Commentary and analysis of recent political events

Number of homeless in England has risen for 3 years in a row, report says

Homelessness has increased for three consecutive years, partly because of housing shortages and cuts to benefits, with an estimated 185,000 people a year now affected in England, a report says.

Research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Crisis found almost one in 10 people experience homelessness at some point in their life, with one in 50 experiencing it in the last five years.

Responding to the report, Emma Reynolds, the shadow housing minister, accused David Cameron of breaking his promises to tackle homelessness and get Britain building.

“Homelessness has risen every year under this government, the number of families with children living in bed and breakfasts is at a 10-year high and house-building is at its lowest in peacetime since the 1920s,” she said.

Leslie Morphy, chief executive of Crisis, urged the government to address a chronic lack of affordable housing and consider the impact of its cuts to housing benefit, such as the bedroom tax, welfare cap and shared accommodation rate.

Image of Accident and emergencyA&E Winter Crisis: Patients Wait 12 Hours

Hundreds of patients are being forced to wait more than four hours to be seen by accident and emergency departments as the winter crisis begins.

It is the first time since April that emergency departments have struggled to hit their four-hour targets as admissions to A&E hit the highest level since data started being collected in November 2010.

According to NHS England figures, 3,678 patients across the country were forced to wait between four and 12 hours for treatment.

Five patients were not seen for more than 12 hours last week – the busiest week of the year with 415,000 people visiting A&E departments.

Waiting times were worst in major A&E wards where just 92.2% of patients were seen within four hours.

Free-Market Ideology: The Destruction of Lives

The over-policing of America

BoJo the bozo: Cycling safety campaigners slam Boris Johnson over lack of helmet and hi-viz 

Idiot Johnson is not the only one setting a poor example. As a cyclist, I advise you to wear a helmet as I was advised by my GP (doctor). If you fall from a bike, you’re falling six feet or so possibly with your head impacting the ground. Even presidents can have a ‘bicycle accident’.

Continue ReadingCommentary and analysis of recent political events

Coalition cuts blamed for shortage of 20,000 NHS nurses

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/coalitioncuts-blamedfor-shortageof-20000nhs-nurses-8933661.html

FOI requests reveal ‘hidden workforce crisis’ at odds with official statistics

Image reads Accident & Emergency, A & E

Freedom of Information requests submitted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) to dozens of NHS hospitals in England have exposed a “hidden workforce crisis” that has been missed by government statistics.

While official figures say that just 3,859 full-time nurse, midwife and health visitor posts have been lost since the Coalition came to power in May 2010, the RCN said that thousands more nursing vacancies have been created because hospitals have not been replacing staff that have retired or moved on due to reduced budgets.

Staffing shortages have been highlighted in a number of reports into NHS care. Robert Francis drew attention to understaffed wards at the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust in his report into one of the worst care scandals in the health service’s history.

Howard Catton, the RCN’s head of policy, said that Government figures had not been “fully reflecting the shortages [that nurses] are experiencing at ward level”.

The report came as Downing Street confirmed that the Prime Minister is personally overseeing the NHS’s response to what A&E doctors have warned could be “our worst winter yet”. Many trusts missed their A&E targets last winter and there are fears that amid rising demand and reduced resources, the system may struggle to cope with expected spikes in admissions.

Thousands of patients wait 12 hours in A&E

New figures show 12,000 patients were left lying on trolleys for at least 12 hours in emergency departments last year

Around 12,000 patients spent at least 12 hours lying on trolleys after being admitted to A&E last year, according to new figures.

A further 250 people waited for treatment in casualty wards for 24 hours or more, a Freedom of Information request revealed.

One person was left for 71 hours and 34 minutes, nearly three days, at North West London trust, which runs Northwick Park and Central Middlesex A&E departments.

In another shocking case a patient waited 37 hours at Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen A&E while a third was left for 33 hours at Ashford and St Peter’s in Chertsey, Surrey.

Health campaigners claimed the figures were more evidence of the growing crisis in hospitals’ emergency wards.

The figures came as the government received a warning that the closure of 50 out of 230 NHS walk-in centres in the last three years was putting extra strain on A&E units.

