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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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on 16 July 2015
The book was written with the last election in mind and this makes it slightly out of date, hence my 4 star rating. Having said that it is an excellent reference book for anyone with concerns about the way the NHS is being taken. It is well referenced so one can easily find further reading and the contributes are all experts in their particular field. The book is not difficult to read so I would recommend it to all who want to know more about the NHS.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 3 July 2013
This powerful and well-researched book written by a team of health activists details how the public service principle of the NHS, founded in 1948, have been undermined by successive Tory, Lib Dem and Labour politicians over the last 30 years.
'NHS SOS' reveals how Andrew Lansley's radical pro-market health "reforms"(never mentioned in the 2010 Tory election manifesto), now enshrined in law, are designed to open up the NHS to profit-seeking companies.
The final chapter is a guide to save the NHS and this important, eye-opening book should be read by anyone wishing to understand how politicians, journalists and some of the medical profession have betrayed our health service.
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on 10 April 2017
Gosh it's unputdownable, depressing but uplifting in that the authors signpost as to what we can do, how we can start to help put things right. Should be a must read for everyone.
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on 26 July 2013
This book lays bare the terrible conspiracy to open up our NHS to an American system of market-led competition. This will inevitably substitute an inefficient, inequitable and expensive system for what was relatively efficient, equitable and inexpensive. It will also almost certainly lead, over the next few years, to declining population health and rationing of access for those who can't afford private insurance. And why? So that (largely American-based) Healthcare Corporations can take over the commissioning and provision of the NHS and make enormous profits for shareholders and bonuses for senior managers in the process.

It also exposes terrible corruption in the political classes, ineptitude, possibly complicity, by professional organisations and journalists and the determination of the capitalists to have things their way. It has taken thirty years of persistent campaigning and corruption to get here but unless someone (the Labour Party???) with political clout takes up the fight we might as well say the NHS died on its 65th birthday!

Being a retired consultant in old age psychiatry with a long-term interest in service design and delivery and co-author of a book for doctors in management Practical Management and Leadership for Doctors I was already aware, to a point, of what was going on. Now I know the details, I am incandescent.

Buy, read, act!
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on 6 July 2013
"The NHS will be a state insurance provider not a state deliverer" is the key message of this book. The reforms of the NHS over the past 30 years, carried out by both Labour and Tory/Lib Dem governments, have been a vehicle to enable the creation of conditions whereby private providers can gain access to billions of pounds of health funding.

The book is a multi-author series of essays that each addresses aspects of the assault upon our health service. The reader is presented with the evidence of what actually happened; how the introduction of a full-blown market into the National Health Service was carefully planned. The authors convincingly set out a good case that the latest set of NHS reforms were a fraudulent deception on the part of mainstream politicians beyond reasonable doubt and that the assault on the NHS is also an assault upon democracy. This is the books great strength.

The weakness is the section which deals with 'what is to be done?' to save our health service. Taking the NHS back into being a public provider isn't suggested, whereas as this is surely an essential first step, and no solution to the attack upon democracy embodied by the health reforms is addressed such as the social-democratic proposal of elected health boards to both increase service accountability and prevent future attacks by the vultures and spivs, as advocated in Player and Leys 'The Plot Against the NHS'.

That criticism aside, this is an essential book and everyone should read it and judge our politicians accordingly.
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on 18 January 2014
"NHS SOS: How the NHS was betrayed - and how we can save it" is a collection of writing on the Coalitions NHS deforms ably put together by Dr Jackie Davis and Prof Raymond Tallis to enlighten the general public on what the implications of the reforms are, a task that the mainstream media have unsurprisingly failed to accomplish.

After a short foreword from Ken Loach, and an introduction to the book and the issues covered by Raymond Tallis, we have John Lister's (see Health Policy Reform: Global Health Versus Private Profit) opening chapter "Breaking the Public Trust" which makes clear that the Coalition has absolutely no mandate for their "reforms" (it was in neither parties manifestos nor in the coalition agreement) and summarises the main thrust of them which is far from the GP led health service that has featured so prominently in public discourse.

Stewart Player (see The Plot Against the NHS &Confuse and Conceal) in "Ready for the Market" looks into how the NHS was re-engineered over many years to the stage where it could be essentially consumed by private sector interests. He is perhaps a little confusing though undoubtedly this reflects the ad hoc, underhand and opportunistic nature of the private sectors penetration of the NHS. In "Parliamentary Bombshell" Dr David Wrigley charts the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary progress of the Coalitions Health Bill, revealing the arrogance of power, and if anyone was in any doubt, the spineless supine-ness of Shirley Williams.

Dr Jacky Davis and Dr Wrigley go on in "The Silence of the Lambs" to dissect the actions of those who are supposed to represent Consultants, Doctors and Nurses (the BMA and the Royal Colleges) and tells a story which at best paints them as naïve in their engagement with the Coalition, and at worst as complicit, undemocratic collaborators. Retired GP and former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Dr Charles West's "A Failure of Politics" reports from inside the Liberal Democrat camp, and makes crystal clear the manipulative, duplicitous and undemocratic nature of the parties parliamentary leadership. West also takes a look at conflicts of interests within parliament, noting that 70 MP's and 142 Peers have interests in the private health sector, probably a somewhat higher ratio than one would expect amongst voters, and perhaps indicative of who these MP's and Peers really represent - not the people but private interests.

Oliver Huitson, a co-editor of the British section of the OpenDemocracy website (& contributor to Public Service on the Brink) examines the lamentable record of the media's coverage of the Coalitions Health Bill. The focus is on the BBC's poor performance, including its practically non-existent coverage of the conflicts of interests of those Peers and MP's connected to the private health sector, and their endless regurgitation of Coalition slogans in lieu of informed analysis, not to mention labelling industry funded "think" tanks as independent! Even the Mail and Torygraph come out better (but not by much).

