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Today’s NHS news features the interesting case of a huge US health care provider UnitedHealth selling its business undertaking of Camden GP practices to The Practice Plc. The public clearly have absolutely no influence over such private business transactions which will increase under increasing privatisation.

Cameron says Socialists have no sense of humour. A doctor claims he was misrepresented by Cameron and accuses Cameron of playing football.

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.

Nursing union hits out at Teesside NHS trust ‘cuts’ – Local News – News – Gazette Live

A NURSING union has hit out at what it claims are proposed cuts to frontline services at Two Teesside hospital trusts.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) aims to highlight how health reforms could result in cuts to jobs and frontline services.

Its website Frontline First outlined how South Tees NHS Foundation Trust, which manages James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and The Friarage in Northallerton, “cut” 14 cardiology beds and a 30-bed surgical ward containing specialities including ear nose and throat, and ophthalmology.

The RCN also stated the trust had to save £20m over four years. However, the trust said the process of removing cardiology beds was completed last year with no redundancies, although some nursing staff were redeployed to other wards.

Article > MPs ask: post-NHS reform, who will be accountable for health spending?

MPs have told the government that even though its NHS reforms are still at an early stage, they need certainty about who to hold accountable for health spending once they are complete.

“It is vital that the Department [of Health] creates robust accountability structures so that Parliament and the public can property follow the taxpayers’ pound and hold those responsible to account,” Margaret Hodge, chair of the Commons Committee of Public Accounts said yesterday, as the panel published its latest Landscape Review of the NHS. “Key questions have yet to be addressed,” added the Labour MP for Barking.

In particular, she said, the Committee is concerned that the Department has yet to develop a high-quality risk management protocol for either the commissioning or providing bodies. Health officials have told the MPs that certain health trusts and GP practices still have some way to go to achieving Foundation Trust status or becoming commissioning consortia, and the panel stresses that the Department must have effective systems in place to deal with failure so that, whatever happens, the interests of both patients and taxpayers are protected.

Camden patients ‘in dark’ over UnitedHealth surgeries sale – American giant sells GP services to rival Practice plc | Camden New Journal

PATIENTS registered at three Camden GP practices sold by an American health giant to a rival company last week were not told about the changes.

UnitedHealth, who had boasted of how well they had run the surgeries since a controversial takeover in 2008, said it was not up to them to inform thousands of unknowing patients of the transaction.

A UnitedHealth spokes­woman said: “It’s not one for us. This is a simple transfer of ownership and patients will be seeing the same doctors and nurses.”

But the sale to The Practice Plc was exactly the kind of move that NHS campaigners warned of when they protested against UnitedHealth’s initial introduction to the borough three years ago.

They warned that patients would lose a say in how their surgeries were run and would be unable to scrutinise performance.

The UnitedHealth UK surgery sell-off was introduced to Thursday’s Town Hall health scrutiny committee meeting agenda “as a matter of urgency” following a story in the New Journal last week.

Labour councillor Adam Harrison told the meeting: “I must express an interest as I am a patient at the Brunswick [Medical Centre].”

When asked if he was informed of the change before it was agreed, Cllr Harrison replied: “No, I certainly was not.”

Chairman of the committee, Liberal Democrat councillor John Bryant, said: “We are in a no man’s land.”

The panel has asked for clarification from NHS bosses on how contracts are managed and transferred apparently behind closed doors.

David Cameron: socialists have no sense of humour – Telegraph

The Prime Minister was accused of sexism by Labour after his Commons put-down to Angela Eagle at Prime Minister’s Questions.

Mimicking a catchphrase used by Michael Winner, the film director, on a television insurance advertisement, he repeatedly told her to “calm down, dear”, prompting calls for him to apologise.

But yesterday he brushed off the row and made light of the remarks.

He said: “I don’t know what it is about some people on the Left. It seems that when they put the socialism in, they take the sense of humour out.

BBC News – Cameron accused of using NHS as ‘political football’

An ex-Labour MP who David Cameron claimed supported his health reforms has accused the prime minister of using the NHS as a “political football”.

Dr Howard Stoate said his views about GPs powers were “taken out of context”.

He was at the centre of a political row on Wednesday after Mr Cameron told Labour MP Angela Eagle “to calm down dear” at Prime Minister’s Questions.

He made the comment after Ms Eagle sought to correct remarks he made about Dr Stoate in the Commons.

