The end of our National Health Service.

These are not the words of the Coalition of Resistance, or another campaign group, but the title of an editorial in the medical journal The Lancet:

Health professionals cannot say that no change is needed—it most certainly is. But there is sufficient uncertainty and concern about the changes outlined in the Health and Social Care Bill to pause, to learn from the past, and to consider what the changes mean for patients’ outcomes. As it stands, the UK Government’s new Bill spells the end of the NHS.

The Lancet at least accepts the government line that the NHS is failing. An article in the British Medical Journal questions this, finding flaws in the statistics used to make this case:

… long term trends are evident for breast cancer mortality. Since 1989, age standardised death rates per 100 000 in the UK have fallen by 40% (from 37.8 to 24.4) to virtually close the gap with France, where they have fallen by just 10% (from 25.5 to 22.0)

The Royal College of Nursing similarly expresses reservations about the government’s plans:

These huge reforms are set to be introduced at a time of major financial constraints and during a £20 billion efficiency drive, adding to the burden of an already overworked workforce and service. It is our fear that the dual challenge of reform and efficiency savings could damage the quality of patient care.”

So, the question is, whose judgement do you trust on the future of our National Health Service? The professionals who work in the service, or a bunch of reckless amateurs whose election campaign was bankrolled by private healthcare companies?