This blog has posted before about the hidden (and not so hidden) dangers of Cameron's push for public service staff to form autonomous mutuals.
As mutuals they would run the risk of becoming less accountable to service users, less efficient and more open to corruption. To add to this is a bigger risk: in the free market vision that the Tory Party has as its endgame, they would almost certainly lose the battle for contracts to large private companies. Mutualisation can therefore be seen as a staging post - more acceptable to a sceptical public - for the real aim of the privatisation of public services. The hope, from the political right, is that taking smaller steps will make the logical next step to an open free market of for-profit providers of health, education and other exiting services more palatable.
Well, Andrew Lansely - currently enjoying the kind of reaction that other Government ministers can expect as this 'Big Society' project expands into other parts of public services - can add dentists to the list of people whose view of mutualisation is not far removed from the argument posted above.
The British Medical Association, meanwhile, puts it well:
‘It is hard to see how the NHS can operate effectively if lots of bits of it are in private hands – even if they are those of former employees....New mutuals could quickly find themselves in conflict with each other and at risk of being out-competed by private healthcare giants. The consequence could be financial and operational chaos.'