Response: Calm down, David Cameron – and get your facts right at PMQs | Howard Stoate | Comment is free | The Guardian

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Calm down, David Cameron – and get your facts right at PMQs

The prime minister distorted my views. He should stop using the health service as a political football

David Cameron’s comments to MP Angela Eagle to “calm down, dear” caused a furore during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday (Cameron accused of sexism over ‘calm down dear’ Commons taunt, 28 April). But along with many others I was more concerned about inaccuracies in the point he was trying to make at the time.

He quoted a comment I made in a Guardian Response column (GPs do not fear the chance to reshape services, they welcome it, 12 January) in which I said many GPs were enthusiastic about the chance to help shape services for patients. I was referring to GPs in my own borough of Bexley, south London, and qualified this by saying GPs in the borough had a head start, building on their experience of commissioning over the last four years.

Taken out of context, and interspersed with condescending comments to backbench MPs, Cameron’s quote is entirely misleading. As you report, “Eagle picked him up when he started to claim that a former Labour MP who supports the health reforms, Dr Howard Stoate, had been defeated at the election by the Tories.” I was not defeated by a Conservative candidate – I did not in fact stand.

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David Cameron was evasive and engaged in distraction at Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday. I’ve started seriously wondering wether he’s intellect-challenged.

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.

Fight the cuts – strike, demonstrate, stand against cuts | The Socialist 27 April 2011

On 5 May over 9,500 council seats will be contested across England, as well as elections to the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the AV referendum.

Millions of people will see these elections as an opportunity to express their hatred for the axe-wielding Tories and Lib Dems. However, while there is no mass party through which working class people can effectively fight the cuts, Labour is likely to benefit from this desire to punish the government. But this will not be done with great enthusiasm – Labour’s slogan of “cuts too far too fast” is not a rallying call and their record of implementing brutal cuts in local government means huge suffering.

But as the working class in Britain begins to flex its muscles, the need for an independent political voice is increasingly urgent.

Hull and East Yorkshire hospitals to axe 300 beds under cuts

HUNDREDS of hospital beds are to be cut at the region’s main hospitals as health officials battle to save millions of pounds.

Hull And East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital in Cottingham, has 1,514 beds on more than 50 wards.

The move will cut 300 beds by closing two wards per year for the next five years and comes as the trust has to make £95 million in efficiency savings by 2015.

It could also see the trust scaling back its estate, knocking down empty wards and cutting back on costs.

Trust chief executive Phil Morley said reducing the number of acute beds by 300 will save £10 million.

He warned the move was a reflection of the challenges and pressures facing the NHS nationally, not just in East Yorkshire.

David Cameron’s patronising putdown | Politics | The Guardian

The Chamber is well used to extraordinary displays of boorishness during prime minister’s questions but even hardened MPs were taken aback by David Cameron’s performance on Wednesday, when (to recap, in case you have somehow missed a moment that within minutes was swamping the Twittersphere and within an hour had spawned nearly 400 news stories) he was challenged by Angela Eagle, shadow chief secretary to the treasury.

It was not a particularly earth-shattering challenge – he had said former Labour MP Howard Stoate (whom he was enlisting in his increasingly ragged defence of Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms) had been defeated by a Tory at the last election; she was pointing out, in the vociferous way required when a roomful of supposed adults is shouting at each other like sleep-deprived six-year-olds, that Stoate had in fact retired, rather than been defeated, in order to return to his job as a GP. “Calm down, dear,” said Cameron, failing only to pat her gently on the head as he said it. “Calm down. Calm down and listen to the doctor.”

In terms of levels of offensiveness, where to start? The imputation that Eagle, being a woman, was just being hysterical, over-emotional? The further imputation that nothing she said was therefore worth listening to? The belittling “dear”? The arrogant superiority? The paternal order to listen not just to him, but to “the doctor”, these men who know best? Frankly, he only failed to pat her gently on the head.

“Calm down,” he said yet again, in case anyone had missed it. They most definitely hadn’t: even the Daily Telegraph, which could not resist an en passant dig at the “frighteningly feminist” Eagle, noted that: “The wind whistled around the Commons chamber in the seconds after he said it.” There was some laughter: George Osborne, unsurprisingly, guffawed, but Nick Clegg, sitting to the prime minister’s right, went completely, unsmilingly still, as though by doing so he could somehow will himself invisible, or at least somewhere else.


Cameron launches Commons attack on Labour’s NHS policy in Wales – Politics News – Politics – News – WalesOnline

CONSERVATIVE leader David Cameron yesterday used Prime Minister’s Questions to launch repeated attacks on Labour’s plans for the NHS in Wales.

Mr Cameron waded into one of the most contentious issues in the Assembly election when he claimed that a Labour-led Government would leave patients worse off than those in England.

