NHS news review

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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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