While the Con-Dem coalition government claims that there are no cuts to the NHS:
- NHS hospital workers are asked to work for nothing and give up holidays.
- NHS trust managers call on the government to be “more honest” about the financial challenges facing the NHS.
- Cuts extend the waiting time for physiotherapy.
- Conservative election poster 2010
A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.
Staff at an NHS hospital have been asked to give up their holiday time or work for nothing in a desperate attempt to save money.
Whipps Cross University Hospital Trust in east London has told doctors and nurses that it needs to take “extraordinary financial measures” to tackle its £4.5million deficit.
These include asking all of its 3,400 workers to voluntarily “sacrifice” part of their annual leave, take unpaid leave or perform “additional unpaid sessional duties”.
The hospitals’s executive team have all agreed to give up two days of their holiday entitlement while consultants are being asked to work one extra clinical shift every month.
It is a stark example of the financial pressures facing NHS organisations.
The overall health budget is falling in real terms while trusts have been told to make efficiency savings totalling £20billion by 2015.
All trusts are expected to reach semi-independent Foundation Trust status by 2013, which means balancing their books, while their income is likely to fall as the NHS is opened up to more competition.
In the letter to staff, Whipps Cross’s chief executive, Cathy Geddes, wrote: “As you all know the Trust is facing unprecedented and demanding financial challenges in 2011/12 and beyond. Therefore, it is imperative that we take all necessary steps and make concerted efforts to ensure we work towards the achievement of our financial, and all other, targets.
“To this end, and in light of our month five financial results (£4.5m actual deficit) you will be aware that the Trust has now launched extra-ordinary financial measures.
“As part of these measures we have asked staff if they are willing to volunteer to sacrifice annual leave and/or perform additional unpaid sessional duties. In true Whipps Cross spirit many of you have already rallied to this request and kindly offered to help.
“I would also like to stress that any such sacrifice will be a one-off in 2011/12 and will NOT commit anyone on an on-going basis or change anyone’s terms and conditions of employment.”
Health service managers have called on the government to be more honest about the financial challenges facing the NHS in England.
The NHS Confederation says a lack of candour over funding is damaging as the public may resist a service being cut.
One trust chief executive said ministers were not being straight with the public: “What people cannot tolerate is the lack of honesty about some of the tough choices that we’re having to make.
“Wrapping it up in a language of modernisation and patient choice is simply unacceptable.”
Another said: “Many chief executives – just about all that I speak to, believe that we’re living in a parallel universe.”
Fewer getting timely physiotherapy treatment and most have to wait for months, says Chartered Society of Physiotherapists
Patients needing NHS physiotherapy are waiting up to six months to be treated, receiving fewer sessions and having their pain prolonged due to cost-cutting and staff shortages, a new report warns today[fri].
The NHS’s financial squeeze means access to physiotherapy is declining despite rising demand from those with sore backs, necks and shoulders, according to the Chartered Society of Physiotherapists (CSP).
The longest waits for treatment are in West Sussex, where waiting time is between four and 27 weeks, CSP’s audit of 115 NHS primary care trusts across England revealed.
But in South Tyneside and Gateshead, patients were assessed by a physiotherapist within two working days of referral and had their first appointment in no more than three weeks.
The average wait across England is 11.8 weeks, found the survey, which uncovered “significant variations in how physiotherapy services are commissioned and funded”.
More than 4 million patients a year receive physiotherapy on the NHS, particularly those with a musculo-skeletal disorder such as arthritis or long-term conditions such as cystic fibrosis, or those who have had a stroke. Treatment plays an important role in keeping some people well enough to be able to continue working.
“Despite the cost savings to the NHS and the benefits to patients that physiotherapy can deliver, the CSP has discovered that physiotherapy services across the UK are currently being reduced, and this is having a negative impact on the quality of care for patients,” the CSP warns in its report ‘Stretched to the limit’.
More patients will end up being readmitted to hospital if they are denied the physiotherapy they need to recover properly due to increasing rationing prompted by the need to save £20bn from the budget of the NHS in England by 2015, it adds.
Addition 10.45 a.m.
Patients Association comments on NHS Confederation warning about cuts.
Katherine Murphy, Chief Executive of the Patients Association said
“For months we have been speaking out about the cuts that the Department of Health continue to deny are happening. We know from patients phoning our Helpline and research we carried out earlier this year that thousands of patients are having to wait longer for operations, tests and results. Long waiting times and cancelled operations are the number one reason patients are phoning our Helpline. Patients are also being left to suffer as procedures that could help them are being denied to them, including hip replacements and knee operations. When the NHS was asked to make £20 billion worth of savings we were concerned that frontline services might suffer, but patients were promised that these “efficiency savings” would not affect patient care. But now we have NHS Managers speaking out about the cuts saying they are putting patients at risk. It is telling that the Government continue to try to hide behind the idea that these are “efficiency savings” and cannot admit that they are cuts. Patient safety and wellbeing is being put at risk, and definitive action must be taken now to end this crisis. The Department must ensure that they are always putting patients first.”