He launched the assault on the party led in the Assembly by Carwyn Jones during a question session which threatened to descend into farce when he appeared to tell a female Labour MP to “calm down, dear”.

The heated exchanges came after Labour Cardiff West MP Kevin Brennan asked if Conservative Health Secretary Andrew Lansley was safe in his job.

His plans for sweeping NHS reform in England are now subject to a “pause” and have been emphatically rejected in a no confidence vote by the Royal College of Nursing.

Pulse – Advertising standards investigate promotion of NHS reforms

Advertising standards authorities have launched an investigation into the Department of Health’s promotion of the NHS reforms during their ‘listening exercise’, after they received a number of complaints about a patient leaflet on the health bill.

The pamphlet ‘Working together for a stronger NHS’ was published earlier this month to explain the rationale behind the Government’s NHS reforms, but after a number of complaints – including from one from John McTernan, former political secretary to Tony Blair – the Advertising Standards Authority have launched an investigation.

The leaflet suggests that the NHS perform better if it has more competition between providers of healthcare, including private companies.

The Department of Health says the leaflet is based on ‘a wide range of reputable sources’, but Mr McTernan claims that the information presented in the leaflet is misleading.

Government must learn from PFI mistakes, says NAO | Healthcare Network | Guardian Professional

The National Audit Office (NAO) has criticised central government for pushing local state sector bodies, including NHS trusts, into using the private finance initiative (PFI) rather than other methods of finance.

In a new report, the central government watchdog concurs with parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, which in January noted that some organisations chose the PFI route due to a lack of other options.

It said the committee had seen “no clear evidence to conclude whether PFI has been demonstrably better or worse value for money for housing and hospitals than other procurement options,” adding: “In many cases local authorities and NHS trusts chose the PFI route because the departments offered no realistic funding alternative. This led to the committee’s recommendation that departments should prepare and publish whole-programme evaluations.”

The NAO adds that under national accounting rules, privately financed projects will often still be off the government’s balance sheet, which it says may act as an incentive to use PFI.

The report says that lessons from the experience of using PFI schemes can be applied to other types of procurement and help government achieve major cost savings, but it warns that Whitehall must do more to act as an “intelligent customer”.


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A report by the Public Accounts Committee has generated a lot of news. The report raises concerns that there is no healthcare provision in the case of (financial) failure, that ‘reforms’ risk demanded ‘savings’ (cuts) and that they risk patient care. The British Medical Association (BMA) comments on the report.

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.

GPs ‘may exploit health reforms to boost pay’ – Health News, Health & Families – The Independent

GPs may demand more money before they agree to participate in the Government’s health reforms, ministers have been warned.

Under plans to alter the way the NHS is run, family doctors, many of whom are already earning over £100,000 a year, will be required to form “consortiums” to commission care for their patients.

But ministers have yet to reach agreement with the doctors’ union, the British Medical Association, on making the necessary changes to GPs’ contracts to allow the reforms to go ahead. NHS employers have warned this could cost the Government millions of pounds more in unbudgeted costs.

The last time the government renegotiated the GP contract in 2004, it cost £1.76 billion more than was predicted in its first three years while GP productivity fell. “The last time the government negotiated with the GPs it was quite a horrendous exercise,” said David Stout, deputy chief executive of the NHS Confederation.

“What you have to remember is the GPs are very good at negotiation and the Government’s problem is this: the legislation says that all GPs have to be in these new GP consortiums – but it is not in their contracts. Either the Government chooses to impose this on them or they have to renegotiate and that could be very tricky.”

Fears for NHS services if providers go bust | Society | The Guardian

MPs are demanding that the government urgently put in place plans to ensure vital health services continue if a hospital or other provider goes bust under its NHS reforms.

In a report published on Wednesday, the public accounts committee says the proposals for the NHS do not include details of what will happen if providers fail in the new market model of healthcare provision.

Members of the committee dismissed claims by the most senior civil servant in the Department of Health, Una O’Brien, that the government was “not planning for failure”, and condemned the lack of contingency planning, suggesting that the proposals now pose an intolerable risk to value for money and quality of services.

Richard Bacon, the Conservative MP for South Norfolk, said: “In any organisation as large and complex as the NHS, things can and do go wrong, and the Department of Health has yet to establish a robust framework for dealing with failure in the system. The department must not only understand the danger of either a provider or a commissioner going ‘belly up’, but also toughen up its contingency plans, drawing upon strong, effective and clear chains of governance and accountability throughout the new NHS model.”

