NHS news review

There is a seperate article addressing UK Uncut’s ‘Emergency Operation’.

NHS news is concerned with various cuts to services, Tory privateer has an undeclared interest and speculation whether Lansley’s on his way.

On a totally different topic: Take a look at these

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Mr Cameron must rein back on NHS reform | Observer editorial | Comment is free | The Observer

There were two good reasons why David Cameron stood for election pledging “no more top-down reorganisations” of the NHS. First, voters felt no pressing need for a healthcare revolution and, second, they did not trust the Conservatives to enact one.

It was wise of Mr Cameron to promise timidity in health reform. To have then turned the issue into a vicious political battleground, within a year of becoming prime minister, represents a serious political failure. It is a war he should never have started and one that he is losing.

Is anybody winning? Not really. The Liberal Democrats have at least belatedly discovered some gumption in asserting their blocking power as the guarantors of Mr Cameron’s parliamentary majority. They are threatening to withhold support for the plans set out by health secretary, Andrew Lansley, unless drastic changes are made. Mr Lansley envisaged a health system governed by vigorous competition between different providers, with the private sector encouraged to take over services traditionally run by the state. The Lib Dems want market forces more firmly restrained.

Lansley’s ally on NHS reform faces conflict of interest questions | Politics | The Observer

The Tory MP leading a backbench fightback to save Andrew Lansley’s health reforms is at the centre of controversy over his business links to firms that could benefit from wider private-sector involvement in the NHS.

Nick de Bois, MP for Enfield North, reignited tensions within the coalition government when he called on fellow Conservatives to prevent the Lansley plans from being watered down by Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats.

However, De Bois was thrown on to the defensive when a senior Labour MP, Grahame Morris, wrote to the Speaker, John Bercow, protesting that his Tory colleague had repeatedly failed to declare his private interests during the passage of the Lansley bill.

In an email to colleagues, De Bois, who was on the committee that scrutinised the health and social care bill, spelled out to fellow Tories a series of “red lines” that he said must not be crossed if the essence of the Lansley plan was to be retained. These included the idea that “any qualified provider” from the private sector should be able to supply services in the NHS – a key plank of the health secretary’s blueprint.

Transform the banks and save the NHS, say protesters | Ekklesia

NHS Direct Action and UK Uncut activists dressed in medical scrubs have staged a protest outside HSBC’s AGM over the bank’s NHS profiteering.

The demonstration took place on the morning of Friday 27 May 2011, as part of a series of nonviolent direct action initiatives to highlight the gap between rhetoric and reality in the government’s policies – and the way the wealthy are being ‘rescued’ from national debt at the expense of the poor and ordinary people.

A recent BBC investigation found that HSBC used a tax loophole to divert millions of pounds of NHS money into a Guernsey ‘tax haven’, says UK Uncut.

In 2010, a company set up by HSBC made more than £38 million from its 33 PFI hospital-building schemes and paid £100,000 in UK tax – less than half of one per cent of the profits.

Describing such practices as “scandalous”, former Oxford MP Dr Evan Harris has called for new rules to stop NHS money being sent to tax havens.

Stuart Gulliver, the new chief executive of HSBC, recently received a bonus of £9 million – which could pay for the annual salary of over 400 nurses, say campaigners.

BBC News – Labour: ‘Confusion’ on NHS reforms

John Healey claimed it was “hard to tell” the position of the government on NHS reforms. He said “We’ve had Nick Clegg saying one thing, Andrew Lansley saying another and David Cameron saying another”.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show the shadow health secretary added that from Labour’s point of view the NHS could not “stand still”.

New Statesman – UK Uncuts hosts 40 direct actions in protest at NHS reforms

The protest group, UK Uncut, yesterday hosted 40 direct actions across the country – the most significant number the group has made since many of its members were arrested outside Fortnum and Mason on the March 26th March for the Alternative. Yesterday’s actions were subtitled the “Emergency Operation” on the group’s website and were directed against the Coalition’s wavering reforms of the NHS headed by Andrew Lansley.

One of the first actions to be held left Soho Square at 11am Saturday morning and I accompanied the group from its meeting point to the target of protest in Camden Town.

The UK Uncut members – dressed as medical workers, bankers and members of the judiciary – were trailed by several police, in riot vans and on foot, from their meeting point through the London Underground and to the intended target of a Natwest bank branch in Camden Town.

No 10 denies Lansley is to resign over NHS reforms – UK Politics, UK – The Independent

David Cameron was forced to issue a vote of confidence in his Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, yesterday as ministers search for an NHS reform blueprint acceptable to both parts of the Coalition.

There has been growing speculation over Mr Lansley’s future since his plans to overhaul the NHS were dramatically halted by Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg in the face of a rebellion from health professionals.

The Health Secretary, who has spent years drawing up proposals to restructure the service, has made it clear he would quit the Cabinet rather than move to another post.

There were also reports yesterday that the Prime Minister would be prepared to accept his resignation on the grounds that a new face would be needed to make the case for the heavily modified plans.

A Downing Street spokeswoman dismissed as “nonsense” suggestions that he could be sacrificed, adding: “Andrew Lansley is doing an excellent job as Health Secretary.”

BBC News – 800,000 ‘not given help with social care’

Hundreds of thousands of older people in England who need social care are not getting any support from the state or private sector, campaigners say.

Age UK says 800,000 people are excluded from the system – and the figure is set to top one million within four years.

It said budgets had hardly risen in recent years even before the squeeze, despite the ageing population.

The charity renewed its call for an overhaul of the system, something ministers are looking at.
Funding rise

Social care in England is means-tested, which means those with savings of over £23,250 are excluded.

But councils have also been making it more difficult for those who do meet the income threshold to get care, by tightening the eligibility criteria.

Campaigners fear ward closure will reduce hospital to clinic – Local stories – Yorkshire Post

CAMPaIGNERS fighting plans to axe a hospital ward for the elderly in Yorkshire have urged health chiefs to rethink their proposals.

They have handed over a letter of protest to the Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust in response to news that an elderly care ward at Wharfedale Hospital, Otley, may be axed.

The letter, from the Support Wharfedale Hospital Campaign, urges the trust to ensure that the ward, which campaigners says is the only ward caring for older people, is run by the NHS and continues to serve local people, ideally offering care for elderly patients.

It is facing an uncertain future as Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust tries to save £60m this year.

Andrew Lansley fights to save himself from the sack – mirror.co.uk

UNDER-fire Andrew Lansley slammed the Lib Dems yesterday as he fought for his political life.

The Health Secretary hit out over the Government’s hated NHS reforms as No 10 was forced to issue a statement denying that he was about to be sacked.