27/11/13 Having received a takedown notice from the Independent newspaper for a different posting, I have reviewed this article which links to an article at the Independent’s website in order to attempt to ensure conformance with copyright laws.

I consider this posting to comply with copyright laws since
a. Only a small portion of the original article has been quoted satisfying the fair use criteria, and / or
b. This posting satisfies the requirements of a derivative work.

Please be assured that this blog is a non-commercial blog (weblog) which does not feature advertising and has not ever produced any income.

dizzy

Continue ReadingCoalition cuts blamed for shortage of 20,000 NHS nurses

NHS watchdog concerned over care and safety at one in four hospitals

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/24/nhs-watchdog-care-safety-hospitals-england

Care Quality Commission says performance at 44 out of 161 acute hospital trusts in England is cause for concern

Accident and emergency
Accident and emergency

One in four NHS hospitals is a cause for concern over the quality or safety of the care it provides to patients, the service’s statutory watchdog has warned.

In an analysis of all 161 acute hospital trusts in England that is the most comprehensive ever carried out, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) says it is worried about aspects of care at 44 (27.3%) of them.

Performance in some areas is so inadequate that it poses a risk or an elevated risk to patients.

The sheer number of hospitals about which the regulator is concerned dwarfs the 14 trusts that Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS’s medical director, investigated earlier this year. Eleven of those 14 were put into special measures as a result of inadequacies he uncovered.

Continue ReadingNHS watchdog concerned over care and safety at one in four hospitals

GPs condemn David Cameron’s open-all-hours surgery plans

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/18/gps-condemn-cameron-surgeries-plan

Doctors say prime minister’s pledge is unachievable, as analysis shows only 1% of surgeries open all weekend

Image of Dr Clare Gerada
Dr Clare Gerada, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs said: ‘you do not find a solution by beating us around the head constantly, but by supporting and investing in us.’ Photograph: Frank Baron for the Guardian

 

 

Senior doctors have condemned the prime minister’s pledge that GP surgeries will open from 8am to 8pm seven days a week as unrealistic and unachievable, as a Guardian analysis of existing opening times showed that just 1% of practices see patients on both weekend days and three-quarters are shut all weekend.

Only 100 (1%) of the 9,871 surgeries in England listed on the NHS Choices website are currently open for part of Saturday and part of Sunday, while overall just one in seven – 1,439 (14.6%) – open at all on a Saturday.

Those that are open offer access to a GP for on average only three hours and 25 minutes, far less than during an 8am to 6.30pm standard weekday. Three out of four (7,561 – 75.6%) surgeries are shut all weekend.

Even at surgeries that do see patients at the weekend, opening hours can be brief. Although four practices in Sheffield, Coventry, Wirral and King’s Lynn open for 14 hours on a Saturday, the Village Hall surgery in Nottingham is open for just 30 minutes that day. More than 30 others open for an hour or less.

The findings underline the scale of the task David Cameron faces in honouring his promise, which earned widespread media coverage when he announced it at the Tory conference. Millions who find it hard to see a GP at a suitable time would benefit from the dramatic extension of opening hours, he pledged: “We want to support GPs to modernise their services so they can see patients from 8am to 8pm, seven days a week.”

But doctors’ leaders claim there are far too few GPs to staff such an expansion of opening times and the NHS is too cash-strapped to afford it. They have also questioned whether enough patients will want to see a GP outside normal weekday surgery hours, especially at weekends, to justify the move.

Family doctors’ organisations warn that a large majority of patients who visit surgeries during usual weekday opening hours could face longer waiting times and not be able to see their regular GP if ministers press ahead with the plan.

Continue ReadingGPs condemn David Cameron’s open-all-hours surgery plans

Number of NHS A&E units failing to meet targets triples in a year

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/oct/04/nhs-a-and-e-units-targets

Thirty-nine departments failed to see 95% of patients within four hours in England, up from 14 units for same period in 2012

Accident and emergency
Accident and emergency

 

 

The number of A&E units failing to meet the government’s four-hour target has almost trebled in a year.

A total of 39 departments failed to meet the target of seeing 95% of patients within four hours between July and September, according to NHS England data. This compares with 14 units during the same period last year.

