NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

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

NHS waiting list penalties delayed « Shropshire Star

NHS waiting list penalties delayed

Penalties due to be enforced against NHS bodies who fail to treat patients within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP have been delayed

A Government plan to tackle hidden NHS waiting lists has been delayed – just two months after being announced by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.

Mr Lansley said in November that hospitals would face a clampdown from this year on the number of people languishing on waiting lists for treatment. But according to the Department of Health, although hospitals are expected to make progress towards that goal, penalties will not now be introduced until 2013/14.

Under NHS rules, patients should be treated within 18 weeks of being referred by their GP, but when that deadline is breached there is often no incentive for hospitals to see them.

To tackle this, NHS managers were told in November they had to reduce the number of long waiters from this year – and by about 50,000 by April.

However, according to the Department of Health, penalties will now only be introduced “once progress has been made on validating the backlog data and the NHS has had time to adjust to working to the new standard.”

Strike option on table in doctors’ NHS pensions dispute

Planned changes to NHS pensions could lead to an exodus of doctors retiring early and potential strike action, the British Medical Association warns.

[It is already established that many GPs are retiring early because of NHS ‘reforms’.]

The professional body warned the government against underestimating the animosity caused by planned changes to the NHS scheme – saying it was preparing to poll members on the issue.

BMA Scotland chairman Dr Brian Keighley said there was likely to be an exodus of doctors retiring early and added the BMA had not ruled out a ballot for strike action over pension reforms.

In a New Years message, he said doctors had been under attack on several fronts over the last year.

He said: “Their contracts are being devalued and undermined by NHS employers and now politicians are attacking the NHS pension scheme. It would appear that our political leaders perceive these to be the solution to the country’s national deficit.”

The coalition’s Dickensian take on disability allowance | Society | The Guardian

… keen as I am to celebrate the bicentenary, it is possible to take a tribute too far. The coalition government appears to have embarked upon a wholesale reconstruction of Dickensian society. Housing, education, health, social welfare; everything we have put together since, in order to protect the most vulnerable, is in the process of being dismantled to be replaced by a system that seeks to protect the rich at the expense of … well, everyone else. One cannot fault the scale of the government’s ambition, but as a tribute it is somewhat misguided. It is hard to read the details of the welfare reform bill, for example, being debated in parliament, without picturing Dickens rolling his eyes in dismay.

I recently read an impact assessment compiled by the Department for Work and Pensions on the proposed “reform” of disability living allowance – in other words, getting rid of it. DLA is a benefit designed to help people with the additional costs of living with a severe disability. Applicants must fill in a 50-page form, spelling out the most intimate details of their care and mobility needs. Doctors’ details must be provided together with a statement from someone who knows you well, an occupational therapist or social worker, for example. There are different levels of benefit according to the degree of assistance required, and a large proportion of claims are rejected altogether.

DLA is far from perfect. In particular, it struggles to respond to fluctuating conditions and the assessment form is strongly geared towards physical rather than mental health problems. But because DLA is payable regardless of employment status, it is a highly enabling benefit. A great many people are able to work precisely because their DLA pays for the additional help they need in order to do so.

For a government committed to getting people working, abolishing DLA presents a PR challenge with which the impact assessment grapples heroically. Replacing DLA with a personal independence payment, and slicing 20% off the bill, will “provide an opportunity to … communicate that support is available both in and out of work” it states. A “more objective assessment” (designed to reduce the bill by 20%) will create “a more active and enabling benefit” and – get this – the fact that “those on low incomes have higher rates of ill health” does not mean that “a change in income has an effect on health”. What the dickens?

BBC News – Newsnight – Republican Rick Santorum: ‘NHS devastated Britain’

Rick Santorum has lost the first battle in the fight to be the Republican candidate for the White House, the Iowa caucuses, to Mitt Romney by just eight votes.

Mr Santorum has been an outspoken critic of President Barack Obama’s healthcare programme and has said that similar policies brought about the collapse of the British Empire.

Here Newsnight’s Peter Marshall challenges Mr Santorum on what he meant by that statement.

Related (including Pop twat Bono is Sanatorium’s mate): New Statesman – 10 things you didn’t know about Rick Santorum…

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