Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Britain: Cameron proposes sweeping changes in national health care

LONDON — Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday proposed a radical reorganization of England’s health care system, introducing legislation that would hand responsibility for most of the country’s health budget to its 42,000 general practitioners and, his political opponents say, open the door to private competition that could threaten the foundations of socialized care.

Mr. Cameron argues that the bill, said to be the biggest overhaul of the National Health Service since it was founded in 1948, is essential to increase efficiency and allow doctors, patients and localities more control of how the health budget is spent.

Yet the prime minister, who promised during last year’s election campaign that he had no radical plans to change the health service, faces formidable opposition from a wide array of critics. These include the British Medical Association, members of Mr. Cameron’s own Conservative Party, patient advocates, health care specialists, health workers’ unions and even many of the primary care doctors who are supposed to benefit under the proposals.
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