The target covers all A&E types, including minor injury units and walk-in centres, and the number discharged, admitted or transferred within four hours of arrival.

The NHS as a whole across England is still hitting the target, with 96% of all patients seen within the time between July and September. But this is only because some units perform way above the target, with some consistently hitting 100%.

In August, David Cameron announced £500m of extra funding over the next two years to support A&E.

The cash is intended to help units through the winter, cutting delays and reducing the number of admissions.

The shadow health secretary, Andy Burnham, said: “David Cameron’s ill-judged re-organisation has placed the NHS in the danger zone. The government cannot continue to ignore the warnings. Until ministers face up to the fundamental causes – the collapse of social care and frontline job losses – the NHS will continue to struggle.

“This is further proof you can’t trust David Cameron with the NHS. We can’t have another year in the NHS like the last one – he needs to urgently get a grip.”

 

Continue ReadingNumber of NHS A&E units failing to meet targets triples in a year

NHS news review

 

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

 

Today’s NHS news review makes clear that the Lib-Dem-Conservative – the ConDems – coalition government’s brutal attack on the NHS continues apace.

NHS rationing ‘forcing patients to go private’

More patients are going private because the NHS is increasingly cutting back on providing a range of treatments.

GPs believe the numbers of patients asking about paying for operations including cataract removal and joint replacements has increased markedly in the last year, according to a poll.

Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said it was “incontrovertible” that increased NHS rationing was behind the increase in going private, a trend she described as “very sad”.

The poll, carried out by ComRes for the firm BMI Healthcare, found that 70 per cent of GPs are now unable to refer a patient for further treatment on the NHS at least once a month because they do not qualify under local criteria.

Primary care trusts (PCTs) have increasingly been restricting access to treatments including cataract removals, hernia operations and hip and knee replacements, by raising the threshold of how ill or disabled a patient has to be.

A quarter (24 per cent) said they themselves were now more likely to raise the possibility with patients, compared to only three per cent who said they were less likely to do so.

The principal reason behind increased interest in “self-pay” healthcare is treatments no longer being available on the NHS, according to the poll, with 66 per cent of GPs citing this.

Furthermore, 56 per cent thought patients were considering self-pay more because NHS waiting times had increased.

Dr Mark Ferreira, medical development director of BMI Healthcare, said: “As this survey shows, patients are being forced to consider how they will be treated and how they will pay for their healthcare.”

CBI says only privatisation can save the NHS

Only outsourcing to the private sector can save the NHS and other public services, according to the Confederation of British Industry (CBI).

A report commissioned by the CBI estimated that outsourcing of public services could save the Government £22.6bn a year by enabling adoption of more efficient business methods.

CBI Director General John Cridland said the report proved that for UK public services “business as usual is not an option”.

He criticised the coalition Government for failing to deliver on the policies of its 2011 white paper Open Public Services, which promised rapid privatisation.

Serco and Virgin Care are among 39 parties interested in South London Healthcare Trust

Thirty-nine organisations have expressed interest in taking over all or part of South London Healthcare NHS Trust, the first trust to have the failure regime applied to it.

Earlier this year special administrator, Matthew Kershaw, invited public and private organisations to express interest in running it.

HealthInvestor can reveal that organisations that have expressed interest include Oxleas Foundation Trust, Serco and Virgin Care.

A spokesman for the Office of the Trust Special Administrator said: ‘The market engagement exercise carried out by the Trust Special Administrator has now come to an end. There have been 39 responses received and these are being reviewed against the criteria set for this process which have been developed to ensure possible recommendations deliver safe, high quality, affordable and sustainable health services for the people of south east London.’

 

NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests

 

 

We do want to break up the NHS. We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up.” Nick Clegg.

 

Nick Clegg’s demand for the NHS to be broken up

Opponents said the comments about the NHS, in a 2005 interview in the Independent, showed that Mr Clegg had no understanding of the way the health service works.

In the interview, carried out while Charles Kennedy was leader and two years before Mr Clegg took the job, he said: ‘I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do to make it a more responsive service.’

Asked whether he favoured a Canadian or European-style social insurance system, he said: ‘I don’t think anything should be ruled out. I do think they deserve to be looked at because frankly the faults of the British health service compared to others still leave much to be desired.

