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Andrew Lansley and the Con-Dems to wash their hands of the NHS.


Conservative election poster 2010

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

Lansley will ‘wash his hands’ of NHS if Health Bill passed, lawyers warn | GPonline.com by Susie Sell

The health secretary will be able to ‘wash his hands’ of the NHS if the Health Bill becomes law, legal experts have warned.

Legal advice funded by campaign group 38 Degrees found that the Health Bill will take away the health secretary’s duty to provide a national health service through a ‘hands-off clause’.

This will ‘severely curtail’ the health secretary’s ability to influence the delivery of NHS care and to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare possible, it warned.

It said: ‘The Bill will make it impossible for the secretary of state to direct that certain services are available and difficult for the secretary of state to step in if these groups deliver poor healthcare to the local community.’

Related: Who wants responsibility for NHS delivery? Not Andrew Lansley | Alan Maynard | Comment is free | The Guardian

Labour attacks NHS bill amendments | Society | guardian.co.uk Randeep Ramesh

More than three quarters of the 1,000 ministerial amendments to the government’s flagship NHS bill involve changing the name of the new GP bodies to purchase treatment on behalf of the patients, it emerged on Tuesday.

Until this summer, the government had been pushing the idea that family doctors would form “consortia” to buy care. However, David Cameron’s team of experts, the Future Forum, advocated a name change since “consortia” gave the impression that GPs would be too powerful in the coalition’s new look NHS.

Instead GP consortia are to be called “clinical commissioning groups” and will have governing bodies with at least one nurse and one specialist doctor.

The result, say critics, is a bureaucratic nightmare with a slew of meaningless amendments which could obscure some potentially disastrous changes to the NHS bill, already the longest and most complex in the NHS’s history. MPs are to vote on the final report stage in the Commons next week.

Since the government only allowed two weeks to vote on the new bill earlier this summer, many say detailed scrutiny will be needed in the Lords to unearth the full implications for patients. Labour believe only one in 10 changes will be “new” amendments.

NHS sheds 1500 jobs in just three months | Scotland | STV News

(Scotland) The NHS workforce shrunk by more than 1500 in three months, with further reductions expected over the year, according to new figures.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said any reduction, particularly involving nursing staff, will cause concern but good progress was being made to cut the number of high-earning managers.

The number of staff fell by 1589 to 155,312 between June and March, equal to 1%. The number of nursing and midwifery staff decreased by 569 to 65,856.

The SNP’s political opponents said the figures show cuts to nurses despite election pledges to protect health spending.

Unions campaign to save NHS – PCS Comment – PCS

The current health and social care bill talks about ‘liberating provision of NHS services’ – Tory code for allowing the market into the much-loved public service.

PCS’s policy-making annual conferences have regularly voted in support of the NHS and against privatisation – so the union urges members to take action to support the campaign against the bill.

The Trades Union Congress – the umbrella body for British unions – has set up a web page called All Together for the NHS.

The TUC wants people to do three things:

• Upload a picture to be used in a giant photo mosaic as part of an on-line vigil.

• Place a poster in your window in the run up to the third reading of the bill in early September.

• Lobby a random member of the House of Lords to defend the NHS when they discuss the bill. Use this link to find your Lord or Lady.

MPs Brace For Email Onslaught As 38 Degrees Target Health And Social Care BillDina Rickman

MPs are bracing for another onslaught of emails as online activist group 38 degrees launches its latest campaign, this time targeting the government’s controversial NHS reform proposals.

The group say despite changes to the Health and Social Care Bill the NHS could still be subject to European competition laws, following the advice of two lawyers.

38 Degrees say the advice shows “private health companies will be able to take new NHS commissioning groups to court if they don’t win contracts”.

They also claim Andrew Lansley will no longer have a legal duty to provide a health service. “We can expect increases in postcode lotteries – and less ways to hold the government to account if the service deteriorates.”

Now they are urging their supporters to email their MP – particularly if they will be supporting the health and social care bill.

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Pressure Group 38degrees commissioned legal advice on the Liberal-Democrat – CONservative government’s Destroy the NHS Bill.

The legal advice confirms that the Bill will remove the duty on the Health Secretary to be responsible for providing a health service and that the NHS will be subject to competition law which, in turn, will promote private interests.

The proposed cut in legal aid to patients will cost the NHS very dearly.

CONservative Prime Minister David Cameron claims that “the whole health profession is on board for what is now being done”. It’s a deliberately misleading statement since much of the medical profession actively oppose his plans to destroy the NHS.

