I apologise that NHS news review is so late today – I’ve got serious debilitating toothache.
NHS news is mostly concerned with yesterday’s emergency debate on the health bill in the House of Commons forced by the Labour Party. There is also mention of the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) opposition to the bill and I’ve found rather an amusing one by HealthInvestor about the expected benefits to private interests: “The NHS reforms will lead to “short-term pain” but huge long-term opportunities for independent healthcare providers …”. Yet still the lying shits will claim that it’s not about privatisation …
I’ve been wondering whether the Liberal-Democrats should dump Nick Clegg. He tried to distance himself from the Tories yesterday but it’s bullshit. He was a Tory at University, he worked for Tory slug Leon Brittan and he’s incredibly chummy with many Tories. I don’t see why he should change his ways and start putting his own party’s interests over that of the Tories.
I’m also fairly surprised that the Tories are trying to destroy the NHS. Isn’t it political suicide for them? Won’t they be shunned for decades until those who remember the NHS have stopped voting having died?
- 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.
The government has defeated Labour following an opposition debate on NHS reforms, amid signs of deep division between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.
The development comes as doctors warned David Cameron that the reforms could destroy the NHS.
MPs voted by a majority of 53 to defeat the Labour motion, following a bad-tempered debate in the Commons.
After a day which saw countless Tory and Lib Dem MPs attack each other on the airwaves and online, shadow health secretary John Healey told MPs: “The NHS has become [David Cameron’s] biggest broken promise.
“Many of the signs point to the prime minister’s pause to listen being a sham.
“We say [the bill] must be shelved in its current form. This is the test of the prime minister’s promise to protect the NHS.”
Health secretary Andrew Lansley commented: “I have been clear that there will be substantive changes to the bill if they deliver improvements for patients.”
[An obvious improvement for patients would be for the Secretary of State for Health to provide a national health service. The bill is getting rid of that requirement.]
The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has outlined changes to the Health and Social Care Bill that must be made to protect the principles of the NHS.
An RCGP analysis paper refutes the need for mass changes to the health service and calls on the Government to exercise necessary change or clarification on nine areas of serious concern.
RCGP Chair Dr Clare Gerada (pictured) has written to Prime Minister David Cameron listing the advised amendments to the Bill and hopes the Government “will act upon” the issues.
The Government’s Health Reforms: An Analysis of the Need for Clarification and Change (pdf) also included 24 recommendations, and insisted the Bill should clarify that the Secretary of State has a duty to provide a comprehensive health service.
The intensity of the campaign against the government’s Health Bill has increased following the Lib Dem leader’s adoption of a tougher stance in the wake of the local government elections.
In a Commons debate briefing, the BMA calls for Monitor, the foundation trust regulator, to protect and promote quality not competition.
It’s a message also sent by the Royal College of GPs to the Prime Minister in a letter this week. The RCGP calls on the government to allow Monitor, the National Commissioning Board and GP consortia to enable integrated services ‘without fear of a competition referral’.
RCGP chair Dr Clare Gerada also urged the government to revise its plans for abolishing practice boundaries, which she said will “undermine the relationship between a local GP and local patients”.
The BMA calls for commissioning decisions to be driven by clinical need, quality, sustainability and local priorities, as well as best value.
Kill the Bill, not the NHS – that was the resounding message from unions, politicians and campaigners today as proposals to tweak the coalition’s health reforms were being debated in Parliament.
The Royal College of GPs had earlier warned the government that it must rewrite the parts of its Health and Social Care Bill that supposedly encourage greater competition.
And College chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada warned that the key element of the NHS reforms removes Health Secretary Andrew Lansley’s duty to provide a comprehensive healthcare system across England.
She argued that if this duty is scrapped the door will be open for NHS patients to be charged for parts of their services.
A day after the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg undermined the reforms by claiming for the first time that the Health and Social Care Bill was deeply flawed, Labour said there now needed to be radical changes to the proposed reforms.
Opening a Commons debate, John Healey, the Shadow Health Secretary, quoted the Liberal Democrats’ description of the NHS reforms from their Spring Conference, saying the reforms were based on a “damaging and unjustified market-based approach”.
Mr Healey said that he agreed with Mr Clegg that “no bill is better than a bad one”. But Mr Healey said this was a bad bill and that a pause was no longer enough.
The Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley, rejected the calls, claiming once again that the plans for the NHS were an “evolution of the better policies of the past 20 years”. He said that fears over privatisation were misplaced. Mr Lansley said that it “was not his intention and had never been his intention to see the NHS fragmented and privatised”.
Health secretary Andrew Lansley has sought to allay fears about increased privatisation of the NHS as MPs debated the government’s controversial health reforms.
He insisted groups of GPs would not be required to turn to the private sector once they were handed control of much of the NHS budget to commission services from April 2013.
