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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The book was written with the last election in mind and this makes it slightly out of date, hence my 4 star rating.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 14 August 2017
Great Read.
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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 13 January 2015
As I write this review, my medical compatriots are struggling to treat the sick (and the not-so-sick) who are overflowing the A&Es nationwide while private outfits and healthcare ventures are acquiring contracts running into millions (even as the first privately run hospital admits its failure). I thankfully got a few hours to trace the source of current misery to an incredulous health policy "redisorganisation" that transpired merely 30 months back, that of passing of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 through this book.

Being a recent, obviously elated medical graduate of that year who joined the medical workforce, I remember dedicating an awful lot of time reading endless stream of vacillating editorials, half-hearted post-mortems and trivia-driven, context-free reportage in the popular and the medical press. None of it however made the Bill, the eventual Act that passed and its implications any clearer. I lost interest as everyday commitments of being a young clinician took over and the curiosity to have the bill's legalese spelt out and discussed fell by the wayside. Moreover, despite being an active member of BMA (with a new BMJ copy through the door every weekend), I did not see any sustained campaign against the bill, any persistant alarm-calls that would mobilise or alarm me out of my stupor. I kept on conducting ward rounds in overcrowded hospitals, joining the team's sighs at the medically fit patients taking hospital beds as there was nowhere to discharge them what with the rapidly declining and funding-strapped social and community care networks. With no nurses to sometimes change patients into their gowns during my many A&E on-calls (forget basic, important observations), overworked and badly tempered senior nurses, screens glaring red with patients breaching four hour targets, I quickly started seeing A&E as the coalface of humanity where no respite from attendant chaos was in sight. I had the misfortune of seeing one of my favourite emergency medicine consultant- a stickler for perfection, a pedant with a P, running like a headless chicken managing acute patients and firing lessons at his juniors all at once eventually resign under myriad of pressures from non-medics whose concept of medical treatment is little beyond a conveyor belt stream of "attend patient, fill a proforma, send for scan/bloods, prescribe or operate and/or discharge in no more than fifteen minutes".

To give context of the gossamer of misery that the current NHS hospitals are, I was relieved on finding a book like NHS SOS . I was familiar with Prof Tallis' oeuvre in neurology and his Hippocratic Oaths, a sort-of prequel to this I had read and reviewed in the spring of 2012.

In nine pithy chapters, eleven authors have written a convincing expose of the current politicians who expectedly get unmasked as blatant profiteers with little interest in national health, the supposedly neutral media organisations which are hand-in-glove with the Establishment in driving up opinion of fringe approval as mainstream and driving down criticism and real denunciation from medical professionals at all stages, and finally the anaemia, impotence and complacency that has run amok amidst trade unions and royal colleges supposedly representing the medical establishment. With all the supposed buttresses of population's health and welfare corroded and corrupted by short term munificent agendas, with every passing page, the nationalised health service with its foundation tenets and lofty humanist goals seemed more and more like a modern-day anachronism that I was surprised had not dismantled sooner.

The answer for this lies probably with the steady work of doctors and nurses who besides applying themselves everyday in treating people, believe in the health service's founding mission. The politicians around them keep burning them out by dropping ridiculous, additional grids made of managers and targets, commissioning and contracting; keep finding new spinwords like "patient choice" to sneak in private companies which they have personal stakes in, and have slowly but surely turned hospitals into businesses, community health and social care networks into markets.

One of this book's foremost triumphs is its spelling out of the most outrageous clauses of the Bill: the revoking of responsibility of the Secretary of the State to provide healthcare for all and how the repeal of this basic accountability for nation's health set the first stone to the path of privatisation. The second most shocking part for me was seeing the hidden true anatomy of the Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in all their glory. These outfits, nothing but derivative versions of American insurance providing firms that come bundled with a laughable patchwork of monitoring pseudo-structure conceptualised and executed by American consultancy firms have completely supplanted the Primary Care Trusts and Strategic Health Authorities/Health Boards. The full impact of this grotesque transformation is slowly going to unravel as more private contractors who have found their feet through the doors desert or de-register patients with chronic illnesses. Already, cancer-patients are finding erstwhile-available treatments being off-limits due to drying up for funds. The familiar spin of NHS-being-a-black-hole with unending financial needs and the inevitability of privatisation in the face of "improving technology" and "increasing elderly population" will drown all debate. Profits, expectedly will supercede any obligation to provide healthcare for all as sensible models of delivery will languish either in unlearned golden years of history or unread, new white papers. If there is any barrier to this already-commenced decimation, it probably is in a mass awareness and campaign.

Of course, like all viewers of agit-documentaries and all readers of agit-non-fiction, unless you are sympathetic with the authors' train of thought, incredulity and ethos, this will pass you by without much effect. For those sharing the authors' concern, much future caution, alertness, and future campaigning will be required to douse a fire that has already been started by the ConDems. The book has certainly given me some confidence to follow the continuing narrative of this national mismanagement, and I hope to keep the bud of political conscience alive even as I maneuver through the unrelenting stress of career-building and treating patients in a rapidly transforming and despondent working environment.
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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 14 December 2014
What an astonishing and well researched book. Please read it, our NHS is at serious risk, if we continue to go down the road of the present government there is only one conclusion, we will lose it to privatisation.
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