Sunday, 25 June 2017

POST ELECTION - HOPE FOR THE NHS?


June 2017
Dear Supporter,

Teresa May called an unexpected and, in the eyes of many, an unnecessary general election on June 8th, expecting to increase her majority. She failed!

Polling research seems to be clear that the NHS was the single most important factor for people when they decided who to vote for. The result should be seen as an emphatic rejection of the government's handling of the NHS over the past few years.
THANK YOU FOR VOTING FOR THE NHS
As everyone noticed, Jeremy Hunt was hidden from public view during the entire election campaign. Unfortunately, he's been reappointed as Health Secretary. Would no one else accept the job? Or is this a sign that Hunt's destruction of the NHS is to continue? We do know that there are now health campaigns across England who are determined to defend Our NHS.

Meanwhile, London has recently experienced some horrific events - terrorist attacks and, in our own area, the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower. SOH has written to Imperial Health Trust to express our huge appreciation of health workers in responding to the urgent needs of those taken to our local hospitals. 

'CHOOSING WISELY' ... OR RATIONING?

In the NW London footprint, the CCGs are determined to cut £135 million - around 5% of expenditure - in the current financial year in order to 'balance their budgets'. 

As a first step they are asking for views on their proposals to ration medicines that GPs have been prescribing up to now. Patients will be expected to buy these over the counter in future.

Costs will bear much more on those with low incomes who may not be able to afford over the counter medicines. Further, people on low incomes are in general more likely to suffer several conditions than those who are well off and thus will have to pay more for needed medicines. It will be noticed that there is a racial or ethnic element to this. It is unfortunate – but a fact – that people from ethnic minorities are more likely to be on low incomes than other groups. This exercise may also be not just cost cutting and rationing – which is clear – but also a “market tester” to see how much people can be gradually induced to move further along the road to paying for healthcare on top of the taxes that they already pay to fund the NHS.

We are asking supporters to take a few minutes to respond to the CCG 'consultation' before June 30th by following this link - please OPPOSE all measures that suggest patients should pay for anything and stress that GPs should have the freedom to prescribe based on health needs. It seems that many pharmacies and possibly GP surgeries do not know about this rationing exercise. Here's the link:

https://choosingwiselynwlondon.commonplace.is/

This is the first of what we fear will be multiple cuts and rationing exercises to local health provision across NW London. SOH and other campaigns will continue to resist such attacks on our health services.


THREATS, ‘LIES’, VINDICATION

Over the last 5 years we have been fighting plans to downgrade Charing Cross Hospital from a major acute hospital to little more than a glorified Urgent Care Centre, with a huge loss of beds, consultants, A&E and acute services.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council joined the fight to keep the hospital open. This year, with the council tax bill, they delivered posters saying SAVE CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL to all residents asking that they be put in windows.

Health bosses, under attack for years from campaigners, were clearly rattled by this. They wrote to the council leader, Stephen Cowan, threatening to raise a formal complaint to the Dept for Communities and Local Government, claiming that the council was going beyond their remit, wasting tax payers money and upsetting NHS staff and patients by claiming the hospital was still going to close.

Later, Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, received a similar threatening letter about council funds being used to fight the closure of Ealing Hospital. It is no coincidence that both councils are in the same STP footprint (NW London) nor that both councils were the 1st to refuse to sign up to the STP.

Health bosses claim the hospitals are not closing despite the significant downgrading. As Stephen Cowan has pointed out in an even more recent letter to all residents, “It’s like demolishing someone’s house only to tell them they have in fact not lost their house because the new garden shed they’ve been given will henceforth be known as a ‘local house’.”

During the general election, the Tories reprinted the CCG/Imperial letter to Cllr Cowan after it was published on Imperial’s website, and used it as part of their election campaign claiming the council, and by implication campaigners, were lying about the threat to the hospital.