The desperate move by Downing Street came amid reports that David Cameron was willing to sacrifice Mr Lansley if it meant keeping the Coalition together.

Rumours that the Health Secretary’s job is on the line were fuelled after Mr Cameron was reportedly overheard saying the reforms “were nothing to do with him now”.

And Foreign Secretary William Hague is alleged to have told the PM and Chancellor George Osborne that the controversial shake-up was a “reform too far”.

Union warning after NHS challenged to find £64.5m of savings (From This Is Local London)

Unions have warned health care could suffer as the NHS launches another “streamlining” review to find £64.5m savings in south-west London.

NHS South West London, formed by the cluster of five primary care trusts, including Kingston, will again bring doctors, nurses and other clinicians together to consider where the axe will fall.

Michael Walker, Unison nursing officer, said the cuts were significant and would represent a drastic reduction in NHS services with an impact on waiting times.

Geoff Martin, of London Health Emergency, said no area would be immune from the “financial assault”.

He said: “The screw will be turned on everything from acute hospitals to mental health with dire consequences for quality of care.”

Fewer nurses being trained in West Midlands « Express & Star

The number of nurses being trained in the West Midlands will be slashed by almost a fifth – sparking fears over standards.

Health bosses have decided to cut 457 student nursing places at universities in the region, a drop of 17.5 per cent from September.

This is ahead of a planned reduction in professional staff, including nurses and doctors of around seven per cent by 2014.

Hospital beds go in NHS efficiency drive, memo reveals – Telegraph

England’s biggest hospital trusts are cutting up to 10 per cent of their beds as NHS managers try to meet tough efficiency targets.

Some are reducing bed numbers by more than 100, while also cutting headcounts to reduce their pay bills.

The Royal College of Nursing has claimed the moves risk affecting the quality of care – a claim rejected by the hospitals.

The trusts hope to make “efficiency savings” of 4.7 to 7.8 per cent of their budgets, The Daily Telegraph has found.


27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.


Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review – UK Uncut’s Emergency Operation

This NHS news review posting is concerned with campaigning group UK Uncut’s ‘Emergency Operation’ day of campaigning on Saturday. UK Uncut occupied banks drawing attention to the fact that bankers enjoy huge government funding while the NHS is being starved of funding and abolished. This is the first major campaign by UK Uncut since the mass arrests of UK Uncut activists at Fortnum & Mason on 26 March.

New statesman reports that that there were 40 UK Uncut actions. There are reports of arrests at Manchester and Edinburgh, Scotland. There are reports of undercover police officers attending the actions.

In an unusual show of support UK Uncut events were supported by Unite and the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) unions who encouraged their members to participate. PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said at the unions annual conference on 18 May “For years our union has been at the forefront of the tax justice campaign, and we are proud to support UK Uncut that has popularised our message that the real fraudsters and the real scroungers are to be found in the boardrooms not in the jobcentres.”

Rachael Maskell, Unite’s national officer for the health sector, welcomes UK Uncut’s action: “The greed of a few and the failure to regulate brought our banking system and the economy to their knees but government expects the ordinary people of this country to pick up the tab.

“We must not allow the profit-first value to destroy our NHS.

“For over sixty years, this country has upheld the principles of quality, universal care where the patient’s needs comes before private greed every time. We are now at the most worrying juncture in the NHS’ history with the government is poised to let market values rip through the service. As Bevan said, the NHS will survive as long as there are people to fight for it. Now is the moment to fight.”

UK Uncut’s Call to Action:

“The NHS will last as long as there are folk left to fight for it.”
– Nye Bevan, founder of the NHS

“Andrew Lansley. Greedy Andrew Lansley. Tosser.”
– MC NxtGen

This is an emergency. The welfare state is in peril. Under the guise of ‘efficiency’ and ‘reform’, this government is plotting to cut the NHS and sell off what’s left. Andrew Lansley has claimed the government is in a ‘listening exercise’ about the proposed NHS ‘reforms’. But despite widespread outcry from doctors, nurses and the public the government isn’t listening to anyone apart from private healthcare lobbyists.

Let’s make Lansley listen. We want to keep our healthy NHS and fix our broken banking system. Whilst the NHS is being dismantled, the banks that caused this crisis in the first place have been left untouched. Reckless gambling, obscene bonuses and a global financial crisis are symptoms of a disease that requires a drastic intervention.

The banks are due a check-up. On Saturday May 28th, join UK Uncut’s Emergency Operation and transform your local high street bank into a hospital. Tell the government to leave our NHS alone; it’s the banks that are sick.

Turn HSBC into a hospital, fill Natwest with nurses, get bandaged in Barclays and operate in RBS. As usual, it’s up to you to organise an action in your area – so talk to your friends, your local union branch and anti-cuts group and then list an action on our website. All the resources you’ll need will be on our website, including a flyer to tell the public about the NHS emergency. Get organised, get creative and let’s make Lansley listen: leave our NHS alone and make the banks pay.

See you on the high streets.

On a totally different topic: Take a look at these

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.


Anti-cuts groups descend on banks in NHS protest | UK news | guardian.co.uk

Protesters have been holding demonstrations outside high street banks around the UK and have succeeded in occupying a number of branches in the biggest direct action to date against proposed changes to the NHS.

The national protest, designed to draw attention to the banks’ role in creating the deficit, is being spearheaded by the anti-austerity campaigning group UK Uncut, which has been were joined by trade unionists and others.

Activists dressed in doctors’ coats and armed with fake blood had planned to enter branches and set up mock hospitals and “operating theatres”. Instead they mostly staged their protests on the streets outside when branches were closed or police kept them out.

After assembling shortly before midday in London, close to 100 protesters staged actions outside three banks in Camden and held a mock trial of the health secretary, Andrew Lansley. Other groups were able to enter a Natwest bank in Brixton and a branch of RBS in Islington and stage protests inside.

“The NHS did not cause the financial crisis – the banks did and are continuing to make billions in profits. And yet it is the NHS which is being cut,” said Candy Udwin of the Camden Keep Our NHS Public campaign, which took part in north London.

“Here in Camden there are hundreds of jobs under threat and that is why protests like this are being strongly supported.”

New Statesman – UK Uncuts hosts 40 direct actions in protest at NHS reforms

The protest group, UK Uncut, yesterday hosted 40 direct actions across the country – the most significant number the group has made since many of its members were arrested outside Fortnum and Mason on the March 26th March for the Alternative. Yesterday’s actions were subtitled the “Emergency Operation” on the group’s website and were directed against the Coalition’s wavering reforms of the NHS headed by Andrew Lansley.

