The student body on campus, variable, unbiased but passionate has uncovered some true feelings towards the NHS reforms today as both the lay public and healthcare students voiced their opinions on the subject. This was a purely opportunistic survey, with no prior advertising, just 100% the views of students attending.
An overriding concern is the lack of experience GPs have as managers, if they are really going to be apt at budgeting resources for their patients effectively, without compromising care. There was a general feeling of abandonment by the government in decreasing patient care and choice, when there were originally promises to increase these areas as part of the coalition government.
One particularly interesting view was that of a daughter of a GP, “there hasn’t been enough time for the last idea to work, why are we changing it now? OK there has to be change but why does it have to mean increased managerial responsibilities for doctors. It is just going to be an exercise in wasting time and money.”
There is some support for some of the ideas that are being proposed but the whole collaboration of reforms has left many confused and baffled by the concept. Even those that have a positive outlook on the reforms, have little construction when it comes to validating their argument, and are quick to change their opinion when faced with the reality of what it might entail for the health of the nation. Rather than improving the current situation there is a sense that there might be inflammation of the current problems, with further inequalities developing and possible reductions in access to healthcare. Even if these opinions are not substantiated by evidence, this is how the “Big Society” is feeling about the changes, and surely this should be listened to by those with the power to change.
The worries over privatisation of services are alarming, with worries over cost, detrimental effects to the quality of healthcare and an overall negative impact on society as a whole. Also, the negativity towards NHS cuts, and the fact that it has not been safeguarded, is leaving many questioning why they should have faith in the current system as a whole.
Healthcare students, who have had more exposure to the view-points of professionals first-hand, are not just concerned about the issues of leading towards privatisation and the managerial responsibilities for GPs, but also their career progression, with some medical students who had previously yearned to be a GP, now more hesitant with an increase in pressure on financing and less patient interaction. The MEDSOC president not only voiced the usual concerns, but also volunteered that, “There is the chance that this is not only about economics, but about passing the buck from medical managers to the frontline, aka GPs, increasing pressure on them to provide services that they are unable to do due to financial constraints. Therefore, giving a face and a name to blame for so called postcode lotteries”.
Surely for our so called “Big Society” to function, everyone should have the same opportunities as the next person? From today I get the impression that very few are feeling that this will still be the case if, and when, these reforms go through.