Just after the election Guardian Online published an article which showed that only 13% of the hospital site would be used for health purposes – the remainder to be sold off to property developers. The now amended article (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/16/most-of-central-london-hospital-to-be-sold-off-secret-plans-reveal ), states both that no closure will go ahead without consultation but also, in direct contradiction), the DoH confirmed that consultation had already taken place in 2012/13 and closure plans will go ahead.

Campaigners believe that threats to the councils and pressure on the media are a sign of how rattled health bosses are in the face of wide-spread public opposition to their plans and of councils who are standing up for their hospitals.

WE WILL NOT BE BULLIED!
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY


June 28th        SOH AGM  7.30pm
Hammersmith Town Hall (Please note that we had to postpone the AGM advertised earlier) ALL WELCOME - it's an  open meeting.



July 1st            NATIONAL DEMO - see above. GREAT IF YOU CAN JOIN US

July 1st            PARSONS GREEN FAIR - from 11.30 - all day
SOH has a stall so if you can't make the demo, please join us there.

July 5th             NHS BIRTHDAY STALL - CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL - 
12-2pm. This  is one of many events across the country celebrating 69 years of the NHS. And supported by many of the health unions! Cakes - including  birthday cake and a huge birthday card to sign. Hope you can join us.





Best wishes,
Merril
Chair, SOH
To email SOH:
scxandh@gmail.com

SOH on the web:



Friday, 16 June 2017

‘Campaigners Were Right All Along – and so is the council’

Most of central London hospital to be sold off, plans reveal



Exclusive: Charing Cross hospital to be cut to 13% of current size and services diverted to facilities around the city, documents show


 In March 2015 former prime minister David Cameron said it was scaremongering to suggest the Charing Cross A&E department was earmarked for closure. Photograph: Gregory Wrona / Alamy/Alamy

Charing Cross hospital, a flagship NHS facility in the heart of London, is to be cut to just 13% of its current size under proposals contained in sustainability and transformation plans published last year in 44 areas across England.
Many of the officially published plans lacked precise detail about how local services would change, but internal supporting documents seen by the Guardian reveal the scale of the closures at the London site.
The proposals claim much of the care currently offered at Charing Cross can be transferred to “community settings” such as local GP services, but health campaigners and clinicians say the transformation could endanger patients.
The documents include a map detailing how 13% of the current hospital site will remain, with the rest of its prime real estate in central London sold off. The plan is to introduce the changes after 2021.
NHS chiefs have stated as recently as March that “there have never been any plans to close Charing Cross hospital”, and in March 2015 the then prime minister, David Cameron, said it was “scaremongering” to suggest that the Charing Cross A&E departmentwas earmarked for closure. The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, echoed the claims.
However, in the internal NHS documents the apparent downgrading of Charing Cross is outlined in great detail.
The plan is to axe 10 major services at Charing Cross – 24/7 A&E, emergency surgery, intensive care and a range of complex emergency and non-emergency medical and surgical treatments. The remaining services would be a series of outpatient and GP clinics, X-ray and CT scans, a pharmacy and an urgent care centre for “minor injuries and illnesses”. Around 300 acute beds will be lost.
The internal documents state: “The significant impact of reconfiguration on inpatient activity will be the movement of activity from Charing Cross and Ealing.”
The plans have sparked a row between the borough where Charing Cross is based – Labour-controlled Hammersmith & Fulham council - and the NHS North West London Collaborative of Clinical Commissioning Groups, which is driving the changes.
Stephen Cowan, the leader of the council, has accused the NHS chiefs of deliberately misleading the public about the Charing Cross plans.
“It’s like demolishing someone’s house only to tell them they have in fact not lost their house – because they’ll be given a new garden shed which will be called their ‘local house’,” said Cowan.
He said NHS chiefs had rebranded the urgent care centre for minor injuries and would be run by GPs and nurse practitioners as a local A&E.
“That still constitutes the demolition and closure of Charing Cross hospital in its current form. No one would see what is left as a hospital in any generally accepted definition of the word,” Cowan added. “A ‘local hospital’ is a clinic. A class 3 A&E is an urgent care clinic.”
A spokeswoman for North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “We are still committed to taking forward changes as agreed by the secretary of state in 2013. We have been clear that we will have local services in place to meet demand and deliver the necessary services for patients before we make any changes to Charing Cross.
“Our current focus is on delivering those new and improved services for local people. We have been clear that no changes will be made before 2021 and that for Charing Cross we will bring forward a strategic outline case in the future which sets out the capital requirement for making these changes and that remains our intention.
“As we look at changes to Charing Cross hospital we will of course continue to work closely with the council and value their important input into these discussions.”
NHS officials have accused Hammersmith & Fulham council of breaching the code of recommended practice on local authority publicity by circulating flyers to residents in March of this year warning of the closure of Charing Cross as a major hospital.
The council delayed replying due to election purdah but Cowan has recently drafted a response to NHS chiefs accusing them of “playing fast and loose with the English language” and demonstrating “a contempt for the public who you evidently hope are taken in by such misrepresentation”.
In the letter, Cowan adds that the published plans for the future of the hospital have avoided mentioning much of the detail contained in the confidential plans.
Charing Cross is thought to be one of five London hospitals that a recent government-commissioned review – by a former University College London hospital chief executive, Sir Robert Naylor – identified as each being worth more than £1bn if sold.
The NHS in England is gearing up to start selling off billions of pounds worth of land and property in order to free up cash to tackle what Naylor estimated to be a £10bn backlog of repairs to sometimes crumbling old buildings.
The Health Service Journal disclosed last week that the Department of Health was preparing to create six regional public/private partnerships covering all of England that would oversee such sales. The plan, codenamed Project Phoenix, would see the proceeds from asset sales being shared between NHS organisations and private firms. Under the plan, London and the south-east would comprise one giant, and very valuable, area.
​The Guardian






