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Back in 2011 a sporting injury took me to my local minor injuries unit, who then referred me on to the hospital physiotherapy services. Within a week I'd been assessed as having flat feet and was referred onto orthotics, who, in less than a fortnight presented me with some rather snazzy, bespoke insoles. All on the NHS, provided directly by NHS services.
Two years later, these insoles were looking a little tired so I went to my GP to be referred back to orthotics . However, because I'd gone via primary care, I was told they had to, by contract, send me to a private provider. My replacement insoles arrived 6 weeks later, didn't fit any of the shoes they were moulded and wore out within 2 weeks.
Unimpressed, I went back to my GP, but I was told that there was nothing she could do about it, she was bound by contractual obligations.
I threw out the new insoles, I'm still wearing my 3 year old NHS insoles because they're built like a tank.
Amongst this, I'm left wondering what happened to patient choice. The NHS would be my preferred provider, but I have no way of accessing the service I want to use. My choice has been trumped by the interests of competition.
I'm in the unfortunate and slightly masochistic situation whereby I'm eagerly awaiting my next sporting injury so I can present directly to secondary care, jump through the necessary hoops and regain access to to NHS orthotic services.
Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act acts to fragment services and denies patients their right to health care choices. The only interests it serves are those of the Bullingdon club's friends in healthcare conglomerates. Multiple providers will only cause patients to have jump through more hoops to access the care they need.
Now, my flat feet are a relatively minor problem compared to other services under threat. We as the BMA must support the NHS as the preferred provider, as I believe it offers the best care to patients.
To this end I recommend all members of the Representative Body to look out for the relevant motions at ARM and for everyone to sign the "Time to repeal the Health and Social Care Act 2012" petition at http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/64407