The government has announced plans to introduce marketing into the NHS alongside a pay-per-patient funding system that would see hospitals compete for patients and funds.
The plans come despite the apparent NHS 'budget crisis', which the government says makes their program of hospital closures and part-privatisations a neccessity. In recent months a series of mass demonstrations against these cuts have seen thousands take to the streets in towns accross the country. Now the government believes that there is money available for hospitals to advertise for 'customers' as part of the so-called 'choice agenda' - the marketisation of the NHS into a for-profit organisation.
Patients now get to choose between 'competing' NHS hospitals when seeking treatment, and hospitals will now be funded under a 'payment by results' scheme with rewards for the number of patients treated as opposed to quality of care. Many see the introduction of competition between NHS hospitals as a precursor to full-scale privatisation - much NHS treatment is already outsourced to private companies. The chief executive of one such company, Tom Mann of Capio Healthcare UK commented that advertising "is a natural part of developing a competitive marketplace." Unions and the British Medical Association have condemened all plans for advertising in the NHS as a waste of money at a time when budget defecits are being used to justify widespread cuts.