- 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 hospital boss has refused to apologise for sending an e-mail to staff warning they might not get paid due to a financial “crisis”.
It came as managers at Leicester’s hospitals met to discuss how to deal with a £6m overspend.
The chief executive of the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust defended telling staff they might not get paid unless cuts were made.
He said it was the toughest crisis the hospitals had faced in 10 years.
He said he was sorry if people were upset by it, but would not apologise for the message it contained.
The e-mail was sent to staff last week warning them of “catastrophic” money issues.
It said: “There’s a real issue about whether we will be able to pay our staff by August or September.”
In a bid to ensure the trust could pay its staff, health bosses have agreed to an immediate freeze on all but essential locum, bank and agency expenditure.
There will be a recruitment freeze on all but essential posts and and a more efficient use of operating theatres will be put in place.
Mr Lowe-Lauri said: “That deals with the today issues. As for tomorrow, this is the bigger job.
Disgruntled BMA Council members have launched a renewed fight against the Government’s health bill ahead of the association’s Annual Representative Meeting next week, after dismissing the changes announced by ministers as ‘mainly cosmetic’.
The group of doctors including GPC member Dr David Wrigley and consultant Dr Jacky Davis – a long-standing opponent of market-led reforms – have penned an open letter to the medical profession outlining their concerns, claiming the changes announced last week had done ‘nothing to reassure us’ about the bill’s ‘underlying aim to impose a fully-fledged market on the NHS’.
The letter, which the doctors have signed in personal capacities, claims the Government has crossed the ‘red lines in the sand’ of the BMA and RCGP in order to stay on course with its original plans, as demonstrated by the scaling back rather than removal of Monitor’s role to promote competition, and the retention of the Any Qualified Provider policy.
It says the Government’s response also confirms its intention to surge ahead with policy directions opposed by the BMA including the outsourcing of the function of commissioning to private companies, exposing the system to ‘a whole new raft of even less identifiable conflicts of interest’; and extending personal health budgets.
It adds that even the good parts of the ‘curate’s egg’ – as described by BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum, the introduction of GP-led commissioning, had ‘gone rotten’ as a result of the increasing powers handed to the NHS Commissioning Board.
The letter also cites a study by researchers from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, published in the BMJ last week, which described how the bill could allow private companies to strip NHS assets ‘leading to more a expensive system that will deliver worse quality of care’.
It concludes: ‘We therefore totally reject the repeated claims of the Coalition leaders that their reforms will deliver greater NHS efficiency and that there will be ‘no NHS privatisation’.
‘Even the supporters of clinically led commissioning must be highly concerned with a return of central control in the NHS via a strengthened NHS Commissioning Board and clinical senates. Thus, even the potentially “good part” of Dr Meldrum’s “curate’s egg” has now gone rotten.’
‘In conclusion, the simple fact is that the Government’s proposed changes to the bill are mainly cosmetic in nature. There are no ‘significant’ policy changes that will alter the general direction of travel and we believe the proposals will actually create even more problems for the NHS by increasing the tiers of bureaucracy.
In conclusion, the simple fact is that the Government’s proposed changes to the bill are mainly cosmetic in nature. There are no ‘significant’ policy changes that will alter the general direction of travel of the reforms and we believe the proposals will actually create even more problems for the NHS by increasing the tiers of bureaucracy. It is at this point that we would remind Mr Clegg that “no bill is better than a bad bill”. He would also do well to listen to views of his fellow liberal Democrat colleague, Dr Evan Harris, who dismissed the NHS Future Forum report as “cliché-ridden, trite nonsense” at the Social Democrat Forum last weekend.
It is incumbent on us as doctors to ensure our patients will always have access to a health service that does not differ across the country, a health service that is there when you need it and does not require an insurance policy or self funding if you need some extra care that your personal budget won’t fund. The NHS is facing the biggest threat in its history and as its founder, Anuerin Bevan famously said: ‘It will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight for it.’
We therefore urge members of the medical profession to take up the fight for the NHS by continuing to oppose this damaging bill and call for its withdrawal. We urge them to lobby their MPs, members of the House of Lords, and BMA representatives by highlighting what this bill means for the NHS, the profession and our patients.
Dr David Wrigley, GP, Carnforth, Lancashire
Dr Clive Peedell, Consultant clinical oncologist, James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough
Dr Jacky Davis, Consultant Radiologist, Whittington Hospital
Professor Ian Banks, President of European Mens Health Forum and Professor of Men’s Health, Leeds Metropolitan University
Mrs Anna Athow, Consultant Surgeon, North Middlesex Hospital
Written in personal capacities and all are members of BMA UK Council