Today, I have called on the Health Secretary to overturn unfair restrictions on cataract, hip and knee operations pending an urgent review into rationing in the NHS.
The new leader of the British Medical Association has warned that increasing rationing of treatment is putting patients at risk and undermining the founding values of the NHS.
Labour's NHS Check survey in June of all PCTs in England presented the Government with new evidence of 125 separate treatments restricted or decommissioned altogether by at least one PCT in the two years since the General Election. Yet Ministers continue to issue repeated denials that any rationing by cost is happening in the NHS.
I have written to Andrew Lansley to ask if he continues to stand by these statements in the wake of Dr Mark Porter's comments. He will call for:
1.An urgent independent review of the extent of rationing in the NHS and the issuing of clear national guidelines to Primary Care Trusts and incoming Clinical Commissioning Groups.
2.The immediate reversal of rationing decisions that leave patients in severe pain, restrict mobility or limit the ability to live independently, pending the outcome of the review.
The Government's claim that there is no evidence of rationing by cost in the NHS is no longer tenable. It is an insult to patients who have been unfairly denied cataract, knee or hip operations. Just as Labour predicted, the N in NHS is now under sustained attack. A postcode lottery is running riot with 125 separate treatments restricted.
Ministers must overturn these arbitrary decisions and bring fairness back to the NHS. Their continued complacency is leaving patients in an impossible position, facing the agonising choice of paying to go private or going without.