‘We will have to provide alternatives about what a different NHS looks like.’

Under a social insurance system, members pay into an insurance scheme, either themselves or through an employer, to guarantee their healthcare. It means that those who pay into a more expensive scheme can get better care.

Under the NHS, however, everyone pays into the same scheme through taxes – and is then guaranteed care that is ‘free at the point of use’.

In the interview, Mr Clegg said ‘defending the status quo’ is no longer an option. Instead, he called on his party to ‘let its hair down’, ‘break a long-standing taboo’ and be ‘reckless’ in its thinking.

‘We do want to break up the NHS,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up. Should the debate be taboo? Of course not, absolutely not.’

A year earlier, Mr Clegg had contributed to the notorious Orange Book in which those on the right of the party discussed how policies should change under Mr Kennedy’s leadership. The conclusion of the book outlines in more detail the type of insurance scheme he was outlining.

‘The NHS is failing to deliver a health service that meets the needs and expectations of today’s population,’ it said.

John Lister, of the lobby group Health Emergency, said: ‘These comments show Mr Clegg does not understand the NHS. He seems to be ignorant of the fact that social insurance schemes in Europe are far more expensive.’

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘The NHS is one of Britain’s most loved institutions. People will be worried that Nick Clegg wants to “break it up”.’ [!!! That’s Andrew Lansley pretending that the NHS is safe in Tory hands before the election !!!]

 

How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems


What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-known Orange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.

Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.

Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.

The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

 

TUC: six months left to save the NHS

A leading trade unionist has claimed there are just six months left to prevent the NHS from ending as we know it.

The TUC’s John Lister, Director of Health Emergency, insisted efforts to resist the controversial Health and Social Care Act must be increased before it is too late.

Mr Lister said an “urgent clarion call” is needed to “resist the privatisation, cuts, closures and wage reductions”.

He said that the Act aims to “fragment the NHS, marketise it, commercialise it and privatise the services that offer profits, while leaving the rest as an underfunded, understaffed shambles.”

Despite being at the heart of the health reforms, Mr Lister claims that GPs “will be in the hot seat for future cutbacks.” “In reality all of these plans are cash-driven, cynical efforts to meet Lansley’s £20bn target for ‘efficiency savings’,” he said.

The activist has now called for a “firm rejection of the Act” by union members, increased publicity to raise “public alarm” over the proposed reforms and a planned demonstration as a “landmark” to “highlight the lethal threat the coalition poses to the health service.”

“We need to get people aware, angry, campaigning and reclaiming our NHS before the private sector reclaims the bits they have wanted since 1948 and dumps the rest into permanent crisis,” he said.

Commenting on the appointment of the new Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Mr Lister added that Andrew Lansley’s replacement has “all of the neoliberal politics” of his predecessor but “none of his declared attachment to the NHS”.

“He has made none of Lansley’s conciliatory gestures and promises to GPs during the progress of the Bill through Parliament and will no doubt find all of its worst proposals most congenial,” he said.

“His appointment as part of a rightward lurch by Cameron seems likely to result in accelerating the implementation of the Bill, while no doubt briefly diverting the energies of the British Medical Association and others who will feel obliged to give him the benefit of the doubt for a few weeks, wasting a bit more time before recognising the need to crank up the fight.”

 

TUC to support consultants’ resistance to NHS regional pay

By Francesca Robinson 

The TUC has voted to ’strongly’ resist moves to introduce regional pay into the NHS after a debate led by hospital consultants.

Regional pay would lead to a cut in take home pay, Eddie Saville general secretary of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, told the trade union movement’s annual conference in Brighton.

After years of pay freezes and an attack on their pensions, this latest development had driven consultant morale down to an all time low. “Hospital consultants tell me that some may opt to go early, some have even said they will leave the UK altogether,” said Saville.

In the South West, 20 NHS trusts have formed a pay cartel which has drawn up a package of 28 proposals which include cuts to on-call payments for consultants, slashing time for supporting professional activities by 80% and reducing sick pay and annual leave entitlements.

“Regional pay means two hospital consultants or specialists with the same experience and same skills doing the same job but getting different levels of pay simply because they work and live in different parts of the country.

