“Sheffield Green Party believes that health services should be free at the point of need and provided by the public service, not private companies. It is hypocritical of Labour and Lib Dem politicians to criticise One Medicare, who run the walk-in centre in the city centre, for charging for treatment of road traffic accidents. The centre is a “poly clinic” of the type recommended by Lord Darzi and forced on Sheffield PCT by the Labour government in 2009.
As for the Lib Dems, they were in power in Sheffield at the time, and did not object to the new service, indeed the council played a part in promoting it. And, of course, at national level the Tory/Lib Dem coalition supports sweeping privatisation of services. For instance, hospitals will be allowed to transfer half their work into the private sector, charging patients for the whole range of services and reducing their capacity for non-paying patients. More and more people will find themselves having to pay for treatment “at the point of need”.
As for the specific issue of charging for the treatment of whiplash injuries, this is not new. Under the Road Traffic Act (which has existed since1930 but was last refreshed under Labour in 1999) NHS hospitals can levy a fee for emergency treatment of road traffic accidents from the driver of the vehicle whether or not they were at fault. The same legislation allows private doctors to contact the driver and ask directly for payment. Without knowing exactly how One Medicare are operating their system for recouping costs it is difficult to comment on the legality of what they are doing. But the fact is that marketising the NHS and putting services into the hands of private companies whose rationale is to make a profit, was always going to make this kind of thing more likely.
For the record, Cllr Jillian Creasy did object to the new clinic, both in her role as a councillor for Central ward and as a local GP. And she made the call to reverse the privatisation of the NHS, which became endemic under Labour, a major plank of her 2010 election campaign. We support the planned demonstration by Sheffield Save our NHS outside the walk-in centre, but let us not forget who was responsible for setting up a privately run clinic in Sheffield.” ENDS
The attached picture shows Cllr Jillian Creasy speaking at a Sheffield Save our NHS rally at the Town Hall.