Monday, 22 May 2017

JUNE 8th - THINK CAREFULLY... AND VOTE FOR THE NHS





💙💙 VOTE FOR THE NHS 💙💙

April 2017

VOTE FOR OUR NHS
Dear Supporter,
  • Longer waits to see our GPs
  • Huge cuts to health services
  • Bed shortages
  • Demoralised staff
  • Underfunding
Over the last few weeks the NHS has risen to the top of voters' concerns as people consider how to vote.

Save Our Hospitals is a community-based non-party political campaign group, but we are asking our supporters to think carefully about the future of the NHS before you vote on June 8. It's your vote, so it's your decision ... but please think NHS!

Our NHS is under attack as never before. It is time to call a stop to cuts, closures, downgrading, rationing and privatisation. Our NHS cannot stand 5 more years of these attacks.

PUBLIC MEETING

FACTS FROM THE FRONTLINE

COME AND HEAR HOW NHS STAFF ARE FACING UNPRECEDENTED DEMANDS AS THEY TRY TO PROVIDE SAFE CARE FOR PATIENTS
See details - venue, time etc - below


HOW YOU CAN HELP
  • You could help us at our stalls and with our leaflet distribution - see details in dates for diary
  • You could leaflet in your local streets for the public meeting (30th May)
  • You could leaflet in your local streets after the public meeting with our 'Vote for NHS' leaflet
  • You could put a SAVE CHARING CROSS poster in your window.
If you are able to do any of the above, please contact us at scxandh@gmail.com

AND:
  • You could ask canvassers or candidates the following questions:
    • Will you publicly support the retention of Charing Cross and Ealing Hospitals as full acute hospitals with a Type 1 (blue light) A&E and a full complement of beds and specialist staff?
    • Will you stand up for health and social care, demanding an end to the current freeze on NHS budgets and cuts in social care and a major reinvestment in the NHS as a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable service available to all?
    • Mental health provision has been badly neglected. Will your party commit to significantly increase overall spending on mental health, nationally and in NW London, immediately?
    • In NW London there is a significant shortage of staff because of living costs. Will your party end the cap on NHS pay increases, restore NHS bursaries for nurses and health professionals, and legislate safe staffing levels for healthcare?