BMA calls regional pay proposals ‘shortsighted’

 

South West NHS trusts proposing to introduce regional pay and conditions have been accused of being “short-sighted” and making plans to “undermine the national ethos of the NHS”.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said the 20 trusts in the region which plan to fix the pay, terms and conditions of health workers in the South West would also waste resources and could make it harder for some areas to recruit high-quality staff. Proposals put forward include cutting pay and increasing hours.

In a new paper, the BMA describes the measures as “short-sighted”, saying they could lead to demoralised staff and an increase in regional variations in quality of care.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of council at the BMA, said: “If this initiative is allowed to go ahead, other regions are likely to follow suit, taking us further away from a truly national health service. We do not want to see skills drain away from certain areas of the country, particularly in more remote regions.

“This is a distraction from serious attempts to address the massive financial challenges facing the NHS.

“Instead of wasting resources on short-term measures for which there is no evidence, and that will only serve to demoralise staff, we should focus on ways to genuinely improve efficiency and quality.”

GPs say NHS treatments rationed because of costs

 

A THIRD of GPs believe that health authorities are rationing NHS treatments because of costs, according to a survey.

Despite orders not to limit services, 35 per cent of general practitioners said that primary care trusts are restricting access to a number of treatments.

The poll, conducted by GP Magazine among 682 GPs, found that primary care trusts are rationing operations for hernia, joint replacement and varicose veins.

There were also restrictions on fertility treatments – such as IVF – and tonsillectomies, and access to some drugs.

GPs believe that health commissioners are also raising thresholds so most patients are not eligible for treatment, the magazine suggests.

In June, it emerged that pressure to save money had left 90 per cent of primary care trusts restricting certain procedures, including hip, knee and cataract operations and weight-loss surgery.

Cuts raise HIV care fears

Health professionals warned today that the quality of care given to HIV sufferers may plummet after Tory NHS “reforms” take effect next year.

The British HIV Association revealed that two-thirds of its members are worried the changes ushered in by the Health and Social Care Act will fragment services provided to patients.

From April 2013 commissioning will be split between the NHS Commissioning Board responsible for HIV treatment and local authorities, which will commission sexual health and genito-urinary medicine services including prevention and testing.

 

Thousands of elderly left suffering by ‘cruel and random’ eye surgery rationing

Thousands of elderly people are having to put up with deteriorating sight because they are denied cataract surgery on the NHS by ‘cruel and random’ rationing, campaigners warn.Some health trusts offer the procedure only to patients whose sight is so poor it has led to them having a fall, research has found.

Nearly half of health trusts ration operations, with many turning patients away unless they can no longer drive, read or recognise their friends.

NHS privatisation: Compilation of financial and vested interests

 

 

We do want to break up the NHS. We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up.”  Nick Clegg.

 

Nick Clegg’s demand for the NHS to be broken up

Opponents said the comments about the NHS, in a 2005 interview in the Independent, showed that Mr Clegg had no understanding of the way the health service works.

In the interview, carried out while Charles Kennedy was leader and two years before Mr Clegg took the job, he said: ‘I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do to make it a more responsive service.’

Asked whether he favoured a Canadian or European-style social insurance system, he said: ‘I don’t think anything should be ruled out. I do think they deserve to be looked at because frankly the faults of the British health service compared to others still leave much to be desired.

‘We will have to provide alternatives about what a different NHS looks like.’

Under a social insurance system, members pay into an insurance scheme, either themselves or through an employer, to guarantee their healthcare. It means that those who pay into a more expensive scheme can get better care.

Under the NHS, however, everyone pays into the same scheme through taxes – and is then guaranteed care that is ‘free at the point of use’.

In the interview, Mr Clegg said ‘defending the status quo’ is no longer an option. Instead, he called on his party to ‘let its hair down’, ‘break a long-standing taboo’ and be ‘reckless’ in its thinking.

‘We do want to break up the NHS,’ he said. ‘We don’t want to privatise it, we want to break it up. Should the debate be taboo? Of course not, absolutely not.’

A year earlier, Mr Clegg had contributed to the notorious Orange Book in which those on the right of the party discussed how policies should change under Mr Kennedy’s leadership. The conclusion of the book outlines in more detail the type of insurance scheme he was outlining.