One of the first actions to be held left Soho Square at 11am Saturday morning and I accompanied the group from its meeting point to the target of protest in Camden Town.

The UK Uncut members – dressed as medical workers, bankers and members of the judiciary – were trailed by several police, in riot vans and on foot, from their meeting point through the London Underground and to the intended target of a Natwest bank branch in Camden Town.

Upon arrival, unable to gain access to the bank due to a large police presence blocking the entrance doorway, the protesters acted out set pieces, chanted and handed out leaflets to passers-by on the pavement outside several bank branches in the Camden area for several hours in the central Camden area. The protest eventually culminated in a mock trial of Andrew Lansley.

BBC News – Arrests after UK Uncut protest in Manchester Santander

Activists protesting against proposed changes to the NHS were arrested after briefly occupying a bank in Manchester.

Nine people were held on suspicion of breach of the peace after campaigners entered the city centre Santander.

Campaign group UK Uncut was staging a series of protests calling for the banks, rather than cuts to public services, to pay for the deficit.

The government said “every penny” saved by NHS efficiencies would be spent on front-line services for patients.

Activists targeted banks to highlight what they described as the injustice of “making people, not the broken banking system, pay for the economic crisis”.

Police defend corporate criminals: arrests at Edinburgh Uncut action | Indymedia Scotland

Denouncing tax dodging by big companies and opposing cuts in public services, people took action at Boots, Vodaphone and BHS shops in Edinburgh on Saturday 28 May. Imaginative street theatre saw tax avoiding bosses detained by the Big Society Revenue and Customs Inspectors. But police acted to defend the tax-dodging criminals against Edinburgh Uncut’s protests, arresting, detaining and charging two women.

After several hours of peaceful protest at three city centre shops, police suddenly grabbed two women at British Home Stores on Princes Street. One woman fell to the ground. Police twisted her arms behind her back and handcuffed her, causing her pain and distress. The prisoners were taken to St Leonards and people quickly descended on the police station in solidarity, numbers later swelling as around 40-50 people arrived from the Reclaim the Night march. The women were released after around 5 hours in custody. Both were charged with Breach of the Peace and the woman who was hurt by the police was also charged with “Resisting Arrest”.

UK Indymedia – Plain clothes FIT at #ukuncut protests. Cops use ‘Breach of the Peace’ strategy

The police should only arrest for breach of the peace when they reasonable believe there is an imminent risk of violence. This seems unlikely to have been the case in Manchester. Certainly when Cardiff occupiers of Topshop were threatened with arrest to prevent a BOP they were doing nothing more violent than sitting on the shop floor. The officer in charge didnt seem comfortable with it either. When a legal observer gave protesters a quick briefing on the law of BOP she threw her hands in the air, and was later reported to have moaned that she “couldn’t do anything because of those bloody legal observers..’

As well as using dodgy reasons to try and arrest people, the police were also up to their old intelligence gathering tricks. While things were low key, and there was a general absence of obvious FIT cops and cameras, there were instances of systematic data gathering. Cardiff occupiers, for example, were photographed individually by uniformed and plain clothes cops using their Blackberry’s. One of them happily explained that the pictures were for the ‘intelligence log’.

There was no doubt this time about the identity of the plain clothes cops because strangely, they came and introduced themselves, giving both name and number. Their details are shown above. It’s not at all clear why they were being so candid. Perhaps they were being genuinely friendly and open. Or perhaps they identified themselves as police officers in order to get round the restrictive authorisations needed for covert surveillance. Anyway, we are happy to be able to put them on the blog.

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Continue ReadingNHS news review – UK Uncut’s Emergency Operation

Take a look at these

The Tardis by Disent http://disent.deviantart.com/art/The-Tardis-30529477

The previous On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing blog is due for deletion on 31st May. Mirror before then if you’re interested.

Here are some articles from December 2008 which were reposted after the blog was mysteriously deleted in early December 2008. I’ve not abandoned this line of research and understand far more about it now. Comments are moderated to stop spam but you’re welcome to disagree.

Esoteric Knowledge #3 Jean Charles de Menezes

Dr. Who?

Richmal Marie Oates-Whiteheadt

Blair’s government and Metropolitan Police policy dictated by the Jerusalem Post

Danger of dust explosions on the London Underground

[17/9/12 Links edited from pointing at the previous On a quiet day I can hear her breathing blog.]


Continue ReadingTake a look at these

NHS news review

NHS news is dominated by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s speech yesterday. The corporate press response is very easy on Clegg (compared to mine). It’s not a showdown as suggested by corporate media – Clegg is defending the main parts of the abolition of the NHS Bill including abolishing the responsibility on the Health Secretary to provide a comprehensive health service. Clegg suggests further delays in the passage of the Bill to destroy the NHS. There is an absence of opposition to GP commissioning consortia as required by instruction from his Spring Conference.

There are suggestions of a Conservative counter-attack to defend the attack on the NHS. The Tories are not really in any position to make such demands.

There are various submissions to the government’s ‘listening exercise’ which ends soon. 38Degrees assist in making your contribution.

I was expecting a speech by Shadow Health Secretary John Healey yesterday. Must have been mistaken.

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Newswire Article: Health Bill needs major changes – BMA comment on Deputy Prime Minister’s Speech 26/05/2011

Commenting on the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech on NHS reforms in England, Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, said:

“We agree that a dog-eat-dog market would be damaging to the NHS. Unfortunately, unless the current Bill is withdrawn or undergoes major amendments, competition will not only be encouraged, but enforced by law. The Deputy Prime Minister talked about promoting the needs of patients through competition as well as collaboration, but these two aims can be contradictory. We welcome the indication that the Health Secretary will retain responsibility for ensuring a comprehensive health service for everyone. In a system driven by competition, many services patients rely on could be at risk. We welcome the signs that the government recognises these concerns, but real evidence of their commitment to listen will not come until we learn more about their plans for the Bill.

“It is reassuring that the Deputy Prime Minister recognises the problems created by arbitrary deadlines for change. We hope this means that the deadline for hospital trusts to achieve foundation status will be relaxed, as the current rigid timetable could compromise patient safety. We are equally concerned about the pace of change for the winding down of primary care trusts. There has been no ‘pause’ on the ground, where implementation of the proposals is proceeding at great speed.”

Newswire Article: BMA calls for major amendments to Health Bill 26/05/2011

The Health and Social Care Bill should be withdrawn or at least undergo major changes, the BMA says today (Thursday 26 May, 2011), as it warns that the latest feedback from its members on the reforms to the English NHS indicates very high levels of concern.

