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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.