NHS news review

Andrew Lansley’s choice of Commissioning Board Chairman Malcolm Grant says of NHS reforms “… this is all going to be very messy.” Camden New Journal reports on a transcript of his interview before a cross-party panel of MPs. Highlights include “… I am not a patient of the NHS.” and “Can I say that this is all going to be very messy?”.

Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary calls for the Health and Social Care / Destroy the NHS Bill to be abandoned.

Campaign group 38Degrees reports on its meeting with peers.

NHS cuts in Hull

Protest at ‘worst funded’ GP practice

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.

“I am not an NHS patient”, says new Commissioning Board Chairman Malcolm Grant | Camden New Journal

“I am not an NHS patient”, says new Commissioning Board Chairman Malcolm Grant

AS job interviews go, it was a merciless grilling.

When Professor Malcolm Grant, vying for one of the most important jobs in the health service, was asked to summon his “passion” for the NHS before a Parliamentary select committee, the Univer­sity College London provost admitted it wasn’t the easiest of tasks.

A transcript, seen by the New Journal, reveals him pleading to the committee of MPs: “Come on, what do you want me to say?” He added: “I find it difficult to demonstrate because I am not a patient of the NHS.”

The lawyer had been nominated for the role of chairman of the NHS Commissioning Board – an independent body overseeing more than £100billion of NHS funding – by Conservative health secretary Andrew Lansley.

But after a lengthy interview for the £1,300-a-day post last Tuesday, the cross-party panel of seven MPs were not so impressed.

In conclusion, they said the panel did “not endorse Professor Grant’s candidacy”, adding that he had “demonstrated a lack of experience of NHS structures and processes”; “did not demonstrate to the committee a robust understanding of the issues”; received help in preparing his application by the Department of Health; and “demonstrated an assumption that his appointment was already confirmed”.

Labour renews calls to scrap healthcare bill

Andy Burnham, shadow health secretary, today held an Opposition Day debate on the NHS, again urging Andrew Lansley to halt his controversial Health and Social Care Bill.

Introduced to the House of Commons in April 2011, the healthcare reform bill has generated significant opposition from all sides, including a unanimous vote calling for its revision by NHS nurses.

The motion in the name of Andy Burnham called on the Government to drop the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently under consideration in the House of Lords and “accept the offer of cross-party talks on reforming NHS commissioning”.

The Bill passed to the House of Lords on 11th October, renewing calls from public sector unions to halt its passage.

“Peers must see through Lansley’s lies and vote against the Health Bill,” said Unison general secretary, Dave Prentis. “Just recently 400 health experts warned them to oppose it, joining a growing number of campaign groups, charities, patient groups, health unions and royal colleges.

Opposition to the reform proposals stems chiefly from the introduction of a competitive element from the private sector. Patient’s needs will be put before profit, argue the unions, whilst public funds will emerge as private profit.

Proponents simply argue that competition will reduce waste, and that there is no evidence that profits translate to reduced care.

38 Degrees | Blog | House of Lords meeting: how did it go?

38 Degrees came face-to-face with a couple of key players in the House of Lords debate over the NHS last Thursday. Baroness Jolly is the Lib Dem lead spokesperson on health, and Lord Marks is a senior Lib Dem lawyer. They will be negotiating with the government Minister in the Lords, a Conservative called Lord Howe. They will also be influential figures among their Lib Dem colleagues. So they are definitely people worth trying to influence.

I attended the meeting along with three lawyers – Stephen Cragg, our barrister, Alice Goodenough, our solicitor, and Peter Roderick, a public interest lawyer who runs the website dutytoprovide.net

I explained that we were there on behalf of over 480,000 38 Degrees members who had signed the Save Our NHS petition. I also explained that the legal advice we were going to be talking about was paid for by thousands of small contributions from 38 Degrees members. That clearly had an impact: it’s because hundreds of thousands of us have worked together to show how much we care about the NHS that they were meeting with us in the first place.

I explained that we were running this campaign because thousands of 38 Degrees members have voted to make it a top priority, and that the scrapping of the Secretary of State’s “duty to provide” was a top concern of ours.

Baroness Jolly set out some criticisms of our approach, which echoed comments made in the Guardian by Lord Paul Tyler, another Lib Dem Lord who voted with the government last week.Thankfully, given how badly the tone of Lord Tyler’s remarks had gone down with 38 Degrees members, Baroness Jolly was more polite and the words “crass” and “mob” did not feature! As lots of 38 Degrees members pointed out after that article appeared, it’s always woth engaging with criticisms like these and considering how we can campaign together most effectively. But it’s also true that if we’re being effective we should expect to be ruffling some feathers amongst politicians.

The legal team paid for by 38 Degrees members did a lot of the talking. They set out our position on the “duty to provide”, explaining that 38 Degrees members do not want to see the Secretary of State’s legal duties scrapped or watered down. We went into some of the issues in quite a lot of depth – the points we covered are set out in full in this legal briefing prepared for the Lords in advance of their debate next Tuesday. We explained why the options currently on the table aren’t yet adequate to address our concerns. Baroness Jolly highlighted that the Conservative minister, Lord Howe, had said in his closing speech at Second Reading that he is willing to consider any amendments on this issue. I said that that is encouraging, but that 38 Degrees members weren’t going to go away until our problems are properly addressed, in black-and-white, within the legislation.

Hull Royal Infirmary ward to shut as NHS trust looks to save £21m – Local stories – Yorkshire Post

A ward is to close and two others will merge at Hull Royal Infirmary as an NHS trust tries to save £21m this year.

Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which has to make £95m budget savings over the next five years, says 46 beds in total will go.

A general medical ward will close and two others, neurology and stroke, will merge at the hospital.

The trust says there are no plans for redundancies, with all staff to be redeployed.

A final decision is expected at a board meeting in December.

Earlier this year it emerged that the hospital was planning to close 300 beds over five to 10 years, an announcement which caused unions serious concern, as they amount to 20 per cent of capacity.

Coffins, petitions and placards: Patients turn out to support ‘worst funded’ GP practice in the country – Pulse

Hundreds of patients turned out to demonstrate in support of a single-handed GP who claims his practice is the worst funded in the country.

Dr John Cormack has run the Greenwood practice in Chelmsford, Essex for 30 years and says that the PCT are refusing to fund the practice fairly.

Dr Cormack told Pulse: ‘We believe, on the basis of pretty good evidence, that this is the worst funded practice in the entire NHS.’

‘It goes without saying that this puts a question mark over the future of the surgery – at present, having exceeded our £25,000 overdraft we have had to ask the bank to increase it to £30,000 … and far from being able to draw a salary last month and the month before I’ve had to pay in a four figure sum in order that we stay solvent and the staff are paid.’

As a result Dr Cormack organized a demonstration of support where about 300 patients turned out.

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