bus, after explaining that to use the bus I would have to leave home at 7am - I live at the far side of the town from the local town centre with poor bus services. I would then need to catch the bus transporting me to the location of the hospital. They relented and said no later than 9:30 arrival. The procedure completed by 1 pm and then I had to get a family member to take me home, which meant that he had to leave work early. I am not happy with the way things are going!
Christine Arrowsmith

It is shame that the programme focussed on private vs public. It would have been a good opportunity for the BBC to look at all providers including not for profit social enterprises, third sector partnerships, GP consortiums etc. High quality care is what matters and that can not fairly be judged on only what form your company might be.
Rebecca Kilburn

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