Conservative election poster 2010

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

NHS bill ‘will let Andrew Lansley wash his hands of health service’ | Society | The Guardian

Legal opinion funded by campaigners suggests ‘hands-off’ clause will remove the health secretary’s accountability

The health secretary will be able to “wash his hands” of the NHS after forthcoming legislation which will take away his duty to provide a national health service, according to legal advice funded by campaigners.

The legal opinion, commissioned and paid for by members of the 38 Degrees website, justifies the widespread public concern about the government’s health reforms, in spite of Andrew Lansley‘s assurances that he has listened and responded to criticisms, they say.

The independent legal team says the health and social reform bill removes the health secretary’s responsibility for NHS provision through a “hands-off” clause designed to give autonomy to commissioning groups.

Now lawyers move in to make a killing off Lansley’s NHS reforms – Health News, Health & Families – The Independent

The Health Secretary’s promise to prevent price competition in the NHS as part of the Government’s health reforms is meaningless and could be challenged in the courts, senior lawyers have warned.

Under the reformed Health and Social Care Bill, being put through Parliament by Andrew Lansley, regulators will no longer have a duty to promote price competition between public and private health providers.

But yesterday lawyers suggested that the concession would have no practical effect as EU competition and procurement law will force trusts to consider the price and value of services when commissioning or face challenges in the courts.

This could lead to significant fines or the cancelling of contracts – with a knock-on effect on patient care – if challenged by companies that lose out on contracts. It will also, the advice suggests, cost the new GP consortiums, set up to replace primary care trusts, millions of pounds in lawyers’ fees to ensure that their commissioning decisions are legally sustainable.

“The Government has simply failed to grapple with the frontline issues in procurement [and] has wholly underestimated the increasing rather than diminishing complexity in the area and has had no or perhaps little regard to the administrative and financial burdens arising from the regime,” the legal opinion concludes.

“The fact, however, that the Government has amended the Bill to remove… the duty to promote competition as an end in itself is arguably futile since the very fact that domestic and European competition law applies to the NHS arguably itself results in the promotion of competition since that is its aim.”

The opinion was commissioned by the campaign group 38 Degrees from lawyers at the Doughty Street and Monckton Chambers. It will be passed on to MPs debating the Bill, which is currently going through the House of Commons.

Its conclusions are likely to concern senior Liberal Democrats ahead of the party’s conference next month – as the removal of the competition clause was trumpeted by the party as a key concession won from the Conservatives.

Any suggestion that it is meaningless will anger activists and lead to calls for further reform to the legislation.

The report also concludes that if the Bill becomes law the duty of the Government to provide a “national” health service will have been diluted and it will reduce what is currently the “unfettered power” of the Health Secretary to impose his or her will on the NHS.

The legal advice adds that in the “clear intention of the Bill to give consortia autonomy from the Secretary of State, there is a real risk of an increase in the ‘postcode lottery’ nature of the delivery of some services, depending on the decisions made by consortia in relation to these subsections. And the intention of the Bill is that there will be very little that the Secretary of State can do about this in practice.”

Patients’ legal aid cuts will cost NHS tens of millions – Health News, Health & Families – The Independent

The Government’s plans to slash the soaring legal aid bill threaten to cost the NHS millions and exclude many victims of medical negligence from justice, the National Health Service’s own lawyers have warned.

The man in charge of managing an NHS negligence bill that last year topped £1bn for the first time, told the Justice Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, that his attempts to stop the state bankrolling medical cases would be counterproductive – and would “undoubtedly cause NHS legal costs to escalate massively”.

Steve Walker, chief executive of the NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA), cautioned that the move would push alleged victims into the arms of lawyers offering “no win, no fee” deals, which would leave hospitals with hugely inflated bills every time they lost a case. The deals, also known as conditional fee agreements (CFAs), have been on the increase in recent years, with payments to claimant lawyers amounting to 76 per cent of the £257m outlay on legal costs for clinical negligence claims closed last year.

Mr Walker also suggested the move would lead to a conflict of interest between lawyers and clients seeking a fair settlement – amounting to “a danger that some very seriously injured and vulnerable claimants may be prejudiced by the desire of their lawyers to recover their costs”. Claimants in some of the most serious cases, including brain-damaged children and adults, could struggle to strike suitable CFAs – and face prohibitive charges including hefty “after the event” insurance premiums.

But the warnings, delivered in an official response to the Ministry of Justice, appear to have made little difference to the final Bill, which will be debated in Parliament when MPs return next month.