NHS Restucturing At Time Of Financial Crisis Is Risky – British Medical Association Comment On PAC Report

In a report published on today, the Committee of Public Accounts has warned that the reorganisation of the NHS in England could “make the challenge of achieving savings for reinvestment even tougher.”

Commenting on the report, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said:

“Having already been set the massive challenge of cutting costs by £20 billion, the NHS in England is now facing the most fundamental reorganisation in its history. The Public Accounts Committee is right to highlight the risks posed by such a massive restructuring at a time of financial crisis.

“However, it is not just the timing, but also the direction of travel of these reforms that will cause problems. We share the concerns of the PAC that the consequences of increasing competition in the NHS have not been fully addressed. ‘Market failures’ in healthcare have far more serious consequences than in other industries – and may have little connection with quality of care, or even patient demand.”

BBC News – ‘Radical’ NHS shake-up may jeopardise patient care

The planned shake-up of the NHS in England that will put GPs in charge of buying in services could risk patient care, warns a group of influential MPs.

The Public Accounts Committee says pushing through the changes while seeking £20bn in efficiency savings may damage front-line services.

The concerns follow those of others, including Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s close adviser Norman Lamb.

BBC News – Berkshire mental health beds move to be investigated

A council is to investigate a provisional decision by the NHS to leave east Berkshire without mental health in-patient services.

It would mean patients from Slough and Maidenhead having to travel up to 20 miles for beds at Reading’s purpose-built Prospect Park Hospital.

Three ideas were consulted on but the NHS trust said a plan to build a new facility in Slough was too expensive.

Slough council has set up a working group to look into the decision.

Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, which is trying to save £12m over the next three years, said it was working on a plan to put aside £100,000 a year for travel costs.

Permanent Revolution – MARCH TO SAVE THE NHS

Kill Lansley’s Bill


Tuesday 17 May

5.30pm Assemble UCH Gower St

6pm March to Whitehall

Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Bill threatens to break up our health service and hand it to private healthcare companies.

The Bill would open up the entire health service to the private sector and as private companies calculate how much profit is to be made, 50000 NHS jobs are being cut and front line services are under threat.

The government has now been forced to retreat in the face of a huge groundswell of nationwide opposition. Cameron and Clegg had to intervene to “pause, listen, reflect and improve” the plans, but it is clear they only plan minor cosmetic changes.

We have to seize this opportunity to step up public opposition to demand the Bill is dropped and to force the government to really listen. Our NHS is precious and these plans will destroy it. We appeal to everyone to join us on 17 May and to speak out against these threats in what ever way they can.


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.


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NHS news: This posting covers yesterday’s news. I’ll do a further NHS news review for today.

Three Labour MPs – Grahame Morris, Diane Abbott and Michael Meacher – object to the bill to destroy the NHS, Conservative pro-‘reforms’ Dr. Jonathan Munday warns “I am now getting seriously worried that the political pressure on Lansley is such that the government may abort GP commissioning entirely…” and cuts.

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.

Nothing more than a hollow political stunt / Features / Home – Morning Star

Radical plans to shake up the NHS have been put on hold for what has been spun as a natural break and an opportunity to “pause, listen, reflect and improve” the Health and Social Care Bill.

This cynical step by the coalition’s leaders is a strategy destined to fail.

The prospect of Andrew Lansley’s flagship policy receiving royal assent must now be constrained by the fact that minor tweaks will not change the thrust and direction of travel charted by the Bill.

Lansley’s plans are not simply another reorganisation but a root-and-branch upheaval, which over time will lay the foundations for private health care to compete against in-house NHS provision throughout the entire health service.

Much has been made of the need to make new GP-led commissioning consortiums more inclusive and accountable.

As the Bill currently stands, primary care trusts will be replaced by statutory private bodies with GPs acting as figureheads.

These bodies will be able to conduct their affairs behind closed doors.

Freedom of information requests will not apply to them and there will be no legislative safeguards against conflicts of interests between commissioning and providing NHS services.

Grahame Morris is Labour MP for Easington and a member of the health select committee.

Cost of change ‘out of control’ / Britain / Home – Morning Star

An influential group of MPs fuelled the row over the coalition’s NHS shake-up today by warning that ministers have “no control” over many of the costs.

Pushing through the changes at the same time as seeking £20 billion in “efficiency savings” by 2014/15 could also put patient care at risk, the Commons public accounts committee warned.

It raised the concerns in a report into the unpopular changes, which are opposed by unions and the public and threaten to drive a wedge between the coalition partners.

One of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s closest advisers, Norman Lamb, has hinted he could quit unless implementation of the package – which would put GPs in charge of commissioning services – is slowed down.