In its formal submission to the NHS Future Forum, the body leading the government’s listening exercise on the reforms, the BMA says the legislation represents “an enormous risk” during a time of huge financial pressure for the NHS. It sets out its own recommendations for changes to encourage the development of more integrated services, arguing that greater collaboration would be more likely to improve quality and efficiency than the current proposals to increase and enforce competition.

It says disquiet among NHS staff is being exacerbated because change is already being implemented despite the announcement of a ‘pause’. Over 80 per cent of just under 1,000 BMA members who completed a feedback form on the BMA website in May said their attitude to the reforms was either mostly or very unwelcoming.* When asked which area of the reforms was potentially the most damaging, just over half identified the powers to be given to NHS economic regulator Monitor to promote competition.

The BMA submission to the Future Forum calls for “a more mature form of commissioning”, based on clinical networks of specialists and primary care professionals working together across traditional boundaries, alongside commissioning consortia. The BMA is also today publishing new guidance putting forward examples of possible models for the governance of consortia and advising that, as a minimum, specialists should be involved in the design of patient pathways.

UNISON Press | Press Releases Front Page

Commenting on a speech on NHS Reforms, made by Nick Clegg at University College London Hospital today, UNISON’s head of health, Christina McAnea, said:

“Nick Clegg’s attempt to reassure people that any changes to the NHS will be in the best interests of patients, has not worked. A growing number of professionals are calling for the Health and Social Care Bill to be ditched and that, we believe, is the best option.

“He is completely naïve to think that more competition won’t lead to a greater role for private companies. Companies who are chomping at the bit to start raking in cash from the health service. Once they get their teeth into the NHS they will destroy it.

“During this so-called listening exercise the overwhelming majority of patients and staff have put forward their fears. The Government must listen to them, rather than the hand-picked few, who are set to benefit from reforms.

“If the Bill goes back to Committee stage as a result of significant changes, Parliament will have a chance to scrutinise it in much more detail. In that case, reform plans already being pushed through should be stopped, as there is clearly no legislative mandate and none likely any time soon.

“We will continue campaigning against the privatisation of our NHS and this destructive Bill.”

NHS reform bill sent back to MPs for examination | Society | guardian.co.uk

The government’s troubled NHS reforms will be delayed by at least six months after Nick Clegg announced that the health and social care bill is to be sent back to MPs for detailed examination.

In a speech to patients and medical health professionals at University College London hospital, Clegg said it would be wrong to “bounce” the bill through parliament.

The deputy prime minister, who buried Andrew Lansley’s 2013 target for the changes by rejecting “arbitrary deadlines”, said a revised version of the bill would be sent back to MPs to examine at committee stage. Aides suggested Clegg’s announcement would delay the bill by a few months because it had already completed that stage.

Leaked email shows Tory MPs determined to fight Nick Clegg | Politics | guardian.co.uk

Last week I blogged that the Tories are so angry with Nick Clegg for hijacking the debate on NHS reforms that they are referring to the Liberal Democrats as “yellow bastards”.

Now that anger is being translated into action. A thoughtful Tory backbencher, who was involved in the committee stage of the health and social care bill, has decided to set down his thoughts in writing.

Nick de Bois, the MP for Enfield North, sent an email to colleagues this morning while Clegg was speaking at University College London Hospital.

The email, a copy of which has been leaked to me, has a clear message: it is time for the Tories to recapture the debate by insisting that core “red lines” must not be crossed. Some of these have been crossed by Clegg. This guarantees a battle when the health and social care bill returns to the commons this summer.

BBC News – Health charities say patients need a stronger voice

A group of 40 charities says the government’s plans for health changes in England must be revised to give a voice to the most vulnerable patients.

They say the current proposals fail to ensure that patients will be properly consulted in the planning of services.

The charities have issued a statement setting out six “much-needed” changes.

The coalition government says there will be substantive changes, and describes feedback from organisations such as these as “invaluable”.

This statement has a long and impressive list of signatories, including the Alzheimer’s Society, the Patient’s Association and the National Autistic Society.

The charities set out a series of demands designed to ensure that the public, patients and carers have a say – especially those least able to speak up for themselves.

The NHS ‘reform’ bill should be scrapped, Unite says in submission to ‘listening exercise’

The ‘seriously flawed’ NHS ‘reform’ bill with its privatisation agenda should be scrapped, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Thursday 26 May 2011).

Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, outlined 11 key points in its submission to the government’s ‘listening exercise’ as to why the Health and Social Care bill should be withdrawn.

Unite is opposed to the bill as it heralds ‘commercial involvement on a scale’ not seen before, risking the concept of a universal, free health care service, which has been the central ethos of the NHS since its formation in 1948.

Unite is calling for a Royal Commission to be set-up to investigate the long-term demands on the NHS.

In its submission Unite said it believes that ”the heart of the government’s proposals will transform and privatise the NHS so that services are geared towards fulfilling financial and business contractual relationships and outcomes, rather than meeting health needs.

RCN responds to ‘listening’ exercise – RCN

The Royal College of Nursing has called for ‘decisive action through significant amendments’ in its formal response to the NHS Future Forum – which is running the Health and Social Care Bill ‘listening’ exercise.

Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said the bill requires more than ‘minor and superficial’ changes to make the Government’s vision for the NHS acceptable to members.

38 Degrees | Blog | NHS listening exercise: Submission Resources

There are just four days left of Andrew Lansley’s NHS listening exercise. That means we have 4 days left to flood it with our comments, concerns, and objections.

We can make sure that when the figures are released in a couple of weeks, the headlines are clear: the bulk of the submissions to Lansley’s listening exercise opposed his plans.

It’s easy and fast to make a personal submission to the listening exercise using the 38 Degrees website. It only takes a couple of minutes, and there are hints and suggestions for what to include.

You can send a message to the “listening exercise” right now here? It will take only a couple of minutes. You can be as brief or detailed as you like, and there are links below to useful facts & figures that you can include in your message.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

Nick Clegg lies about the NHS

Image of David 'Pinoccio' Cameron and Nick Clegg. Image is originally from the UK's Mirror newspaper. Looks like Bliar doesn't he? Cameron seems to be apingning/copying Bliar's public image ~ speeches aligning himslf with Bliar ... and of course ... who Bliar aligned with ...Nick Clegg has made a deceitful and evasive speech on the NHS. Deceitful since he suggests that all will be well and hiding the fact that the Destroy the NHS bill is intended to reduce the scope of the NHS. Evasive by avoiding any mention of privatisation or the role of private providers. It’s a feel-good speech intended to reassure people that everything is OK, that there is no need to worry, that he, Cameron and Lansley can be trusted to look after the NHS. The lying, evil sods.