Pressure groups and the legal profession last night said the NHSLA’s comments revealed officials’ deep concerns over the dangers posed by Mr Clarke’s proposals, and they condemned his failure to amend the Bill to take account of the warnings.

Peter Walsh, of the charity Action against Medical Accidents, said: “All that will happen here is that Ken Clarke will be able to say he has saved a few millions on the legal aid budget, but elsewhere in Whitehall the NHS will be paying tens of millions more. At the same time, dozens of people will be excluded from justice and the NHS will not be learning from its mistakes.”

This is Devon | Cameron defends health reforms during Cornwall visit

David Cameron has defended controversial proposals for a radical shake-up of the NHS, defiantly stating “the whole health profession is on board for what is now being done”.

The Prime Minister yesterday issued a passionate broadside in response to St Ives Liberal Democrat MP and Health Select Committee member Andrew George, who this week called on opponents to dig their heels in and derail service changes over concerns the NHS would become a profit-making machine at the expense of patient care.


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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The Liberal-Denocrat CONservative coalition government is driving GPs away from the NHS. 

Conservative election poster 2010

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

The perfect storm for early GP retirement | From the Editors | GPonline.com Blogs

Earlier this week GPonline.com reported that GPs are beginning to take early retirement because of confusion around NHS reforms. The results of our poll on the issue show that 75% of you believe the Health Bill is leading GPs to retire early.

However, it is not just NHS reform that is causing GPs to consider early retirement. As the comments below our story show, changes the government is making to the NHS pension scheme are also likely to be a major factor in any decision.

Pension contributions look set to increase at a time when income for most GPs remains static (or is even falling because of rising expenses). There is also concern about the impact of the government proposals on the final value of any pension.

GPs are working harder now than ever before. And, with uncertainty about the future because of the Health Bill, worries about lack of resources in the NHS due to spending constraints in the coming years and little prospect of any increase in pay, it’s no surprise that many GPs are thinking about hanging up their stethoscopes early.

Add to this the proposed changes to public sector pensions, which means that some doctors may be financially better off if they retire now, and the government is creating a perfect storm that makes early retirement seem the only sensible option to many GPs of a certain age.

UNISON Press | Press Releases Front Page

Health unions are united in their opposition to Government plans to make NHS workers pay more, work longer for less pension.

While sector talks continue, the unions have set up a campaign group to coordinate their responses and to prepare for the possibility of industrial action. Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health said:

“No union wants this, but our members are facing cuts in jobs, a pay freeze at a time of rising inflation, increasing workloads and stress, as well as the potential break-up of the NHS as we know it – in England at least.

“Now the Government is proposing an average 50% increase in pension contribution rates (more for higher paid staff) and staff will have to work longer to get less.”

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Apologies that I’ve not done a NHS news review for a few days – I’ve had hardware/networking problems.

Lansley has called for health care apps – I wonder if Pepsi, KentuckyFriedMSG and McShit will be contributing any advising on healthy eating …

UNISON protests wealthy private patients leapfrogging in the NHS
UNISON protests wealthy private patients leapfrogging in the NHS

UNISON have been protesting about the introduction of a two-tier NHS. This is clearly an issue of privatising the NHS.

Conservative election poster 2010

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

NHS invites software developers to create healthcare apps – 8/22/2011 – Computer Weekly

The Department of Health is calling on software developers to create apps for use by the NHS.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley wants medical professionals and software developers to come up with ideas for “apps and maps” that would “help patients make informed decisions about their care.”

Protest to stop private patients queue-jumping / Britain / Home – Morning Star

A protest was staged outside the Department of Health today to call for controversial health reforms to be ditched as they allow private patients to “leapfrog” to the front of NHS waiting lists.

Health union Unison, which organised the protest, warned that a lethal cocktail of economic uncertainty, spiralling waiting lists and budget deficits meant it was the “worst possible time” to be pressing ahead with the Health and Social Care Bill, which will bring in a major, untried, untested reorganisation.

The demonstration saw an acrobat dressed as a fat-cat businessman leapfrog a “living” NHS queue straight into the arms of a waiting “surgeon.”

Unison head of health Christina McAnea said: “If the Health and Social Care Bill goes ahead, the outlook for the NHS and patients looks bleak.

“The government’s polices have already led to NHS patients waiting longer, often in great pain, for their operations.

“The Bill will make matters worse by taking the cap off the number of private patients that hospitals are allowed to treat.

“It will be an enormous temptation for cash-strapped hospitals to boost their income by prioritising paying patients, pushing NHS patients even further down the ever-spiralling waiting lists.

