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.
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is facing a confidence vote from nurses in reaction to his planned changes for the NHS in England.
After a “listening exercise” at Downing Street with the PM and voluntary sector representatives, Mr Lansley will go to the Royal College of Nursing Congress.
He will meet a group of 50 nurses – not the whole conference – which has prompted some to question his nerve.
Nurses’ leaders will today debate a motion of no-confidence in the Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley – just hours before he arrives at their annual congress to take part in a “listening exercise”.
In a sign that ministerial attempts to reassure nurses about their plans for NHS reform are failing, members of the Royal College of Nursing voted overwhelmingly to debate the emergency motion shortly after being addressed by the Health minister Anne Milton. If passed it will be the first such no-confidence motion in 30 years.
Tomorrow they will vote on plans for industrial action if the Government pushes ahead with proposals to allow trusts to implement incremental pay freezes for some staff. Members are particularly incensed that Mr Lansley will only be speaking to a selection of around 60 members, split up into tables of eight, for 45 minutes, and accused him of not having the “guts” to address the conference as a whole.
There are, however, some areas where the government is not prepared to listen: the commitment to abolish primary care trusts, to transfer major powers to commission services to GPs, and the ambition to vastly increase the participation of the private and, in theory, voluntary sectors in providing health services. In future, the NHS will continue to be funded from taxation and (for the time being) will be free at the point of delivery, but the government will step back from running the service.
Private sector involvement in the NHS is not new. Dentistry, worth £2.1bn, opticians and pharmacies are already in the private sector. GPs themselves are effectively private contractors, accounting for £8bn, or almost 10% of the entire NHS budget. Under Labour, private involvement was extended via independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs), handling mainly non-emergency elective treatments, as a way to bring down waiting lists.
But the current proposals are much more bold. Plans are under way to further outsource central services, such as workforce development (total budget £5bn) and procurement management. Even NHS Direct (worth £146m) is in the firing line.
The shift to create more than 200 GP consortiums in England will generate further opportunities for private firms. Notably, this will be in the management of commissioning, worth £1bn. Firms such as Tribal, Humana, United Health and Aetna already offer referral management services that promise to help consortiums slash their costs by as much as 15% and turn savings into profits.
Some 560 ‘frontline’ paramedic and technician posts will go in the capital as the service looks to slash its budget by £53million over five years.
A further 330 posts are to be removed from management and support services.
The cuts represent almost a fifth of the service’s 5,000 staff but the government insisted any savings made would be reinvested in patient care.
Exclusive: GPs are being banned from prescribing high-cost drugs approved by NICE as NHS managers seek drastic savings on prescribing budgets.
More than half of primary care organisations have brought in new blacklists within the past year, a Pulse investigation reveals.
PCOs are redrawing formularies in changes they estimate will slice £250m from this year’s drug budget. Responses from 134 PCOs under the Freedom of Information Act show that more than half have blacklists of drugs – in some trusts of more than 100 – that GPs are banned from prescribing.
Some 73 PCOs said they had added drugs to blacklists or placed additional restrictions on prescribing in primary care in the past year, as they strive to make average estimated savings in 2011/12 of £1.9m each.
The number of people waiting more than four hours in A&E has jumped 65% since the Government scrapped a target, NHS figures show.
Department of Health data on four-hour waits shows thousands more people waiting in A&E, walk-in centres and minor injury units in 2010 than in 2009.
Last June, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley relaxed a four-hour A&E target which has since been scrapped and replaced with a new set of quality indicators.
The data shows that, in the six months from July to December 2009, 176,522 people waited more than four hours, but this rose to 292,052 people from July to December 2010, a 65% increase.
Hospital casualty departments are struggling to cope with growing demand for emergency care because they have too few staff and not enough beds, Britain’s top accident and emergency doctor has warned.
As new figures pointed to a steep rise in A&E waiting times and 890 ambulance jobs were lost, John Heyworth, president of the College of Emergency Medicine, joined a growing chorus of doctors warning that the NHS funding pressures are already hitting frontline services.
“The emergency care system is struggling to cope at the moment,” he said. “Many departments spend their time firefighting because of the number of patients coming in, the limited number of emergency department staff and limited availability of beds.”
David Cameron and the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, have insisted that the NHS will not be affected by the deep cuts to public spending elsewhere and that frontline services will be protected during their shakeup of the health service.
But medical organisations, health charities and patients’ groups are increasingly sceptical that the pledge can be kept as health spending fails to keep pace with the rising cost of treating Britain’s ageing population.
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.
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