HOW YOU CAN HELP
  • You could help us at our stalls and with our leaflet distribution - see details in dates for diary
  • You could leaflet in your local streets for the public meeting (30th May)
  • You could leaflet in your local streets after the public meeting with our 'Vote for NHS' leaflet
  • You could put a SAVE CHARING CROSS poster in your window.
If you are able to do any of the above, please contact us at scxandh@gmail.com

AND:
  • You could ask canvassers or candidates the following questions:
    • Will you publicly support the retention of Charing Cross and Ealing Hospitals as full acute hospitals with a Type 1 (blue light) A&E and a full complement of beds and specialist staff?
    • Will you stand up for health and social care, demanding an end to the current freeze on NHS budgets and cuts in social care and a major reinvestment in the NHS as a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable service available to all?
    • Mental health provision has been badly neglected. Will your party commit to significantly increase overall spending on mental health, nationally and in NW London, immediately?
    • In NW London there is a significant shortage of staff because of living costs. Will your party end the cap on NHS pay increases, restore NHS bursaries for nurses and health professionals, and legislate safe staffing levels for healthcare?
 Save Our Hospitals campaigners, on a cold and windy May day, in Chiswick

DATES FOR YOUR DIARY

Tube Leafleting

Hammersmith Tube exit facing King St/Shepherds Bush Rd Mon 22nd May 8.30 - 9.30am
Barons Court Tube Tues 23rd May 8.30 - 9.30am
Hammersmith Tube exit facing Fulham Palace Rd Wed 24th May 8.30 - 9.30am
East Acton tube Wed 24th May 5 - 6pm
Goldhawk Rd Tube Thurs 25th May 8.30 - 9.30am
Hammersmith Tube Fri 26th May 8.30 - 9.30am

SOH  Stalls
CX Hospital Stall Tues 23rd May 2 - 4pm
Askew Rd Stall Wed 24th May 2 - 4pm outside the Co op, 98 Askew Rd (opposite library)
North End Rd Market, Fulham, Sat 27th May 10.00am - 2.00pm - Lillie Rd end - join us any time

PUBLIC MEETING 
Askew Rd Methodist Church (on corner with Bassein Rd), W12 9RN
7pm - 9pm




Best wishes,
Merril
Chair, SOH


Health care blow as UK placed 30th in the world



 The elephants in May's room - cartoon
                               Chris Riddell 21/05/2017
                               The Guardian

Labour Leader of H&F Council, Stephen Cowan, reports on the improvements in the borough
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aAHRX3vQ4g&t=32s

Cllr Greg Smith refuses to support the campaign to SAVE Charing Cross Hospital
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPsOQMBq9zg

NHS care 'among the worst in Europe' due to poor investment
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/05/18/nhs-care-among-worst-europe/

Tories 'won't look again' at social care plans
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/39990986

May's extra £8bn pledge for NHS is far less than it needs, experts say
https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/may/18/may-extra-8bn-pledge-nhs-is-far-less-than-it-needs-experts-say?CMP=share_btn_tw

Reality Check: Why is NHS budget data delayed by purdah?
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2017-39976325

Crowdfunding anti STP
Campaigners and lawyers hope to make a legal challenge to a "typical" STP (Sustainability & Transformation Plan) in the hope that it could lead to a national reversal on these cuts & closures projects. Its a joint action between 999Call for the NHS and solicitors Leigh Day. They need crowd funding within next 10 days, if interested details here -
https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/challenge-stp/

The Truth about the NHS in 2017



June 8th - Think Carefully... and vote for the NHS​






Monday, 15 May 2017

NHS sell-out: Tories sign largest privatisation deal in history worth £780MILLION

The sales to a total of 11 private firms, some with dubious records, are intended to help hospitals tackle the backlog of patients waiting for surgery and tests.


