NHS news review:
A protest by doctors in York.
HospitalDr reports on the actually widely known outsourcing of NHS treatment under Labour to reduce waiting lists. Private companies were paid regardless of whether they actually did the operations.
Cuts to Diabetic Specialist Nurses adversely affects treatment of Diabetes.
Staff cuts at Epsom General Hospital.
A claim that coalition conflict is damaging the NHS.
Guardian Comment is Free praises Nick Clegg. I suggest that it is important to realise that Clegg is not outright opposing competition in the NHS or the issue that the Health Secretary should provide a comprehensive healthcare system. Clegg has until recently been a wholehearted supporter of this bill. We could do with a fact check as to whether Clegg & Co are complying with the resolution of their Spring Conference. I suspect that they are not. Interesting comments to this article.
- 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.
A MARCH organised by York doctors concerned about NHS reforms took place in the city centre at the weekend.
About 150 people worried about the scale of the Government’s NHS changes attended the protests, organised by Defend Our NHS York.
The march made its way to Parliament Street where the speakers included Baroness Haleh Ashar, a member of the House of Lords and professor of politics and women’s studies.
Protesters were joined by shoppers and tourists when speeches were made by the fountain in Parliament Street followed a chorus of “three cheers for the NHS” led by Dr James Chan.
Speaking to the crowd, Dr Chan, who is based at York Hospital, said: “We are here to stop these cuts because they are going to destroy the NHS.
“This is York’s voice against these reforms, which are the wrong plan at the wrong time, and you are all NHS heroes.”
Baroness Afshar said “There are times when the public knows best, and this is one of those times.
“These reforms make no sense and what we want is more transparency.
“I don’t know any GP who supports these reforms because they do not have the expertise and they do not have the information.
“It is nonsense from beginning to end, so I urge you to please, please protect our NHS.”
Private firms were paid millions for operations that never took place in overly generous contracts drawn up by the Department of Health, in a Labour plan to cut waiting times and improve choice.
The independent providers – ISTCs – received more cash for their buildings when contracts came to an end, and were even paid compensation when a second wave of clinics was cut back, a study by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found.
Another part of the £1.5billion scheme intended to allow busy workers to see doctors near offices – or polyclinics as they became known – but the new walk-in centres were under-used and most are closing down.
As controversial reforms to the NHS will provide even greater opportunities for private providers, it is feared that more public money will be wasted on similar projects to the doomed Independent Sector Treatment Centre initiative.
The number of diabetic specialist nurse (DSN) posts unfilled across the service has doubled within a year. A survey of 385 hospital trusts and primary care trusts (PCTs) by Diabetes UK found that 218 jobs were vacant last year, even though the number of people with diabetes is rising by 150,000 a year.
“At a time when numbers of people with diabetes are increasing, a decrease in the number of diabetes specialist nurses is very concerning,” said the charity’s chief executive, Barbara Young. “This will mean longer waiting times for specialist support, more unnecessary amputations, more people losing their sight and far poorer health outcomes. This is simply not acceptable.”
The research also reveals that the proportion of DSN posts lying unfilled because of cost-saving programmes had risen to 43% – up from 34% in 2009. PCTs and hospitals in England have increasingly been reducing their staff and cutting back on the services they provide as they struggle with the demands of a £20bn NHS efficiency drive, flat budgets and rising costs. The new findings confirm a growing tendency among bosses of cash-strapped NHS organisations not to replace specialist nurses – who also help patients with cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and other conditions – when they retire, move on or are made redundant. However, these nurses are popular with patients and their families, have a proven record of clinical success and an ability to save the NHS money by helping patients stay at home rather than in hospital.
An NHS trust with hospitals in Surrey and London has set out savings plans that could see the loss of 115 posts including 26 doctors.
Epsom and St Helier University Hospitals NHS Trust has begun a 90-day consultation with staff and unions.
The trust said it wanted to save £18.7m by March 2012 but it would still be left with a £19.3m deficit at the end of the financial year.
The public sector Unison has not yet commented on the savings plans.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg have been told to end their public “arm-wrestling” over the NHS because their divisions are worrying health professionals.
They should resolve the coalition’s deepening difficulties on the issue and make the service’s future clear as soon as possible.
The sharply-worded intervention in the increasingly fractious debate between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats comes from Prof Chris Ham, chief executive of the King’s Fund health thinktank and a member of Downing Street’s “kitchen cabinet” on health policy.
“These arguments between the political leaders are worrying and unsettling people in the NHS. If you are running a hospital or primary care trust or pathfinder consortium of GPs you are now very unclear about the direction that the government is going in on these reforms,” Ham said.
“Everything is back in the melting-pot. We are worried about the adverse effects on the NHS if this current uncertainty continues much longer.”
Nick Clegg is making a real difference. These are not common words to read these days, and yet they are becoming hard to dispute with the stalled English health reforms. It is true that the deputy prime minister would be better placed to claim credit if he had not initially nodded Andrew Lansley’s bill through, and true, too, that not all the sweeping concessions he now demands fit with the scepticism about the NHS he has sometimes shown in the past. Nonetheless, Mr Clegg has responded decisively to his party’s democratic will, and is training his sights on the heart of the Lansley plans.
First, he drew a red line around the crucial clause that tasks the regulator with “promoting competition”, and he has now done the same with the legislative invitation for “any qualified provider” to take on the NHS. The deputy PM must now apply a third veto to the unacceptable plan to allow private firms to discharge the core public function of spending health service money. He will then have removed the three greatest drivers of privatisation from among the 80-odd clauses that create an NHS market. Assuming, of course, that he can strong-arm the Conservatives into agreeing. He can afford no compromise. Savaged in Scotland, ravaged in the referendum and trashed in town halls, Mr Clegg retains a grip over his parliamentary party that surprises many outsiders. To keep it, however, he simply has to win this fight.
One reason to be optimistic is that the tide of opinion seems to have decisively turned. Marketising medicine had been steadily becoming entrenched as the orthodoxy, ever since Tony Blair made it his millennial mission. The bust-up over the bill, however, has made the whole approach controversial again. Suddenly Labour’s John Healey, who spent a lonely autumn developing all the criticisms of the Lansley blueprint that medics and Lib Dems now voice with such passion, concedes that his own party wrongly pursued “competition for its own sake” through overpriced and underutilised private treatment centres.