Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Reform and the NHS - worrying calls from the right

I must say that I was again shocked by the latest report of public services think tank Reform. They argue for reductions in NHS hospital beds and for care to be moved out into the community, therefore saving money. This is fair enough and replicates much of what goes on in the country.

Unfortunately they then focus in on the fact that the North East has more beds per 1,000 population, with the clear link that the North East has over provision of hospital beds. I recall Tory health spokesperson Chris Grayling making a similar point on a visit up here. These right wing think tanks ignore that the North East has high levels of poor health due to its history of heavy industry and poverty. In addition, it has a relatively low population meaning that the number of beds per 1,000 people will be lower as you need minimum bed numbers. All of the hospitals need to be careful with their budgets but I sense that the right in Britain is edging towards wanting to cut the NHS further and to focus in on the North East.

Reform has both Labour and Lib Dem MPs on its advisory board. I worry that this gives too much of an image of Reform as a balanced think tank. I wonder if these centre left MPs should rethink their position.

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