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An influential House of Lords committee [named?] is objecting to the wording of the Health and Social Care / Destroy the NHS Bill since it no longer requires the Health Secretary to provide a health service. The [which?] committee suggests retaining the wording of the previous health bill to ensure that this responsibilty continues. This is an issue that has been identified before e.g. by Colin Leys and 38degrees’ legal advice.

Nurses anticipate serious attacks on their numbers and conditions of work – fewer hours, downgrading, etc.

The privatisation / destruction / abolition of the NHS has started before the bill ends its parliamentary journey.

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 shakeup poses threat to political control, Lords committee claims | Society | The Guardian

Constitutional flaw spotted in Andrew Lansley’s bill as regulator issues warning to Manchester foundation trusts

Randeep Ramesh

The coalition’s reorganisation of the NHS risks diluting the government’s “constitutional responsibilities” to the health service, an influential Lords committee has warned.

The health secretary currently has to a legal duty provide key NHS services, such as hospital accommodation, ambulances, maternity and nursing. The NHS bill going through parliament envisages that the health secretary would only have to monitor their provision and intervene in the case of failure. The government would not be legally and constitutionally responsible.

The committee examining the constitutional implications of public bills, chaired by Lady Jay, suggests the House of Lords, which will debate the changes later this month, ought to “carefully to consider whether these changes pose an undue risk either that individual ministerial responsibility to parliament will be diluted or that legal accountability to the courts will be fragmented.”

Ministers have promised to amend the bill to ensure the secretary of state remains “responsible and accountable” for the NHS, but the report says “it may well be necessary to amend the bill in order to put this matter beyond legal doubt”.

The committee suggests retaining the “relevant wording contained” in the last Labour health bill to ensure full accountability. The peers argue the current bill only makes “a modest contribution towards accountability… the house [of Lords] will wish carefully to consider whether they are sufficient”.

The warning comes as peers are about to vote on the shakeup planned by the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, and as more evidence has emerged that patients are losing out in a cash-constrained, more market-responsive system.

Monitor, the NHS regulator, has announced that management in nine foundation trusts in Manchester could be removed for repeatedly failing to meet cancer targets if their performance did not improve.

Another 37 trusts have been warned for failing to ensure that patients are protected “from risk of harm” and failing to provide “treatment and support that meets their needs”.

NHS nurses in England ‘fear job losses or downgrades as cuts bite’, poll finds | Society | The Guardian

One in twenty nurses expect to lose their post in next year while similar proportions expect fewer hours or responsibilities

Denis Campbell

Almost 75,000 nurses expect to lose their jobs, have their hours cut or see their roles downgraded in the next year, according to a survey that highlights the growing impact of the NHS’s financial squeeze.

Five per cent of the NHS in England’s 410,000 nurses – some 20,500 in all – believe their posts will disappear in the next 12 months. Another 24,600 anticipate a cut in hours, while another 28,700 expect to have their jobs reassessed as involving fewer responsibilities.

The findings, extrapolated from a Royal College of Nursing (RCN) poll of 8,000 of its members, have prompted renewed claims that the coalition is not honouring repeated promises to protect the NHS frontline from cuts.

The nurses’ fears come as more acute and mental health trusts across England decide to reduce their nursing workforce as part of efforts to help in the NHS’s £20bn cost-saving drive.

For example, Plymouth hospitals NHS trust plans to cut 281 posts, including 145 nursing jobs, to save £31m this year. The RCN is concerned that 130 existing nursing vacancies at the trust have led to staff shortages in some areas of medical care, and that patient safety could be at risk.

As part of plans to restructure community services in London, Camden and Islington NHS foundation trust, which deals with mental health services, will lose 69 posts, including those of nurses, psychologists and social workers.

Portsmouth hospitals NHS trust aims to shed 99 posts by next April, including at least six nurses, three of which are specialist nursing posts, giving care to people with long-term medical conditions.

In the RCN’s biannual employment survey:

• 54% of respondents reported that staffing levels of nurses had decreased in their workplace in the past year.

• 57% said they worked over and above their contracted hours either every shift or several times a week, with 16% saying that they did so every shift. Forty per cent said their employer had initiated a recruitment freeze.

• 19% had seen posts disappear in the past year.

• 13% had seen beds or wards closed.

Doctors to take over health spending – Main Section – Yorkshire Post

FAMILY doctors in Calderdale, Kirklees, Wakefield, Hull, the East Riding and northern Lincolnshire today take over the spending of hundreds of millions pounds in NHS resources in landmark reforms.

GPs in Leeds, Bradford and Craven and most of South Yorkshire are likely to do so in coming weeks, while those in Barnsley and North Yorkshire will take on budgets probably from April.

They are being handed devolved responsibility for spending from NHS managers running primary care trusts (PCTs) although officials will retain ultimate legal authority for business carried out until they hand decision-making for the bulk of NHS expenditure to GPs from April 2013.

In Hull, the East Riding and northern Lincolnshire, four new clinical commissioning group committees led by GPs are taking the lead in planning and delivering £1.1bn in health services.

GP Gina Palumbo, who will head the East Riding group, said its vision was to deliver better care, more locally and within budget through transforming services.

“It’s about doing things differently. As with all public services we have a financial challenge and that’s all the more reason for us to be creative, innovative and work in more efficient ways,” she said.

GP Peter Melton, shadow accountable officer at North East Lincolnshire Care Trust Plus, said: “The NHS reforms are confusing and can be unsettling for all of us.

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