We know from the experience of tuition fees and V.A.T. that Nick Clegg is a shameless liar. We know that he lies to decieve people. We know that he’s a slippery shit in the tradition of UK politicians.

Some of the lies and evasions I pulled from his speech today:

“When Beveridge first proposed a nationalised health service in 1942, he didn’t prescribe exactly how it should work.


He called for a comprehensive service to ensure every citizen can get “whatever medical treatment he requires in whatever form he requires it.”

Care, free at the point of use, based on need and not ability to pay.

No government worth its salt – certainly, no government of which I am a part – will ever jeopardise that.”

That’s a lie. The current coalition government – of which Clegg is a part – is intending to do away with a comprehensive health service free at the point of use.

“The comfort of knowing that the NHS will always be there for you.

If you’re in an accident, if you get ill, if your family need treatment.

And it will always be free. No bills, no credit cards, no worries about money when you’re worrying about your health.

That’s why I have been absolutely clear: there will be no privatisation of the NHS.”

There are a few lies here.

Firstly, GP consortia will commission services. They decide which services will be available. With cuts to spending they will cut the range of services available. There will also be some expensively ill people that will likely not have a GP. This means that the NHS will not “always be there for you”.

Secondly, perhaps not an outright lie but certainly intended to mislead and give a fase impression: “it will always be free …”. No it won’t always be free. If you need a treatment that is not provided by your local GP commissioning group, you will have to pay or go without.

Thirdly, again perhaps not an oughtright lie:“there will be no privatisation of the NHS”. There will be private provision of services not offered by a reduced NHS. There will be private providers within the NHS. It will not be wholly privatised but there will be hugely increased involvement of private providers.

Clegg continues by saying “The NHS has always benefited from a mix of providers, from the private sector, charities and social enterprises, and that should continue.”

Notice what’s missing? The public sector. Is he saying that the public sector should not continue to play a role in the NHS?

Charities and social enterprises are private providers in a sense. They certainly are not public sector.

“People want choice: over their GP, where to give birth, which hospital to use.

But providing that choice isn’t the same as allowing private companies to cherry-pick NHS services.

It’s not the same as turning this treasured public service into a competition-driven, dog-eat-dog market where the NHS is flogged off to the highest bidder.”

Choice. People don’t really want choice. They want a good service that doesn’t unduly inconvenience them e.g. having to travel to a distant hospital.

Clegg is deliberately misconstruing the argument, putting up a straw-man by saying that the NHS will not be sold off to the highest bidder. It’s about providing a restricted health service where you will have to pay – or go without – services that are not provided.

[27/5/11 edit: It’s also the first stage in the process of privatisation and transition to a private insurance-based health service on the US model.]

“I’ve heard people suggest that our reforms could lead to politicians washing their hands of our health services, because of the way the Bill is phrased.

So we need to be clearer – the Secretary of State will continue to be accountable for your health services.

This is your NHS; funded by your taxes and you have a right to know there is someone at the very top, answerable to you. With a public duty to ensure a comprehensive health service, accessible to all.”

Clegg is employing the worn-out argument that they have failed to properly explain the proposed changes. The truth is that the more people understand, the more they object.

He’s defending the Health Secretary no longer being responsible for providing the health service, arguing against what Colin Leys said ‘The bill removes the secretary of state’s responsibility to provide a national health service and doesn’t assign it to anyone else. She or he would only be charged with “promoting” it.’

Clegg suggests that this is merely phrasing when it is crucial. If it is only a matter of phrasing, then we’ll have the phrasing that the Health Secretary will provide a health service.

“opening up”

Clegg is defending the Bill to abolish the NHS contrary to the instruction of his Spring Conference. He needs to be dumped asap.

Continue ReadingNick Clegg lies about the NHS

NHS news review

NHS news is dominated by the British Medical Association (BMA) representing doctors calling for the Bill to destroy the NHS to be abandoned entirely. Unite health worker members believe that the NHS is going to be privatised for the benefit of private companies. Nick Clegg and Labour’s John Healey are to make speeches on the NHS today,

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

NHS ‘Reforms’ In The UK Receive Massive Thumbs Down From Unite Members, Survey Reveals

Nearly 90 per cent of Unite health sector members have ‘no confidence’ in the coalition’s handling of the NHS ‘reforms’, a new survey has revealed.

The massive vote of ‘no confidence’ from Unite – which has 100,000 members in the health service – comes as the coalition’s ‘listening exercise’ on the Health and Social Care Bill draws to a close.

The snapshot survey of specified professional groups represented by Unite also revealed that two-thirds said that they had seen the treatment and care of patients/service users reduced or rationed in the last six months.

Unite Head of Health, Rachael Maskell said: ‘Those working in the NHS have no confidence that the universal service that they have dedicated their working lives to is safe in Tory hands – they fear that it is going to be privatised and broken up for the benefit of profiteering private healthcare companies. No matter how it is dressed up.’

Nick Clegg prepares to announce diagnosis of faults in NHS bill | Society | The Guardian

Nick Clegg will seek to maximise the Liberal Democrats’ influence over the imminent changes to the government’s NHS plans with a major speech on Thursday setting out his party’s demands.

The deputy prime minister will outline the substantial revisions he expects to see made to the health and social care bill to ensure that his MPs feel able to support it when it returns to parliament.

He will also make clear why the NHS needs reform. Party sources say it will echo a keynote speech last week by David Cameron and endorse the prime minister’s view that, although some of health secretary Andrew Lansley’s proposals will be rethought, the service in England will still be expected to embrace far-reaching changes so it can cope with growing financial and clinical pressures.

John Healey, shadow health secretary, will accuse Cameron of refusing to amend the bill enough to ensure that it does not harm healthcare. “David Cameron is a PR man looking for a PR answer.

Health Bill must be withdrawn, BMA demands | GPonline.com

In its response to the government’s listening exercise, the BMA said it is vital for the future of the NHS that the Bill is withdrawn, or ‘changed significantly’.

The BMA demanded a number of changes to the proposals, including putting an ‘explicit duty’ on commissioning consortia to involve doctors in secondary care, public health and academia.

It said: ‘The existing duty in the Bill on commissioning consortia to “obtain appropriate advice” is insufficient to ensure that the best clinical practice is enshrined in commissioning.

‘Clear guidance should be developed on models for how this can be achieved in practice, such as by developing clinical networks alongside the strategic and decision-making functions of commissioners.’

The BMA also called for economic regulator Monitor’s primary role to be amended to protecting and promoting high quality, integrated healthcare services, not promoting competition.

BBC News – Health bill may have to be withdrawn – doctors

The government’s health plans for the NHS in England need changing so much that the entire bill may need to be withdrawn, doctors say.

