Clayhall ME sufferer fears ‘two tier system’ if GPs control budgets

An ME sufferer fears radical changes which will give GPs control of primary care trust (PCT) budgets will create a “two tier system” which could shut out people with long-term illnesses.

Martin Arber, 71, of Cheriton Avenue, Clayhall, was diagnosed with ME – a condition defined by persistent fatigue – 27 years ago.

The grandfather of two has been keeping close tabs on government proposals to shake-up the health service, which will see the abolition of PCTs by 2013.

As of this month, GP consortia in Redbridge have control of money usually placed into the hands of NHS Redbridge, though the health body will guide them as they get to grips with their new responsibility of spending about �400million a year.

All of the borough’s 171 GPs across 49 practices are compelled to be a part of the consortia, with training given to them.

But concerns the changes will spark a bidding war where private hospitals almost exclusively care for patients with short-term ailments have been voiced.

Mr Arber, who is vice president of the charity Action for ME, told the Recorder: “Some people think this bill will lead to total privatisation of the NHS. I don’t really believe that.

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“But I do think it will lead to a two tier NHS.”

He added: “If someone needs a hip or knee replacement, it will go out to tender and private companies will be allowed to bid against the NHS.

“Private health care commissioners don’t like long-term, chronic illnesses.

“I think people need to know about these changes because they will have a very substantial impact.”

Mr Arber was a social worker in Newham and then a senior lecturer in social work before having to take retirement after being diagnosed with ME in 1987.

The government say the proposed changes, which are still working their way through Parliament, will improve the delivery of health services and will strengthen the NHS.

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