|Prime Minister David Cameron wants to reduce red tape.|
LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron yesterday waded into waters in which past British governments have foundered, promising fundamental changes to the country’s expensive and over-stressed public health care system.
Cameron said the reforms would cut red tape and improve treatment, but critics claim they will cause chaos and could lead to backdoor privatization of the much-criticized but widely popular National Health Service.
The British leader, whose Conservative Party heads the country’s coalition government, said he would save money and cut red tape by giving control over management to family practitioners rather than bureaucrats and allow private companies, charities, and social enterprises to bid for contracts within the public health service.
Making health care more efficient has proved an elusive goal for successive British governments. The previous Labor administration vowed to reduce waiting times for treatment, and succeeded — but at the cost, say critics, of wasteful bureaucracy.
In a speech outlining the government’s plans to overhaul public services, Cameron vows to get rid of “topdown, command-and-control bureaucracy and targets.’’ He said that with an aging population and growing demand for new medical treatments, “pretending there is some easy option of sticking with the status quo and hoping that a little bit of extra money will smooth over the challenges is a complete fiction.’’
The government will publish details of its reforms in a Health and Social Care Bill tomorrow.
The health service is Britain’s biggest employer, costs more than $158 billion a year — and is a political football, reformed and criticized by governments since it was established in 1948.