Jeremy Hunt’s claims that the NHS is not for sale lay in tatters last night after he signed the largest privatisation deal in history.
The Health Secretary, who has repeatedly denied health services are being siphoned off to private firms under this Government, faced furious reactions as the £780million deal was revealed.
Heart, joint and a variety of operations will be carried out, as well as scans, X-rays and other diagnostic tests. Under the deal struck by the NHS Supply Chain, many services will be provided in mobile units, rather than hospitals.
The news was met by anger, not least because three of the 11 profit-driven firms have previously been slammed for providing poor quality of care.
Vanguard faces legal action over a series of eye operations carried out in 2014 at Musgrove Park Hospital in Somerset. The hospital terminated its contract with Vanguard after just four days as a result of problems.
Circle – which pulled out of running Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire – is in line to share up to £240million for providing imaging services, such as scans and X-rays. It will also provide services within operating theatres.
And Care UK was previously slammed by the CQC for the quality of care at two nursing homes it runs in Suffolk.
Doctors, anti-privatisation campaigners and unions today said they were outraged by the scale of the contract handed to the private firms.
And they warned the move would be “detrimental” to patient care.
Barrie Brown, national officer for health at union Unite, said: “This is further evidence of the helter-skelter rush to privatise the NHS.
“Great swathes of the NHS are being gobbled up by these 11 private companies, hungry for profit. It will further fragment services and be detrimental to patient care.”
Unison head of health, Christina McAnea, added: “There wouldn’t be such a crisis and backlog if ministers had properly invested in the NHS. Instead they’ve starved it of funds and demoralised staff.
“This is a desperate and dangerous attempt by the government to fix its succession of mistakes, and is also a huge betrayal of public trust.
"More worryingly, we now have companies with terrible track records being given money to provide essential services.”
Prof Sue Richards, chair of campaign group Keep Our NHS Public, also said she was angry the contract had been awarded to firms “demonstrated to provide sub-standard care”.
She added: “We have warned against creeping privatisation, but now the pace is quickening to a gallop.
"This case clearly demonstrates the Government is putting its own ideological commitment to the market and to the vested interests of the private health care industry ahead of patients’ needs.
“No wonder the future of the NHS is the top issue in the election.”
The 11 firms stand to pocket up to £780million between now and December 2018.
It beats the previous record NHS privatisation deal, which led to Virgin Care winning a £500million contract to provide community services in Surrey until 2017.
The NHS Business Services Authority, which oversees NHS Supply Chain, said the deal broke down to five contracts with maximum values of £240million, £160million, £240million, £80million and £60million, adding up to £780million.
A NHSBSA spokesman said: “This was introduced to provide a central point from which mobile and strategic clinical services could be procured efficiently.
“NHS organisations can choose to utilise this route to market if needed saving time and resources, by not having to undertake formal public procurement locally.”
But Dr Clive Peedell, a cancer doctor and co-leader of the National Health Action party, which launched its general election campaign today, said: “This government has spent the past four and half years starving the NHS of cash.
All the main political parties have pledged to boost its funding if they are elected in May.
They are promising it for the simple reason that if they don’t, the NHS will cease to exist.
  • 22:30, 12 MAR 2015
  • UPDATED16:41, 10 MAY 2015

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Broken Windows

Hello. My name is Jeremy Hunt, the elected Politician responsible for the good Running of Britain’s National Health Service. It has come to my attention that Criminals have entered a Number of NHS Hospitals through old Windows. This is a Disgrace and an Outrage. It is the Responsibility of Hospital Managers to make sure that their Windows are sound, secure and absolutely proof against Intruders, as well as Draughts. It is the responsibility of Nurses and Doctors, in the long Hours they must have between dealing with Patients, to carefully note down all cracked, broken or out of date Windows they see, and report them to their Supervisors (not to me, obviously, as I am too busy working to make the NHS fit for the Ranks of exciting developing Nations like Ukraine and India which we are about to join post-Brexit).