Prof Allyson Pollock (see NHS Plc: The Privatisation of Our Health Care) and David Price dissect the Coalitions Health Bill in "From Cradle to Grave" and make clear its implications: the destruction of the NHS, power devolved onto unaccountable private bodies who may ration treatments and choose patients at their pleasure. Those parts of the NHS that the private sector is not interested in (eg. Mental Health) are to be transferred to Local Authorities, the very same Local Authorities who have faced the biggest spending cuts under the Coalitions Austerity Regime (basically a feel-good name for an off the IMF shelf Structural Adjustment Program). Jacky Davis and Raymond Tallis finish with an excellent guide to saving the NHS from destruction which includes many resources and contacts for those who wish to fight back against this miserable and mendacious Coalitions policies. This is a book that Id strongly recommend, in particular to those in England as the NHS in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is thus far free from the most pernicious aspects of privatisation, though as a precautionary measure it is no doubt relavent in those countries too as doubtlessly once the private sector has their snouts well and truly in the NHS trough they will look to expand their operations over the borders.
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on 24 July 2013
Its the most important book ever written on the modern NHS. It did wonders for my low blood pressure. I am a GP and have put it in the waiting room. I have told all my patients and colleagues, and am amazed it has not been talked about more in the media,(there's a chapter in the book that might be relevant). I feel all NHS staff should read it, as, apart from opening their eyes to the destruction of the NHS, its a very good read.
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on 10 August 2013
I do not want to repeat other reviews, which describe the book in general terms, but concentrate on the overarching implications for British, or more specifically, English, democracy. Just bear in mind that the government has relinquished its old responsibility of providing comprehensive health care to the citizens of England. In his Dimbleby Lecture of 1976, Lord Hailsham spoke of what he called the "elective dictatorship". He described a House of Commons more or less rubber-stamping legislation promoted by the executive, with little in the way of opposition. This book describes the advanced state of this "elective dictatorship" nearly 40 years later. In the case of the health bill, this process has now been amplified by a series of other anti-democratic phenomena outlined in the Afterword of the book under the heading of `key lessons'. The authors lay out several of these and they are closely related to the general argument of the book.

The first is the mendacity of politicians and the total lack of their discomfiture on being found out. This almost defining characteristic of their class enabled the coalition to conceal the purposes of Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill right up to the end of its parliamentary journey, and they still do so. Secondly, the book draws attention to the fact that many parliamentarians had financial interests in commercial health companies and that these individuals voted for the bill. A more arcane but important thing was the lack of democratic processes in most of the supposedly democratic professional organisations - the British Medical Association and the Royal Colleges of Physicians, Surgeons and others. Members of these powerful organisations found it difficult or impossible to get the bill discussed in the forums prescribed by their constitutions. This failure was very likely a game-changer. Was this a result of those Raymond Tallis calls `useful idiots' not realising what was going on or of some other hidden cause. Finally, and just as importantly, there is the failure of the media, in particular the BBC, in informing the public about the bill and its background. In a devastating chapter with the title, `Hidden in Plain Sight', Oliver Huitson shows how these newspapers and broadcasters, self-styled guardians of our democracy, greatly assisted the government in its task by omissions, poor analyses and repetition of the government line without much modification. Only Channel 4 News and the Guardian come out with much credit. Let me quote a small passage to give the flavour:

"On the BBC's This Week programme, Michael Portillo admitted, astonishingly, `[the Tories] didn't believe they could win an election if they told you what they were going to do'. Yet concerns over the health bill's democratic mandate were mentioned only twice by the BBC in their online news and analysis in the nearly two years of debate. For some reason, they did not deem it an issue worth exploring".
Huitson concludes his chapter: "The health bill, a near perfect vision of Westminster's appropriation by high commerce, only made the disparity between reality and reporting all the more stark".

Prof. Allyson Pollock and David Price state in their chapter "that the bill became law in the end is testimony not to our robust democratic processes, but the autocratic power of government". It was a "constitutional outrage". Later, they claim it to be "a catastrophe" , "an act of tyranny". Strong words but outrage pervades these pages. They outline a change hardly reported, even in this book: "under the new system...the health care market can choose the services they wish to provide and the patients for whom they provide them. The principle is not, as the Coalition Government repeatedly claimed, increased patient choice but increased CHOICE OF PATIENT [the authors' stress]. As I read it, patients will not have the automatic right to a GP practice (you are registered with a practice now, not the individual doctor), so difficult, time consuming or expensive patients might find themselves without such a service (in the past, they could be allocated to a practice by the NHS). What is to become of such people? Apparently the provider of last resort is the local authority. What part of my local council do I contact to deal with my flu? Doubtless, we shall all find out very soon.

These 'reforms' are not a matter of the left and right of politics. Those on the right who support neo-liberal economics have every right to promote private health care and argue vigorously for such a system. What they do not have the right to do is smuggle their laws through parliament by deception and without a mandate.

The changes described in the book apply only to those living in England. Those in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland continue to enjoy the old NHS.
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on 22 July 2013
Am reading it now with view to joining health focus-group on shaping local NHS services. So far am impressed with the presentation of the arguments for keeping our NHS public. A very distinguished group of contributors.
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on 18 November 2013
If you want the truth about what is happening to the NHS, and not just government hype, then you must read this. Well researched with contributions from doctors and academics. This book exposes the systematic fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS, started under Labour but accelerated under the Con-Dem government. This will lead to poorer, more expensive care without universal coverage. Unfortunately there was no effective opposition from the BMA and other Royal Colleges, except the Royal College of GPs.
There is still hope, the book details what we can all do to help retrieve the NHS.
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