‘The NHS is failing to deliver a health service that meets the needs and expectations of today’s population,’ it said.

John Lister, of the lobby group Health Emergency, said: ‘These comments show Mr Clegg does not understand the NHS. He seems to be ignorant of the fact that social insurance schemes in Europe are far more expensive.’

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘The NHS is one of Britain’s most loved institutions. People will be worried that Nick Clegg wants to “break it up”.’ [!!! That’s Andrew Lansley pretending that the NHS is safe in Tory hands before the election !!!]

 

How the Orange Bookers took over the Lib Dems


What Britain now has is a blue-orange coalition, with the little-known Orange Book forming the core of current Lib Dem political thinking. To understand how this disreputable arrangement has come about, we need to examine the philosophy laid out in The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism, edited by David Laws (now the Chief Secretary to the Treasury) and Paul Marshall. Particularly interesting are the contributions of the Lib Dems’ present leadership.

Published in 2004, the Orange Book marked the start of the slow decline of progressive values in the Lib Dems and the gradual abandonment of social market values. It also provided the ideological standpoint around which the party’s right wing was able to coalesce and begin their march to power in the Lib Dems. What is remarkable is the failure of former SDP and Labour elements to sound warning bells about the direction the party was taking. Former Labour ministers such as Shirley Williams and Tom McNally should be ashamed of their inaction.

Clegg and his Lib Dem supporters have much in common with David Cameron and his allies in their philosophical approach and with their social liberal solutions to society’s perceived ills. The Orange Book is predicated on an abiding belief in the free market’s ability to address issues such as public healthcare, pensions, environment, globalisation, social and agricultural policy, local government and prisons.

The Lib Dem leadership seems to sit very easily in the Tory-led coalition. This is an arranged marriage between partners of a similar background and belief. Even the Tory-Whig coalition of early 1780s, although its members were from the same class, at least had fundamental political differences. Now we see a Government made up of a single elite that has previously manifested itself as two separate political parties and which is divided more by subtle shades of opinion than any profound ideological difference.

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

 

The Con-Dem government yesterday announced that the cabinet had vetoed publication of the transitional risk-register about dangers to the NHS from the Health and Social Care / Destroy the NHS Bill.

Andrew Lansley claimed to be “… a firm believer in greater transparency …” but not in this instance. A more realistic assessment is that Lansley and the Con-Dem government has evaded publication of the risk-register at every opportunity and that they are desperate that it should not be published since it illustrates that they have been reckless and consitently lied about their intentions for the NHS. “No more top-down reorganisation”, “I’ll cut the defecit, not the NHS”, “I love the NHS”, “… it is not privatisation”. All bollocks.

An earlier draft risk-register has been leaked. It clearly shows that the government has been reckless with the NHS and strongly suggests that the intention all along was to destroy it.

 

 

NHS reform risk warnings leaked

Identifying 43 separate areas of potential risk, the draft register rates each on a scale of one to five, where a rating of one means little likelihood and very low impact and five means almost certain to occur and very high impact. The likelihood and impact figures are combined to give an overall risk rating, with a maximum score of 25.

Among 13 areas given a risk rating of 16 – with likelihood and impact each assessed at four out of five – were: Parliamentary amendments creating “unforeseen consequences for the system”; costs being driven up by GP consortia using private sector organisations and staff; implementation beginning before adequate planning has been done; loss of financial control; “unhelpful conflict” between the NHS commissioning board and regulator Monitor; GP consortia going bust or having to cut services for financial reasons; GP leaders being drawn into managerial processes which end up driving clinical behaviour.

Staff concerns and union action over the reforms could lead to “deterioration in relations, lower productivity in the Department of Health/NHS and delays in programme”, the document said. And there was a warning that strategic health authorities and primary care trusts might lose “good people” who then have to be re-employed to run the new system.

 

Continue ReadingNHS news review

NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

NHS reforms: medical leaders demand publication of risk assessment

Doctors’ and nurses’ chiefs call for release of government’s own analysis of dangers ahead of Commons debate

Medical leaders are urging the government to end its “astonishing” refusal to publish its own assessment of the risks its NHS shakeup poses for the service and patients.