The British Medical Association called for a series of changes as part of its submission to the listening exercise.

In particular, the union has demanded the duty on the regulator to promote competition be dropped, something other critics have called for.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review: Interview with Colin Leys ‘The Plot Against the NHS’

The plot against the NHS
The plot against the NHS

There are three articles on ‘The Plot Against the NHS’ today:

The Plot Against The NHS / Non-Fiction / Books / Culture / Home – Morning Star

‘The Plot Against NHS’: Essential reading for battles ahead|28May11|Socialist Worker

Resisting plot against NHS|28May11|Socialist Worker

The NHS is under serious attack from the Tories and faces rampant privatisation. Colin Leys, co-author of a new book on the NHS, spoke to Yuri Prasad about what the cuts mean—and how this is the logical conclusion of policies pursued by New Labour

Many say that if the government’s health and social care bill were passed in its present form it would mean the end of the NHS as we know it. Does that overstate the threat?

Colin Leys I don’t think it overstates the threat at all. The bill removes the secretary of state’s responsibility to provide a national health service and doesn’t assign it to anyone else. She or he would only be charged with “promoting” it.


Selected excerpts from ‘The Plot Against the NHS’ by Colin Leys and Stewart Player. Chapter One is available here. I highly recommend this book available from Merlin Press for £10.

The Plot Against the NHS #1

The Plot Against the NHS #2


Continue ReadingNHS news review: Interview with Colin Leys ‘The Plot Against the NHS’

NHS news review

Cameron’s pledge to increase health spending in real terms is yet again shown to be untrue.

The NHS Confederation – which represents all types of providers and commissioners of NHS services in England – opposes the bill to destroy the NHS claiming that the case for the breadth of the government’s reforms ‘has yet to be clearly made’.

Shameless liar Nick Clegg claims that “There will be no privatisation of the NHS” at Prime Minister’s Questions. He is definitely a Tory and a liability to the Liberal-Democrats and they should dump him.

Wales and Scotland are to have more severe NHS cuts that England.

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Unite cautiously welcomes news on privatisation of blood service

Unite, Britain’s biggest union has cautiously welcomed news that Linda Hamlyn, head of the NHS blood service has expressed optimism it will escape privatisation amid suggestions the government is becoming worried about the political backlash against competition (see http://www.hsj.co.uk/5030170.article.)

The Department of Health (DH) is currently leading a review into ways the NHS Blood Service could cut costs. As part of the review the DoH have been talking to private providers.

Unite launched a media and  online campaign against the potential privatisation of parts of the blood service and raised the issue with MPs who asked questions in the house. A recent independent poll of 18,000 people commissioned by Unite showed that 74 per cent opposed the privatisation of any part of the blood service. Over 50,783 people signed a petition started by Unite against privatisation.

Unite national officer, Rachael Maskell said: “This is a step in the right direction but we will continue to keep a careful watch over this very precious service. Privatisation of any part of the blood service contaminates the whole of the blood service. Our campaign struck a chord with the general public, who were outraged when they learnt that the government was prepared to even consider privatising parts of the blood service.

“It is totally wrong to allow private sector companies to profit from men and women who freely donate their blood to help others. The government got the message that the people of this country were saying no to blood money but we will remain vigilant to ensure that these proposals have not just been kicked into the long grass for the time being.”

Cameron’s NHS budget pledge false, says expert | Society | The Guardian

David Cameron‘s pledge to increase the NHS budget in real terms has been challenged by a leading health economist who claims the service’s spending power is set to fall. The NHS budget in England will be 0.9% lower by 2014-15 than it was in the financial year that ended last month, Professor John Appleby writes in the British Medical Journal.

Although ministers are giving the service more cash in each of the remaining four years of this parliament, inflation will mean its purchasing power is eroded so much that it will drop, he says.

Appleby, chief economist at the King’s Fund health thinktank, contradicts Cameron and health secretary Andrew Lansley’s repeated promises to deliver year-on-year rises in real terms. They claim the NHS will receive an extra £11.5bn over the next four years thanks to protecting the health budget, increasing it from £103.8bn in 2010-11 to £114.4bn by 2014-15.

Appleby does not dispute the cash increases but insists that “by 2014-15 the amount of money the NHS has to spend in real terms, its purchasing power, will have gone down by 0.9%.”

He based his predictions on Treasury estimates of inflation in the economy as a whole, and the likelihood of NHS staff pressing for pay increases once the current three-year freeze ends in 2013.

38 Degrees | Blog | NHS Ads: Lansley has his fingers in his ears

38Degrees NHS Ads: Lansley Still Isn't Listening
Lansley Still Isn't Listening

“When we tell him his plans aren’t working, he doesn’t seem to want to hear what we’re saying.

– Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chair of the British Medical Association, May 2011

It’s hard to listen with two fingers stuck in your ears. That’s the message 38 Degrees members have sent Health Minister Andrew Lansley this morning.

Newspaper ads funded entirely by thousands of donations from 38 Degrees members have been published in five daily papers, the GuardianMirrorMailExpress and Metro. The combined circulation is a whopping six million people. These ads were driven by people power with thousands of contributors raising over £90,000 in just a few days. And not only did 38 Degrees members fully fund the ads, they also contributed important feedback during the design process.

Lansley still isn’t listening. His sham “listening exercise” draws to a close at the end of the month and today 38 Degrees members have sent a message he can’t possibly ignore. The future of the NHS is too important for us to let it be decided behind closed doors.

Cheltenham MP speaks out on plans for NHS shake-up in county|Gloucestershire news

CONCERNS have been raised that a shake-up of NHS care in the county could see health services move away from Cheltenham.

Town MP Martin Horwood yesterday warned the proposals put forward by health bosses may continue the “drip, drip” erosion of services at Cheltenham General Hospital.

This week saw a consultation begin on plans affecting stroke care, outpatient breast cancer services, trauma cases and emergency treatment for children.

Mr Horwood greeted the proposals with caution. He said: “I’m relieved that, as promised, there is no suggestion that Cheltenham’s A&E is going to close and that there are no further threats to maternity or other key local services.

“But it’s clear that the consultation is leading people to endorse a further shift in key emergency services from Cheltenham to Gloucester.”

Under the plans, those who suffer a stroke and trauma patients may be treated at one site in the county. There is also a proposal to have one dedicated children’s emergency unit at Gloucestershire Royal.

Health reforms need rethink, says NHS Confederation | Public Finance — official CIPFA magazine

The body that represents most of the organisations in the NHS has refused to back the government’s planned health reforms. The NHS Confederation argues that the reforms will provide neither the productivity gains nor financial savings needed. It says the proposals need a ‘significant overhaul’ and are being implemented against an ‘arbitrary’ timetable.