[This is just crap. GPs will clearly not be able to conduct their duties as GPs without delegating commissioning duties. GPs are private. It is still teh private sector even if they directly employ people to do commissioning. Lansley is saying that GPs will not be required to turn to the private sector but they will, they will not want that responsibility.]
The Health and Social Care Bill could end up “unravelling and dismantling” the NHS if it isn’t altered, according to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).
As part of the consultation while the Bill is put on ice, the college wrote to the Prime Minister David Cameron to tell him that the Bill needed to be overhauled. The college insisted that the NHS could cease to be a national service, the postcode lottery problem will get worse and companies outside the UK – including venture capitalists –will be able to take over hospitals and GP surgeries.
If there was more competition instilled into the NHS the service could disintegrate, costs could rise, and patient care could suffer, the RCGP warned. Also, GPs and hospitals could start charging patients for various services and some practices could collapse if patients are able to choose to see a GP outside the area where they live. This could mean surgeries in built up areas overwhelmed while those in rural areas might not be viable.
Cancer patients could receive poorer care as a result of the government’s plans to shake up the NHS in England, leading cancer charities are warning.
Andrew Lansley’s plans to stop funding England’s regional cancer networks next year will deprive GPs of a vital source of advice about where to send patients for treatment, according to the Cancer Campaigning Group (CCG), which represents more than 40 charities working on the disease.
They have told Lansley, the health secretary, that patients could suffer if the networks are disbanded a year before the planned new GP consortiums start work in 2013. They want funding extended until 2014.
The networks are groups of cancer specialists who help hospitals improve their cancer services and guide GPs about where their cancer patients should go to get the best quality care.
An overwhelming majority of comments left on the section of the DoH website dedicated to the NHS reform listening exercise are critical of the government’s plans.
Around 50 comments have been posted on the webpage for the NHS Future Forum, the group led by former RCGP chairman Professor Steve Field that is leading DoH efforts to engage with patients.
Many of the comments raised concerns relating to the introduction of competition, the lack of detail about the reforms in the government’s election manifesto and the evidence base for the reforms.
One comment said the proposed reforms were a ‘recipe for disaster’. It said: ‘Competition has never worked for the NHS and will not do so. What patients want is good quality local services, not services miles away from home.’
Another claimed that there was ‘no evidence’ that increasing choice was the most efficient way to improve quality. ‘Increasing choice decreases efficient delivery and effective use of funds,’ the respondent said.
Other comments referred to GP commissioning, with some concerned about the size of some consortia.
THE Government has the chance to scrap its health reforms and protect the much-loved NHS from privatisation.
Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher made the plea as David Cameron came under renewed pressure to act following public calls from Lib-Dems to abandon the plans.
Health professionals have expressed great concern over Andrew Lansley’s proposed reforms of the NHS. The Health and Social care Bill will hand powers to GP to commission services in their area once the primary care trusts have been abolished.
Critics fear it will lead to privatisation of the NHS by the backdoor.
Mr Meacher said: “The NHS is a lifeline and that is why everyone loves it.
It is essential to the wellbeing and survival of everyone and it is the greatest pride of the last century. I have written to David Cameron about the 1,000 job losses at Pennine Acute and how he can stand by and say there will be no impact on front-line services. I am all in favour of cutting waste and value for money but he is making significant cuts to health service spending in real terms and it is completely unacceptable.
The entire bill should be withdrawn. There is no mandate for this, David Cameron went to the electorate on a promise of no top-down reorganisation of the NHS.”
The NHS reforms will lead to “short-term pain” but huge long-term opportunities for independent healthcare providers, according to a survey of 20 leading chief executives in the sector.
Consultants The Parthenon Group interviewed 20 CEOs from the UK’s biggest healthcare companies including Nuffield Health, Barchester, Four Seasons, BMI and HCA.
Around 8/10 of respondents remain positive about NHS reform in the long term, with the government’s Any Qualified Provider (AQP) policy still likely to open up much of the NHS market.
Alistair Stranack, partner at The Parthenon Group’s healthcare practice, said he expects around 50% of the NHS’s £120bn funding will be up for grabs via AQP when the reforms are finally passed.
But continued bias against the private sector and worsening bureaucracy means the value of contracts actually awarded to the sector is unlikely to rise above 5-10% over the next five years, he said.
One CEO, responding to the survey, said “the bureaucratic burdeon of AQP is likely to slow down private sector participation and may prove more cumbersome than existing systems of choice like Choose and Book.”
There would be “some hiatus in the short term” but there was “no doubt we will see growth in the longer term as new areas are opened up to AQP,” another company leader commented.
Speaking at a Parthenon event in London, Nick Bosanquet, health economist at Imperial College, predicted that the current crisis in the NHS’s finances would lead to up to 25% of all healthcare in the UK being self-funded or insurance-based by 2018.