The leaders of Britain’s doctors, GPs, nurses and midwives are among an alliance of senior figures in healthcare who are demanding the release of the Department of Health (DH) analysis of the dangers involved in the radical restructuring of the NHS in England.

It should be made available “forthwith” so that parliamentarians scrutinising the health and social care bill can be fully informed about it before they give it final approval, they say. Hamish Meldrum, leader of the British Medical Association (BMA), the chair of the Royal College of GPs, Dr Clare Gerada, and the Royal College of Nursing’s chief executive, Dr Peter Carter, are among nine signatories of an open letter to ministers on the issue.

It was published on Wednesday morning, hours before MPs were due to stage a six-and-a-half-hour-long debate in the House of Commons in the afternoon. The debate was called by Labour to highlight the government’s refusal to release the NHS risk register. The information commissioner ruled last November that it should be published. There was “a very strong public interest in disclosure of the information, given the significant change to the structure of the health service the government’s policies on the modernisation will bring”, the commissioner said.

The DH appealed against that ruling, however. It claims that releasing the document would set an unwelcome precedent that would make ministers and civil servants reluctant to discuss the risks of certain policies in full detail. But its continued secrecy has prompted rising concern among MPs, peers and medical groups that potentially vital information is being wrongly withheld which could influence the bill’s passage through parliament.

Labour calls on Lib Dem MPs to support NHS risk register fight in Commons today

Andy Burnham MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, speaking ahead of Labour’s opposition day debate in the House of Commons today, is calling on Liberal Democrat MPs to support his call for the Government’s risk assessment on the Health Bill to be published.

The internal risk register drawn up by the Department of Health shows the impact of the Health and Social Care Bill.

Labour are calling on the Government to respect the ruling by the Information Commissioner and to publish the risk register associated with the Health and Social Care Bill in order to ensure that it informs public and parliamentary debate.

 

Why I had to confront Andrew Lansley about the NHS

The NHS doesn’t belong to whichever government is in power – it belongs to the people and we’re being bulldozed from all sides

I have been campaigning to protect the NHS from 1979 when the Conservative government started closing hospitals; in Wandsworth, where I live, they closed five. I campaigned under the Labour government, too. But this is the most frightening situation I have seen.

The NHS is so important to me because I was born outside it, so I know how difficult it is to live without it. I saw my father going to work when he was very ill, because he couldn’t afford to take time off. My mother was ill and he had to pay five shillings for the doctor, our rent was only 12 shillings, so he had to work even though he had emphysema. In those days you couldn’t afford to be ill – and that’s what’s going to happen again.

If this bill goes through it is another step towards privatisation and we will no longer have the same care for everyone. I won’t feel safe. Under the NHS I feel safe, but once it goes private who is accountable? Already it’s difficult to see a chiropodist, optician or dentist.

Lots of people want to tell Andrew Lansley what they think, but he doesn’t want to listen to them. Yesterday, for instance, only the few professional bodies who agreed with the bill were invited to a meeting in Downing Street. The majority, 98%, who oppose the bill, he wouldn’t even listen to.

 

Lib Dem activists promise NHS bill trouble

Lib Dem activists are preparing an emergency motion for their spring conference urging the party to work towards defeating the NHS reform bill.

It “applauds the hard work being done by Liberal Democrat peers to remove the worst elements” of the Health and Social Care Bill.

It notes the government has “totally failed to convince either the public or NHS staff” of the need for change.

 

Doctor who criticised NHS reforms is threatened with disciplinary action

Andrew Lansley is accused of bullying staff who speak out against NHS reforms after senior doctor is told to attend hearing

 

Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, has been accused of “bullying” NHS staff who speak out against his NHS shakeup after a senior doctor who signed a letter criticising the proposed changes was threatened with disciplinary action.

The doctor has been told to attend a disciplinary hearing later this week by the NHS primary care trust (PCT) that employs him. It claims he breached the NHS code of conduct by airing his concerns.

In the Commons Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, asked Lansley if the trust’s action showed it was now his “policy to threaten NHS staff with disciplinary action if they speak out about his reorganisation”. He challenged the minister to reconcile his “new top-down bullying policy” with his previous strong support for NHS whistleblowers.