“Even 14 of the elite group of foundation trusts ended the last financial year in deficit, which is a grim warning for the future of NHS finances.

“The economic uncertainty and budget deficits add to this lethal cocktail and it should be obvious to the government that now is not the time to bring in this massive, damaging NHS reorganisation.”

Unison said that latest statistics revealed NHS waiting times were increasing, with those waiting six months or more for treatment up by 61 per cent in the last year, while the government’s drive for £20 billion in efficiency savings was said to be leading to ward closures, staff cuts and rationing across the country.

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Conservative election poster 2010

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

BMA Exposes Government’s Unjustifiable Changes in Healthy Pension Scheme | News Tonight

In a shocking revelation, it has come to light that the controversial Government plans to reform NHS pensions could put an extra £230,000 burden on GPs over their career. It has been reported that BMA forecasts have revealed that the NHS pension reforms made by the Government earlier this year are already raiding GPs up to £125,000 each over the course of their lifetimes.

Further, GPs will lose £124,500 by the time they reach 85, if the proposal produced in April, involving shift from use of the retail price index to the lower consumer price index to uplift NHS pensions, is passed.

Reacting to the unjustifiable changes to the financially healthy pension scheme, Dr. Hamish Meldrum, chair of the BMA council, said: “his isn’t about affordability; it’s about the Treasury looking for yet another quick hit from public sector workers. Doctors pursuing a career as a consultant or GP will have to pay significantly higher contributions in return for a much reduced pension at retirement”.

Anger as ‘ludicrious’ referral gateway rejects up to a quarter of GP requests – newsarticle-content – Pulse

Exclusive GPs have been forced to formally complain to PCTs over a series of technical and administrative problems with referral management centres, with one practice claiming a quarter of its referrals have been rejected.

In NHS West Essex, GPs have been left frustrated by rejections and the insistence of administrators that referrals are resubmitted, sometimes several times, without having been triaged by its Central Referral Service.

Examples of rejections include a referral to a surgeon for diagnosis and removal of a lump refused because a minor surgery proforma was not attached, and a gynaecology referral refused ‘in error’.

A GP in Uttlesford, Essex, who wished not to be named, said: ‘I am vehemently opposed to referral management systems. It is intensely frustrating and is not working for administrative reasons and ludicrous technical problems.’

A practice manager at a practice in Essex claimed a quarter of its referrals had been rejected by the referral triage system: ‘I feel our patients are suffering. So many receive letters stating their appointments have been cancelled.’

NHS spends nearly £16 million a year on headhunters – Telegraph

The NHS is spending nearly £16million a year paying recruitment firms to headhunt senior executives … it was revealed yesterday.

In one example, a primary care trust paid an agency more than £111,000 to fill the post of its chief executive, only to later promote its own deputy into the role.

The vast expenditure comes despite Government promises to cut back on “wasteful bureaucracy” among health trusts.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has pledged to reduce money spent on managers and pen-pushers by 45 per cent over the next four years. Hospitals are also being forced to axe thousands of front-line staff in an effort to save the NHS billions of pounds.

Yesterday, Freedom of Information figures revealed primary care trusts and strategic health authorities spent an estimated £15.9million paying recruitment firms to hire new managers.

Darzi centres heralded as “massive waste of money” – News – Practice Business

PCTs struggle to justify Darzi centres after revelations of low patient numbers

Statistics from over 95 PCTs have revealed that 26% of Darzi centres have fewer than 500 registered patients, and that 35% had fewer than 1,000 patents.

The new information was gained through the Freedom of information Act and revealed via investigation by GP online that also found that over 12% of all Darzi centres had no registered patients whatsoever (though some stated that they did not offer this option). One of the centres had just a single registered patient.

Each PCT was forced to set up a Darzi centre under the previous government as part of a plan to provide primary patient care seven days a week between the hours of 8am and 8pm each day.

The centres cost around £1.1m each year and the General Practitioners Committee’s (GPC) negotiator, Dr Peter Holden, has stated that the on reflection the centres were “a massive waste of money”, saying that it was “outrageous” that centres had failed to register fewer than 500 patents.

Adelaide Surgery in Southampton has just 1,220 patients registered, GP Online reveals, despite receiving £907,000 in 2011/12, which means the centre receives around £743 per patient per year – or seven times as most GP practices.

[I need to check, but I think that the real issue about Darzi centres (Polyclinics) is that PCTs were forced to provide them by government ~ Darzi clinics being the latest policy fad. ‘The Plot Against the NHS’ by Colin Leys and Stewart Player discusses Darzi clinics.]

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