NHS news review

There are conflicting reports whether the government is intending to delay or pause progress of the bill and whether there will be amendments. This uncertainty supports contentions that the coalition government is incompetent.



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.

UNISON Press | Press Releases Front Page

“The public have voted – it’s time for the Government to back off from their ill-conceived plans to sell-off parts of the NHS Blood and Transplant service” said UNISON chief Dave Prentis, today (4 April). The call comes in the wake of a YouGov poll that shows an overwhelming 72% of the public who expressed an opinion would oppose the use of private companies running parts of the NHS Blood and Transplant Service. Given freely’ is the ethical principle upon which the entire blood and organ donation service is built. It is unique and a principle which has sustained the lifeblood of the service. Dave Prentis, General Secretary of UNISON, said: “The public have said a very resounding NO to blood money. The Blood and Transplant service is an inspirational service with millions of people willing to give their blood freely with no money exchanging hands “Letting private companies move in breaks that link and taints the whole service with the profit motive. There are also very real dangers to the safety of the blood supply if the smooth path from donors to patients is broken. “Is nothing precious to this Con Dem Government – the NHS Blood and Transplant service is not for sale and UNISON will fight to make sure that it stays that way.” Bev Easton, UNISON’s Northern Blood Centre, Branch Secretary and a donor carer supervisor, said,

“We’re fighting to stop the blood and organ donation service being sold off because we believe that private companies should not make a profit from blood and organs donated free by the public. This would undermine the very fabric of the NHS with potentially devastating consequences for patients.”

UNISON is holding its annual health conference in Liverpool between 4-6 April Delegates are expected to back calls by workers from the Blood and Transfusion Service to step up the union’s campaign against the part sell-off.

Cameron to plough ahead with reforms / Britain / Home – Morning Star

Downing Street insisted yesterday it was pushing ahead with controversial NHS reforms despite speculation over another coalition U-turn.

Prime Minister David Cameron is due to launch a so-called “listening exercise” this week in a bid to reassure critics of the radical shake-up which will see GPs take control of commissioning services.

But government sources denied that the reforms heralded any fundamental concessions or that ministers were pressing the pause button on the legislation.

PFI firms untouched by NHS cuts / Britain / Home – Morning Star

Private finance initiative firms are raking in guaranteed profits at NHS hospitals even as cash-strapped trust managers are slashing jobs and beds, health campaigners warned yesterday.

Health Emergency warned that some NHS trusts have even launched “asset-stripping” sales of land and property in order to bridge the funding gap left by the coalition’s £20 billion cuts programme.

But while the NHS is struggling to cope with shrinking budgets it is still making large payments to companies which built hospitals under PFI.

The 1,200 Queen Alexandra hospital, which opened under a PFI in June 2009, has so far confirmed that it will shed 700 jobs and 100 beds. Even further cuts are likely as it will still be left with a £6 million deficit.

PFI contracts typically last for 30 years and the firms that constructed the facilities receive defined payouts that trusts are unable to cancel or renegotiate.

Health Emergency information director John Lister said: “PFI means that hospitals face rising bills each year, regardless of their income.

Nurse education cuts risk from government plans | News | Nursing Times

Government plans to put NHS trusts in charge of nurse education and training decisions carry a high risk of prompting training cuts, the Royal College of Nursing has warned.

This and other concerns are set out in the RCN’s response to a Department of Health consultation on proposals to change the way NHS education and training is delivered.

The DH proposals include establishing “skills networks” in which NHS organisations will pool funds and make joint decisions over local education and training needs.

The college’s response says: “The RCN has some concerns about employers being solely responsible for decisions on ongoing workforce education and training. Experience has shown, time and again, where there is pressure on finances, that training is the first budget to be cut.”

Minister warned over loss of nurse leaders | News | Nursing Times

The NHS is “haemorrhaging” nurse leaders due to government targets on management cuts in the run up to the transition to GP consortia, ministers have been warned.

Leadership from the nursing profession was “essential” in order to help change services and improve clinical outcomes, health minister Anne Milton told nurses last week at a meeting at King’s College London.

But Kate Heaps, chief executive of Greenwich and Bexley Community Hospice, claimed Ms Milton needed to have a “reality check”. She said: “We are haemorrhaging fantastic staff, because of this, as I see it, completely unnecessary reorganisation.”

Janet Davies, Royal College of Nursing executive director of nursing and service delivery, added: “Some of our really good nurse leaders, who will form nursing for the future, are leaving their jobs at the moment – particularly in commissioning.”

Miliband urges Cameron to ditch ‘reckless’ NHS overhaul – 4/4/2011 – Community Care

Labour leader Ed Miliband has urged the government to withdraw its “reckless” NHS reforms amid speculation that ministers will offer concessions to allay concerns.

In a speech today Miliband will slam the plans in the Health and Social Care Bill and offer cross-party support for replacement proposals.

Miliband condemned the proposals to scrap primary care trusts, transfer commissioning responsibilities to consortia of GPs and open up NHS-funded care to a mixed economy of providers as “wasteful, unnecessary and potentially very damaging”, in a letter to prime minister David Cameron last week.

He called for the Health and Social Care Bill to either be dropped or fundamentally changed, including by reversing plans to transfer commissioning to GP consortia, shielding the NHS from the full force of competition law and ensuring that commissioning decisions are taken in the interests of patients, not profit.

Government to amend NHS reforms as anger grows » Hospital Dr

The government has revealed it plans to table a series of amendments to the health bill in the House of Lords, amid growing calls for a rethink from both within and outside the coalition.

The amendments will clarify plans for the role of private providers, include new details on NHS pricing and add additional rules on the transparency and accountability of GP commissioning groups.

The government is also considering a possible stay of execution for some PCT clusters beyond April 2013 – although this will not be directly addressed in the legislation.

The amendments to the bill are intended to stave off rebellion among disaffected Liberal Democrats, but government sources stressed that this did not amount to a fundamental change in direction.

New Statesman – How much “listening” will Cameron do on the NHS?

The “breakneck coalition” has hit another bump in the road. David Cameron has bowed to the inevitable and put the government’s NHS bill on hold for the next three months while ministers agree on the way forward. The announcement of a delay will be made at a joint event later this week involving Cameron, Andrew Lansley and, notably, Nick Clegg, who the PM is determined to bind into the changes.

It remains unclear whether the delay is merely part of a “listening exercise” or a prelude to significant concessions on competition, the role of the private sector and GP accountability. What we won’t see is a U-turn akin to that on forest privatisation. Cameron is too personally committed to the reforms to change course now. The shadow health secretary, John Healey, has rightly warned that “simply doing the wrong things more slowly is not the answer.”

The Lib Dem opponents of the reforms, led by Evan Harris, issued a list of “essential amendments” last night, described as “the minimum” needed to satisfy the party’s members.

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