Prof John Ashton, county medical officer for Cumbria, received a letter from his PCT last week after he joined 22 other signatories to a letter in a national newspaper criticising Lansley’s health and social care bill. The letter read: “You are bound by the NHS code of conduct and as such it is inappropriate for individuals to raise their personal concerns about the proposed government reforms.” Ashton will have to “explain and account” for his actions at the hearing.

[“You have mistaken my professional concerns as personal concerns. I am bound by the requirement to endevour to provide the best possible care for my patients”. Continue by explaining how proposed ‘reforms’ will adversely affect provision of care.]?

I’ve just tried to make an appointment to see my GP. I was offered one in a fortnight’s time. Looks like you need to book them before you get ill.

 

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NHS news review

Conservative election poster 2010

A few recent news articles about the UK’s Conservative and Liberal-Democrat(Conservative) coalition government – the ConDem’s – brutal attack on the National Health Service.

Lansley has a hard time from those opposed to his destruction of the NHS and uninvited to the meeting of supporters at 10 Downing Street.

Andrew Lansley heckled by NHS union rep June Hautot before crunch summit

Health secretary Andrew Lansley faced angry protesters outside Downing St – spearheaded by vocal former NHS union representative June Hautot, 75 – as David Cameron went ahead with a highly-criticised summit on planned reforms.

No 10 faced deep criticism for failing to release the guest list to today’s meeting on the health and social care bill, with eight royal colleges saying they were not invited and health unions almost totally excluded.

Mr Lansley, the main architect of the bill, was almost prevented from entering Downing St altogether by a group of demonstrators.

As boos and chants of ‘greedy, greedy, greedy’ rang out, former NHS union rep Ms Hautot, 75, stood in the health secretary’s way saying: ‘I’ve had enough of you and Cameron’.

Ms Hautot, from Tooting, south London, later told reporters: ‘He said, “I want to get through” and I said, “You can wait. There’s a lot of people out there waiting for treatment and if your bill goes through, they will be waiting a lot longer”.’

‘He said, “we are not privatising the NHS”. I said, “I’ve got news for you. You’ve been privatising it since 1979”.’

[The reference to 1979 relates to the UK Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher.]

 

Lansley: Traitor

“Summit of the willing” puts Cameron at centre of NHS storm by Wendy Savage

‘Codswallop! Don’t lie to me, Mr Lansley’: Fury of pensioner (who just happens to be former union firebrand) confronting Health Secretary as PM vows to press on with NHS reform

June, 75, stands up to Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms

 

David Cameron’s NHS summit guests refuse to follow reforms script

Prime minister’s plan to discuss implementation of health bill backfires as ‘supporters’ take opportunity to outline concerns

If David Cameron was hoping for an easy ride on his controversial NHS shakeup by excluding its fiercest critics from the Downing Street gathering of carefully selected health leaders, he will have been disappointed.

While the atmosphere was polite and constructive, those invited used the opportunity to detail their concerns about how the health and social care bill could damage the NHS. They raised directly with the prime minister the same fears and uncertainties that the leaders of Britain’s nurses, doctors and other professions who want the bill scrapped would have mentioned – if they had been present.

 

Same old Tories? The public turns against NHS reform

 

The health bill could spell serious trouble for the Conservatives, as a poll shows declining support.

If you were in any doubt about how damaging the continued controversy over the NHS bill could be for the Conservatives, look no further than the Guardian/ICM poll out today.

The topline figures are typical: the Tories are on 36 (despite opening up a five point lead in the Guardian‘s poll last month), Labour are up two on last month at 37, while the Liberal Democrats are at 14. These results mirror those in the Populus/Times poll, also out today, which puts the Tories on 37, Labour on 39, and the Liberal Democrats on 11.

It certainly jumps out that the Tories have lost four percentage points in a single month in the ICM poll, although it looks as if that five-point lead was an outlier. The really interesting findings are on the NHS.

An outright majority of respondents — 52 per cent — believe that the health bill should be scrapped. Just 33 per cent believe that at this stage it is better to persevere with the reform, meaning that there is a 19 point margin in favour of axing the bill. This is reasonably consistent across social classes, gender, and regions.

 

 

 

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