In its submission on the Health and Social Care Bill, the confederation, which represents more than 95% of NHS organisations in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,has said it is in favour of reform of the NHS. But it believes the plans need to be ‘better focused on the challenges that the NHS now faces’.

The proposed reforms would transfer health care commissioning transfer from primary care trusts to consortiums of GPs. It would also open up NHS services to bids from ‘any willing provider’ to provide care.

The reforms were put on hold on April 4 when Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that the government would embark on a ‘listening exercise’ on the plans, dubbed the NHS Future Forum.

The NHS Confederation’s contribution to this consultation agrees that part of the reforms, including the introduction of clinical commissioning led by GPs, ‘have real merit’. It also backs the use of competition in the NHS where it can show benefits to patients and taxpayers.

However, it argues that the case for the breadth of the government’s reforms ‘has yet to be clearly made’, adding that the changes are not ‘sufficiently focused’ on the problems facing the NHS, including the need to save £20bn by 2014/15.

NHS reforms are not privatisation through the backdoor, says Clegg | Mail Online

Nick Clegg today insisted the Government’s healthcare reforms did not amount to NHS privatisation.

The Deputy Prime Minister was repeatedly pressed over the coalition’s shake-up of medical services at Commons question time, with Labour MPs lining up to accuse the Government of backdoor privatisation.

But an angry Mr Clegg told them: ‘There will be no privatisation of the NHS.’

Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman told MPs: ‘People are worried about the NHS being turned from a public service into a commercial market.’

BBC News – Wales facing ‘worst health cuts’

Wales is facing the worst NHS cuts in the UK, a review of spending suggests.

The analysis, by Professor John Appleby, of the King’s Fund think tank, suggests the Welsh NHS budget will fall by nearly 11% in the next three years, once inflation was taken into account.

Northern Ireland faces a 2.2% cut over four years, he says, with the long-term picture in Scotland less clear.

England came out best, but even it is facing a cut of 0.9% over four years – despite promises to protect the budget.

Prof Appleby said this was because new inflation figures, which were higher than expected, had counteracted the small rises for the NHS in England that were announced last autumn.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

NHS news review:

Speculation concerning the future of the Destroy the NHS bill and the coalition government.

The King’s Fund response to the Destroy the NHS Bill proposes greater intergation and collaboration to improve services.

Further health funding cuts in Manchester.

Waiting times rise.

NHS Central Lancashire is considering making GPs redundant.

Lansley admits that the NHS Bill may be delayed by further scrutiny by MPs.

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles concerning the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Will the Liberal Democrats really save the NHS? » Hospital Dr

The Lib Dems have a lot to answer for when it comes to the deeply unpopular Health and Social Care Bill. The Orange Book wing of the Lib Dems, of which Nick Clegg is a key member, actually supports the idea of a social insurance scheme with private providers to replace the NHS, which is a key objective of the current bill.

The Lib Dem election manifesto promoted the idea of a market-based healthcare system and abolition of SHAs. The coalition agreement on health reform was signed by Nick Clegg and reviewed by Danny Alexander. The final page of the Bill itself (p367) has the Lib Dem names of Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander and Paul Burstow as supporters the Bill.

Finally, Lib Dem MPs have fully supported the Bill through its first two readings in Parliament.

However, the political landscape changed when the scale of the public and professional opposition became clear. The Lib Dem’s Spring conference, along with other factors such as the Royal College of Nursing vote of no confidence in health secretary Andrew Lansley, was crucial in terms of changing Nick Clegg’s stance on the reforms and gaining a natural “pause” in the Bill.

Major changes to health reforms needed to deliver ‘new model’ of care says The King’s Fund – The King’s Fund

The King’s Fund has called for significant changes to the government’s health reforms to enable the NHS to provide a ‘new model’ of care that meets the challenges of the future.

In its response to the government’s listening exercise on the Health and Social Care Bill, the Fund says it supports the need for reform but argues that it must be based on a clear diagnosis of NHS performance and the challenges it faces. It calls for the NHS to be re-orientated to deliver a new model of ‘integrated’ care, based on stronger collaboration between health professionals and more effective co-ordination of services.

The response argues that integrated care offers the best prospect of improving services for patients and addressing the key challenge facing the NHS – demographic change and the increasing number of people with long-term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and dementia. It draws on evidence from the NHS and the United States showing that integrated care delivers better outcomes for patients with long-term conditions and improves the quality of specialist services such as cardiac, cancer and stroke care.

The Fund calls for a number of significant changes to the Health and Social Care Bill and wider health policy to deliver integrated care.

“NHS is under-managed but over-administered” » Hospital Dr

The NHS is under-managed but over-administered, a report from the King’s Fund finds.

It calls for a new style of leadership to overcome unprecedented financial pressures and adapt to future challenges.

High-quality, stable management is be key to high-performing health services, it finds. Yet across the NHS, the average chief executive spends just 700 days in post. In part, this reflects a culture where ‘heroic’ leaders grapple with problems only from the top of the organisation, or are ‘parachuted in’ to replace individual managers and ‘turn around’ troubled NHS services. The report advocates a new type of ‘shared leadership’ involving leaders at different levels of the workforce working collaboratively with all those involved in patient care to lead change and improve services, rather than only tackling problems inside specific institutions.

The report criticises the government for not assessing the future needs of the NHS before imposing a 45% cut in NHS management posts and 33% cut in administration costs.

It says: “There is no persuasive evidence that the NHS is over-managed, and a good deal of evidence that it may be under-managed. While administration and management costs will have to take at least their fair share of the pain as real-terms growth in NHS spending ceases, a more sophisticated approach to the reduction in both is needed.”

Health chiefs in new bid to save another £20m | Manchester Evening News – menmedia.co.uk

Health chiefs say they will have to save more than £20m from Manchester’s NHS budget this year. It comes after £30m in cuts in spending last year.

NHS Manchester is now drawing up plans including slashing management costs by £3.7m and cutting £2m by rationing treatment.

A new system for GPs’ referrals is being credited with helping make savings last year.

All treatment apart from mental health, obstetrics and urgent care, now has to go through a ‘referral gateway’ before being approved.

Pulse – Waiting times on the rise

The number of patients waiting more than 18 weeks from referral to treatment is greater than at any time since mid-2008, the latest NHS statistics for England reveal.

More than 35,000 patients waited more than 18 weeks for treatment in March, breaking the NHS constitution-enshrined right for 18 week waits for the second month running.

The figures show that 10.4% of patients waited for more than 18 weeks from referral to treatment in March, up from 10.2% in February.