I understand a number of slovenly Jobsworths in the NHS have complained that they cannot afford to fix the Windows in their Hospitals, because they do not have enough Money to treat their Patients. I have even heard Hospital Managers say they cannot actually reach the Windows in their Corridors in Winter, when the Weather is at its chilliest, because these same Corridors are blocked by sick old Patients on Trolleys. Might I suggest that if these same Managers took care to fix their Windows in Summer, when Windows may comfortably be left open without Fear of any elderly Person catching a Cold, they would not be troubled by so many Pensioners coughing and sneezing come January?

Money is not the Answer to the Question of broken Windows in Hospitals. If Money were the Answer, I would, of course, have come up with a different Question. The Answer is to shift Resources from unnecessary Parts of a Hospital’s Spending to Front Line Services. As we who would almost certainly have fought in the War know, the Front Line is the only Line actually involved in Fighting Battles, and all other Lines, such as so-called ‘Supply Lines’, carrying ‘Ammunition’ and ‘Food’ to the Troops, are nothing more than a Scam to rip Taxpayers off. Fancy modern high-tech Windows with all their Bells and Whistles, like working Locks and complete Glass, are a luxury Taxpayers cannot afford. Answer me this: if they are forced to fund, through their Taxes, a universal Health Service free at the point of Delivery, how are Hard-working People expected to cope when a serious Family Crisis like Illness comes along?

During the Industrial Revolution, the Factory Owners, Imperial Adventurers and Landlords who made Britain great did not let Details like broken or even missing Windows obstruct their Drive for Enrichment. Hard-working People and the Subjects of our Dominions improvised. I have heard it said that Patches for the Windows used by the NHS are no longer available. Come on! Has nobody in the NHS heard of Cardboard?

James Meek 13 May 2017
https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/

Cast your vote wisely if you wish our public health service to have any kind of future, writes JOHN LISTER

