Friday, April 15, 2011

Health Reform – Georgia style

We should count ourselves lucky that Andrew Lansley, our floundering Health Secretary, has not taken a study tour to Georgia. In the former Soviet Republic, public hospitals are being closed down or sold off at short notice, often in transactions with private buyers that are less than transparent. Resistance from trade unions is hampered by a draconian labour code, brought in by President Mikhail Saakashvili in 2006. According to the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), the code has undermined fundamental workers rights, and many trade unionists complain of intimidation by both government and employers.

In Tbilisi the leading hospital for reconstructive surgery in the Caucasus (above) has been sold to a private company and suffered a major reduction in beds and staffing levels. At the same time costs of treatment have risen while, as the ITUC also reports, government policies have led to rising levels of poverty - clearly visible in central Tbilisi (below). All an indication of what might happen in the UK, were Lansley’s star to rise again. More pictures here.

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