The numbers of patients waiting for more than 18 weeks has increased steadily since ministers removed the formal target of admitting 90% of patients within 18-weeks last summer. The target had been strictly enforced until last June but still remains a patient right under the NHS Constitution.

Figures for non-admitted patients showed the numbers being treated within 18 weeks had stayed stable on around 97% since the beginning of the year. Some 25,578 non-admitted patients waited for longer than 18 weeks in March.

Pulse – GPs to be made redundant as managers cut costs

Exclusive: Salaried GPs employed by a PCT face being made redundant as NHS managers charged with cutting costs turn their attention to general practice.

NHS Central Lancashire has placed a series of salaried GP positions under review as the PCT looks to restructure the organisation and realign costs.

Dr Edoardo Cervoni, a full-time permanent salaried GP employed by the PCT to work in practices in Preston and Ormskirk, is one of several GPs to be told their contracts are due to be terminated by the trust.

Dr Cervoni was informed in April that salaried GP positions had been placed under review and has now been told to expect to be made redundant at the end of July.

‘I was told that the PCT was going to stop providing clinical services and it had been planned that salaried GP positions “had to go”,’ said Dr Cervoni, a GP specialist in ENT medicine with 17 years’ experience.

‘Being made redundant is not nice and it has a negative impact on your career and particularly on your family life. I hope I may remain one of the very few GPs to have to experience the feeling, but it really seems that the process of dismantling the NHS is well on the go.’

NHS bill may need fresh scrutiny from MPs after ‘listening exercise’ | Society | The Guardian

The changes to the government’s flagship NHS bill could be so substantial that it has to undergo fresh scrutiny by MPs – delaying its passage through the Commons, the health secretary said on Monday.

The bill has already passed through the committee stage, where it was scrutinised line by line by MPs, but the proposals have been paused for a “listening exercise” with NHS staff and the public. A panel of experts, known as the Future Forum, was tasked with hearing concerns about the bill – a process that ends next week.

In an online question and answer session with Guardian readers, the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, answered a post about “recommitting” the bill to the house. “We won’t decide that until we have received the NHS Future Forum report and have responded to that. I told the House of Commons on 4 April that we would ensure proper scrutiny of the bill – we have done that so far and we will continue to do so,” he wrote.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

The Plot Against the NHS

The plot against the NHS
The plot against the NHS

The Plot Against the NHS by Colin Leys and Stewart Player – review | Society | The Guardian

A year ago Peter Martin, the chief executive of Tribal Group plc, which describes itself as a “leading provider of commissioning services to the NHS“, presented his view of the future for the health sector in England. He was bullish. Although he described market conditions as “challenging”, he saw an “improved flow of service delivery opportunities” that would significantly support Tribal’s revenue growth. Andrew Lansley’s 2010 white paper would bring “major changes in structure of UK health markets”. Martin’s goal was to focus Tribal’s health business on the profit-making opportunities these reforms would create. He set out five growth priorities: commissioning for GP consortia, clinical support services, patient management services, informatics outsourcing and hospital management services.

This is the future for the NHS that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have planned for us since the launch of the coalition. Despite their claims to the contrary, they have been laying the ground for wholesale privatisation of the NHS, the destruction (without any democratic mandate) of one of Britain’s most cherished and effective postwar institutions, and the transfer of its stewardship and operations to organisations concerned only with maximising revenues and reducing costs. The word “quality” appears nowhere in Tribal’s vision as communicated to investors.

How has the NHS arrived at this moment of crisis? Colin Leys and Stewart Player provide an indispensable guide to understanding the origins of what they call a plot against the NHS. Surely this is an exaggeration? Not so. Cameron, Clegg and Lansley are merely continuing two decades of policies – begun by Tony Blair, endorsed by Gordon Brown, and supported by successive Labour governments – aimed at introducing markets into the health service. Where Labour tried to hide its intentions, the only difference with the Conservative-Liberal alliance is their shameless transparency.

Looking back at Labour health policy now, I have to ask myself how so many of us were unable to see through the mists of what Leys and Player call the “misrepresentation, obfuscation, and deception” perpetrated by Blair, Brown, and a host of health ministers all too willing to genuflect to the market zeitgeist. Too many of us – whether doctors, nurses, or just members of the public – were willing to be bewitched by Labour’s mellow language of reform. The words are all too familiar now: modernisation, choice, empowerment, diversity, plurality, improvement, contestability, and, most beguiling of all, patient-led.

The Department of Health created a commercial directorate to oversee the plan to privatise the NHS. A group of passionate market advocates were hired to transform a public sector institution into a target for private sector takeover. People such as Mark Britnell, who was the Department of Health’s director general for commissioning when Labour was in office and who later joined KPMG – able to sell his experience in government to the world of management consulting – have now been outed as agents for the merciless dismemberment of the NHS. There was a revolving door between civil servants in the department and McKinsey, KPMG and Deloitte. Ex-ministers, such as Patricia Hewitt and Lord Warner, traded their knowledge of NHS privatisation with those who could benefit in the commercial sector.

Doctors’ leaders were little better. The British Medical Association’s John Chisholm and Simon Fradd, who led negotiations with government to revise the GP contract in 2002, won a huge victory by making out-of-hours care for patients optional. Nine out of 10 GPs stopped offering services to patients from 6.30pm to 8am. This withdrawal of NHS care allowed private providers to step in and take over. After Chisholm and Fradd had succeeded in putting out-of-hours care out for private tender, they set up Concordia Health, a private company, that offered to run those very same services, only now at a profit to themselves.

The networks of health institutions that propped up the case for marketisation and privatisation of the NHS were intricate. They include private providers, such as UnitedHealth (whose president of global health, Simon Stevens, was once a key Labour adviser); thinktanks, such as the King’s Fund (whose trustees have included Stevens and Julian Le Grand, his successor in Number 10); and lobbyists, including several NHS outsourcing and private equity businesses.

Having anatomised the diseased political corpus that has begun to infect the NHS with a commercial ethos that will increase costs, cut services and reduce quality, Leys and Stewart try to look to the future. They mount a strong defence, claiming there is no evidence the NHS is in urgent need of fundamental reform. Given the statement by Steve Field, who is leading Cameron and Clegg’s pause to review the Lansley reforms, that the current Bill could “destroy key services” and destabilise the NHS, it seems that the gathering momentum for markets as the solution to whatever ills the NHS might have could be about to stall.

Selected excerpts from ‘The Plot Against the NHS’ by Colin Leys and Stewart Player. Chapter One is available here. I highly recommend this book available from Merlin Press for £10.

The Plot Against the NHS #1

The Plot Against the NHS #2

Continue ReadingThe Plot Against the NHS