Committee chairwoman Margaret Hodge said: “Whilst the reforms could complement the imperative of achieving £20bn efficiency gains, the reorganisation might also distract those responsible for making the savings while safeguarding standards of patient care.

“Furthermore, if the Department of Health estimate of the one-off costs associated with reorganisation turns out to have been too low, it will make the challenge of achieving savings for reinvestment even tougher.”

Lansley accused on NHS reforms ‘pause’: ePolitix.com

The health secretary has faced criticisms from Labour MPs over his pledge to “pause and listen” to concerns over planned reforms the NHS, ahead of next week’s local elections.

Shadow health minister Diane Abbott asked how the public are expected to take the discussions and the listening exercise on the Health and Social Care Bill “seriously”.

Speaking during departmental questions in the Commons, Andrew Lansley said the government is united in its commitment to strengthen the NHS.

Abbott told MPs the pause was merely “a device” to get the coalition through the May elections, with the health secretary determined to “get away with as little substantive change” as possible.

Oldham News | News Headlines | Meacher blasts NHS changes – Chronicle Online

Oldham West and Royton MP Michael Meacher has written to health secretary Andrew Lansley to oppose what he describes as lunatic changes to the NHS which he believes are unconstitutional.

He said that abolishing local Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) — which run community health services — will have “significant detrimental consequences on patient care”.

And he believes that it puts the whole provision of health care at risk.

The change is part of the move giving GPs rather than PCTs the power to commission community health services.

As part of the transition, a temporary Greater Manchester PCT serving around three million people will be in place by June.

In his letter, Mr Meacher writes: “These arrangements have been made with no consultation at any level and, for the first time in NHS history, there will be no decision-making at local level.

Protest to save NHS is gathering momentum|30Apr11|Socialist Worker

NHS campaigners across London are in a buoyant mood as they prepare for a major demonstration in May against the government’s health service “reforms”.

Prime minister David Cameron and his health secretary Andrew Lansley are still reeling from a stream of attacks on their health bill.

And last week around 40 activists met to plan the next phase of their assault.

“It was a brilliant meeting. Full of life and lots of people committed to making the protest a success,” said Jordan, an occupational therapist and Unison union rep at Hackney’s Homerton hospital.

“Trade unionists from my part of east London agreed to distribute 10,000 postcards for the demo that my union branch is sponsoring. By this weekend we’d already given out 2,000 of them.

Step back from NHS, Tory boy|30Apr11|Socialist Worker

A doctor who runs a sparsely-supported campaign in support of the government’s health “reforms” has been revealed as a leading Tory—and the head of a body that expects to profit from the changes.

Dr Jonathan Munday, the former Conservative mayor of Kensington and Chelsea, is leading an operation to rescue Andrew Lansley’s health bill.

He also runs a GP commissioning consortia, Victoria, found in the new NHS “cluster” of north west London.

In a leaked email, he told the heads of GP consortia that the political climate against reforms is “getting worse by the day”.

“I am now getting seriously worried that the political pressure on Lansley is such that the government may abort GP commissioning entirely or, almost worse, may so water it down and constrain it so that GP consortia will have the worst of all worlds—a lot of effort, political responsibility for any cuts but no ability to wrest initiatives or make needed reforms,” he moaned.

Southport Hospital axes first of three wards – Skelmersdale Advertiser

A MERSEYSIDE hospital will close a 28-bed ward as part of a £30m cuts plan.

Ward 7b, at Southport and Formby District General Hospital, will shut before the end of May.

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust said the move would save £1m, with health bosses insisting that patient care would not be compromised.

The trust must save £8.5m this year and £30m over a four-year period. It has already announced plans to cut 125 jobs.

Massive NHS cuts will help save £77million (From Basildon Recorder)

NHS services will face huge cuts as health chiefs admit they have to save an unprecedented £77.6 million over the coming financial year.

Measures are being drawn up to scale back yet more services and change the way patients are treated – effectively meaning fewer people will be referred to hospital.

Millions will be sliced off budgets for elderly care, end of life services, hospital referrals and medication, raising fears healthcare in south Essex will be cut to the bone.

The health trust which serves Basildon and Thurrock, has now merged with its counterpart in Southend and Castle Point to make savings.

Together they saved £52million in order to end the 2010/11 financial year in the black – but this was as a result of a swathe of cuts to services being made. Now more are looming.

Despite having a combined budget of £1.2billion for the coming financial year, health bosses say their costs are rising at an alarming rate.

They must save a total of £117million over the next four years, with £77.6million having to be saved in this financial year –- 2011/2012.

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