NHS news is dominated by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s speech yesterday. The corporate press response is very easy on Clegg (compared to mine). It’s not a showdown as suggested by corporate media – Clegg is defending the main parts of the abolition of the NHS Bill including abolishing the responsibility on the Health Secretary to provide a comprehensive health service. Clegg suggests further delays in the passage of the Bill to destroy the NHS. There is an absence of opposition to GP commissioning consortia as required by instruction from his Spring Conference.
There are suggestions of a Conservative counter-attack to defend the attack on the NHS. The Tories are not really in any position to make such demands.
There are various submissions to the government’s ‘listening exercise’ which ends soon. 38Degrees assist in making your contribution.
I was expecting a speech by Shadow Health Secretary John Healey yesterday. Must have been mistaken.
- 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.
Commenting on the Deputy Prime Minister’s speech on NHS reforms in England, Dr Richard Vautrey, Deputy Chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, said:
“We agree that a dog-eat-dog market would be damaging to the NHS. Unfortunately, unless the current Bill is withdrawn or undergoes major amendments, competition will not only be encouraged, but enforced by law. The Deputy Prime Minister talked about promoting the needs of patients through competition as well as collaboration, but these two aims can be contradictory. We welcome the indication that the Health Secretary will retain responsibility for ensuring a comprehensive health service for everyone. In a system driven by competition, many services patients rely on could be at risk. We welcome the signs that the government recognises these concerns, but real evidence of their commitment to listen will not come until we learn more about their plans for the Bill.
“It is reassuring that the Deputy Prime Minister recognises the problems created by arbitrary deadlines for change. We hope this means that the deadline for hospital trusts to achieve foundation status will be relaxed, as the current rigid timetable could compromise patient safety. We are equally concerned about the pace of change for the winding down of primary care trusts. There has been no ‘pause’ on the ground, where implementation of the proposals is proceeding at great speed.”
The Health and Social Care Bill should be withdrawn or at least undergo major changes, the BMA says today (Thursday 26 May, 2011), as it warns that the latest feedback from its members on the reforms to the English NHS indicates very high levels of concern.
In its formal submission to the NHS Future Forum, the body leading the government’s listening exercise on the reforms, the BMA says the legislation represents “an enormous risk” during a time of huge financial pressure for the NHS. It sets out its own recommendations for changes to encourage the development of more integrated services, arguing that greater collaboration would be more likely to improve quality and efficiency than the current proposals to increase and enforce competition.
It says disquiet among NHS staff is being exacerbated because change is already being implemented despite the announcement of a ‘pause’. Over 80 per cent of just under 1,000 BMA members who completed a feedback form on the BMA website in May said their attitude to the reforms was either mostly or very unwelcoming.* When asked which area of the reforms was potentially the most damaging, just over half identified the powers to be given to NHS economic regulator Monitor to promote competition.
The BMA submission to the Future Forum calls for “a more mature form of commissioning”, based on clinical networks of specialists and primary care professionals working together across traditional boundaries, alongside commissioning consortia. The BMA is also today publishing new guidance putting forward examples of possible models for the governance of consortia and advising that, as a minimum, specialists should be involved in the design of patient pathways.
Commenting on a speech on NHS Reforms, made by Nick Clegg at University College London Hospital today, UNISON’s head of health, Christina McAnea, said:
“Nick Clegg’s attempt to reassure people that any changes to the NHS will be in the best interests of patients, has not worked. A growing number of professionals are calling for the Health and Social Care Bill to be ditched and that, we believe, is the best option.
“He is completely naïve to think that more competition won’t lead to a greater role for private companies. Companies who are chomping at the bit to start raking in cash from the health service. Once they get their teeth into the NHS they will destroy it.
“During this so-called listening exercise the overwhelming majority of patients and staff have put forward their fears. The Government must listen to them, rather than the hand-picked few, who are set to benefit from reforms.
“If the Bill goes back to Committee stage as a result of significant changes, Parliament will have a chance to scrutinise it in much more detail. In that case, reform plans already being pushed through should be stopped, as there is clearly no legislative mandate and none likely any time soon.
“We will continue campaigning against the privatisation of our NHS and this destructive Bill.”
The government’s troubled NHS reforms will be delayed by at least six months after Nick Clegg announced that the health and social care bill is to be sent back to MPs for detailed examination.
In a speech to patients and medical health professionals at University College London hospital, Clegg said it would be wrong to “bounce” the bill through parliament.
The deputy prime minister, who buried Andrew Lansley’s 2013 target for the changes by rejecting “arbitrary deadlines”, said a revised version of the bill would be sent back to MPs to examine at committee stage. Aides suggested Clegg’s announcement would delay the bill by a few months because it had already completed that stage.
Last week I blogged that the Tories are so angry with Nick Clegg for hijacking the debate on NHS reforms that they are referring to the Liberal Democrats as “yellow bastards”.
Now that anger is being translated into action. A thoughtful Tory backbencher, who was involved in the committee stage of the health and social care bill, has decided to set down his thoughts in writing.
Nick de Bois, the MP for Enfield North, sent an email to colleagues this morning while Clegg was speaking at University College London Hospital.
The email, a copy of which has been leaked to me, has a clear message: it is time for the Tories to recapture the debate by insisting that core “red lines” must not be crossed. Some of these have been crossed by Clegg. This guarantees a battle when the health and social care bill returns to the commons this summer.
A group of 40 charities says the government’s plans for health changes in England must be revised to give a voice to the most vulnerable patients.
They say the current proposals fail to ensure that patients will be properly consulted in the planning of services.
The charities have issued a statement setting out six “much-needed” changes.
The coalition government says there will be substantive changes, and describes feedback from organisations such as these as “invaluable”.
This statement has a long and impressive list of signatories, including the Alzheimer’s Society, the Patient’s Association and the National Autistic Society.
The charities set out a series of demands designed to ensure that the public, patients and carers have a say – especially those least able to speak up for themselves.
The ‘seriously flawed’ NHS ‘reform’ bill with its privatisation agenda should be scrapped, Unite, the largest union in the country, said today (Thursday 26 May 2011).
Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, outlined 11 key points in its submission to the government’s ‘listening exercise’ as to why the Health and Social Care bill should be withdrawn.
Unite is opposed to the bill as it heralds ‘commercial involvement on a scale’ not seen before, risking the concept of a universal, free health care service, which has been the central ethos of the NHS since its formation in 1948.
Unite is calling for a Royal Commission to be set-up to investigate the long-term demands on the NHS.
In its submission Unite said it believes that ”the heart of the government’s proposals will transform and privatise the NHS so that services are geared towards fulfilling financial and business contractual relationships and outcomes, rather than meeting health needs.
The Royal College of Nursing has called for ‘decisive action through significant amendments’ in its formal response to the NHS Future Forum – which is running the Health and Social Care Bill ‘listening’ exercise.
Dr Peter Carter, RCN Chief Executive & General Secretary, said the bill requires more than ‘minor and superficial’ changes to make the Government’s vision for the NHS acceptable to members.
There are just four days left of Andrew Lansley’s NHS listening exercise. That means we have 4 days left to flood it with our comments, concerns, and objections.
We can make sure that when the figures are released in a couple of weeks, the headlines are clear: the bulk of the submissions to Lansley’s listening exercise opposed his plans.
It’s easy and fast to make a personal submission to the listening exercise using the 38 Degrees website. It only takes a couple of minutes, and there are hints and suggestions for what to include.
You can send a message to the “listening exercise” right now here? It will take only a couple of minutes. You can be as brief or detailed as you like, and there are links below to useful facts & figures that you can include in your message.