NHS news review

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There’s been very little NHS news over the bank holiday weekend. Today’s NHS news is about cuts, the denial of services and drugs and an article by the Morning Star about how the listening exercise is a sham.

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.

Patients still paying for free cancer drugs – Health and beauty – Lifestyle – getreading – Reading Post

Health bosses in Berkshire have said it is “very disappointing” to hear many cancer patients in the area are paying for much needed medication which they could get for free.

Figures released from a National Cancer Patient Experience Survey show around 37 per cent of people surveyed who are receiving treatment for cancer with the Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust have not been told they are eligible for free prescriptions.

Since April 2009, cancer patients have been eligible for exemption certificates for medication relating to their illness, its treatment and the effects of the treatment.

However, according to the survey, conducted by the Department of Health last year, many cancer patients are still not aware of the free cancer treatment available to them, and are said to be cutting back on essential items such as food or heating to cover the cost.

But the boy’s father, Max, has now learned the request has been unsuccessful and has vowed to lodge an appeal. Without the drug, he says his son will suffer permanent mental and physical disabilities.

Effort to cut £150m from health budgets – East Hampshire – The News

NHS trusts across the area are looking to save a staggering £150m-plus this year, The News can reveal.

The trust which runs Portsmouth hospitals has already this week announced plans to axe up to 99 jobs in a bid to save £30.5m. But now NHS Hampshire – which funds healthcare across the county – has declared it needs to shave £105m off its budget.

NHS Portsmouth – which pays for city healthcare – has to save £15.2m, while the area’s ambulance service needs to save £6m.

The reason for the massive savings is down to reduced government spending. Also the health service as a whole was last year told it needed to make efficiency savings of £20bn by 2014.

Don’t swallow Lansley’s pre-election pause / Features / Home – Morning Star

Don’t believe the headlines about a pause or a so-called “listening exercise.” Cameron and Lansley are forging ahead with their plans to break up the NHS into a competitive market, and to slice off a growing share of the NHS budget for private providers.

The pause in the process is designed to give Lib Dems long enough to see their party massacred in the local elections and scare them into agreeing to support Lansley’s Health Bill for fear that they trigger the collapse of the coalition.

To front up the so-called “listening” exercise, an NHS Future Forum has been set up. It is stuffed with high-profile supporters of Lansley’s plans. All five of the GPs on the panel are among the minority of GPs who signed up for Lansley’s suggested commissioning consortiums. The whole forum is under the chairmanship of Professor Steve Field, who controversially supported Lansley’s white paper back in July and has since been replaced as president of the Royal College of GPs by Dr Clare Gerada, who has criticised much of the Lansley plan.

The forum on “choice and competition” will be led by Sir Stephen Bubb, a one-time Labour councillor and now at the head the Association of Chief Executives of Voluntary Organisations.

Bubb is a vigorous advocate of competition and greater private-sector involvement in delivering healthcare. He led a challenge to Labour’s attempts to designate the NHS as preferred provider of community health services.

Other doctors, trust bosses, primary care trust and strategic health authority bosses and senior council officers among the 40 hand-picked appointees on the forum are likely to be influenced by their career aspirations. They are unlikely to listen to any articulate critics of the Lansley plan.

The whole process has been set up to waste a month, to give the impression of responding to public opinion – and then to press through the key elements of the plan with little if any actual change.

There is no indication that the principal objections raised at the Lib Dem conference a few weeks ago have been taken on board by the Tories, not least because the suggestion that the private sector can somehow be prevented from “cherry-picking” the most profitable services from the NHS is pure fantasy.

Woman to pay thousands for brain tumour op which NHS wouldn’t fund

A WOMAN will this week spend £16,500 undergoing surgery on three brain tumours which the NHS refused to fund.

Lynn Payne, 62, of Radcliffe-on-Trent, was diagnosed with the tumours in February after she lost feeling to her right leg.

Following the diagnosis she applied for funding to have the tumours treated with radioactive gamma rays.

But the East Midlands Specialised Commissioning Group turned down her request as did her primary care trust, NHS Notts County, forcing her to pay £16,500 to have the surgery done privately.

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