HEALTH Campaigns Together, the biggest and most recent attempt to unite and mobilise a movement strong enough to challenge successive governments’ underfunding and undermining of England’s NHS since 2010, is a non-party initiative.
We have set out to work with health trade unions, local and national campaigns and with local communities and people of any party or none who are prepared to fight back in defence of proper funding of the NHS, against privatisation and fragmentation, and for properly funded, publicly provided social care.
Our huge demonstration through London on March 4, estimated by police and the media at upwards of 200,000-strong, was backed by over a dozen national trade unions.
It also brought along large contingents of people from rural areas and other parts of the country where the Tories have just strengthened their political grip in local elections — Devon, Lincolnshire, Oxfordshire and many more.
We have insisted that the ambition of our campaign is to reach out even wider into local communities, building neighbourhood campaigns, linking them up and forging a movement that no government can ignore.
To strengthen this we campaign on facts, not ideology. We collect, organise and publish the hard truth of what governments have done to our NHS since 2010 — most notably the seven years so far of near-frozen real-terms funding that aim to follow Labour’s decade of growth with a decade of unprecedented decline in spending as a share of GDP.
Current plans would drop British health spending back to bottom of the league of comparable countries.
The cuts in real-terms spending while the population and cost pressures increase have already led to cuts of 9,000 acute hospital beds (treating emergencies and waiting list patients) and 20 per cent of mental health beds since 2010.
The shortage of beds plus brutal outright cuts in social care spending were key factors in last winter’s meltdown that hit the headlines in even the staunchest Tory media — with thousands of patients left waiting hours on trolleys for emergency admissions, a collapse against performance targets for waiting times in A&E, cancer treatment, and a leap in numbers waiting more than 18 weeks for operations.
Now even the loyal Tory Daily Telegraph has flagged up leaked official NHS figures warning of a huge increase in the numbers waiting for treatment — from the current record 3.7 million to 5.5m by 2019 — with numbers waiting over 18 weeks expected to double to 800,000 unless extra resources are released.
The Royal College of Surgeons says the growing waiting times are “unacceptably high” and warns that major brain and heart operations are among those likely to be affected by this worsening performance.
But it’s set to get worse still. The mainstream media has eventually noticed that many of the 44 Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) signed off by NHS England seek to downgrade hospitals or A&E units, cut bed numbers and reduce numbers of patients treated — as each of them seeks drastic “savings” to bridge an expected £22 billion gap between resources and needs by 2020.
In many rural areas the planned “reconfiguration” of hospital care could mean journeys of up to 50 miles to access “local” hospital care.
All of these hard facts are potential dynamite for Theresa May, since many of the people most seriously affected by the NHS and social care cutbacks will inevitably be Tory voters.
But there’s more: the hidden Tory agenda since 2010 has been kept out of the public eye because it is divisive among their own ranks: most Tories value and use their local NHS services, and are angered by suggestions that local A&E units should close.
Nonetheless if they vote for May’s “strong and stable” government, it will be taken as a green light to press ahead with even more controversial cuts and closures.
Most Tories are against privatisation of the NHS. But they had as little say as the rest of the country over Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act, which was not in the manifesto, and only unveiled after David Cameron fought the election pledging no more top-down reorganisation of the NHS.
The Act has brought even more fragmentation, bureaucracy and chaos to the NHS and was designed to open up more possibilities of handing contracts to private-sector providers.
Indeed even during the pre-election “purdah” period, management at the Royal Liverpool Hospital have been emailing consultants to announce plans to increase the income from private patients and inviting consultants to help this along: this will not be a unique example.
Behind the scenes, while ministers proclaim their love of the NHS, the private sector has been growing on the strength of public funds.
The proportion of NHS spending on clinical care from private providers has risen steadily since 2010, while the finances of the NHS providers have been undermined.
Across England on average £1 in every £8 of local commissioners’ budgets is now spent on care provided by non-NHS organisations, and almost half of the additional £2bn of funding for the NHS commissioning budget in England in 2015-16 was spent on care provided by non-NHS providers.
Private hospital chains have been the big winners from this, coining in increased profits from treating NHS patients for whom there is no longer enough bed space as hospitals are reduced to an emergencies and chronic care service, allowing the private sector to cherry-pick the potentially profitable contracts for the least complex elective care.
As delays in treatment increase and the waiting list lengthens, more impatient patients can also be expected to dig into savings or borrow money to pay for quicker private treatment, while cash-saving plans in many clinical commissioning groups now look to restricting the range of treatments that are available as elective care — forcing more people to go private or go without.
So how have things got so bad with so little overt opposition?
How have Cameron and May been able to keep the real NHS policy so well concealed behind a bland rhetoric and cynical assurances?
Labour from 2010 has to take much of the blame — for lacklustre, belated and limited opposition to the spending freeze and even the Health and Social Care Act under the coalition from 2010, partly because of a refusal of the Blairite wing of the party to allow a critical view of the party’s own record in government.
It was after all Blair’s government which chose to waste billions of the extra funding it pumped in to the NHS on deepening what Blair himself had called the “costly and wasteful” purchaser-provider split of Margaret Thatcher’s “internal market” and making it a real market by opening up contracts for clinical services to private providers for the first time.
It was Blair’s government which signed the first extravagant and increasingly unaffordable PFI contracts to finance new hospitals through annually increasing payments over 30 years, pumping a growing profit stream into the coffers of banks and finance houses, many of them now offshore.
The grim legacy of these historic blunders is now visible in many areas: and even after Jeremy Corbyn took over from Ed Miliband in the autumn of 2015 it has taken too long for Labour to get to grips with these issues and develop a more credible policy.
But at last there are signs that it is being done. In a landmark speech to Unison health conference, shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth made an important series of commitments that give those wanting to stop the Tory assault something positive to vote for rather than just an anti-Tory vote.
Ashworth assured delegates: “Labour will defend the NHS and axe the health and social care legislation that allows the NHS to be fragmented and sold off. Privatisation of the NHS will come to an end. … We will reinstate the secretary of state’s responsibilities and reinstate the NHS — publicly funded, publicly administered and, yes, publicly provided.”
He went on to commit to invest in the NHS to hit A&E targets, to “deliver long overdue improvements to underfunded, understaffed” mental health services.
Labour is also now pledged to remove the cap limiting NHS pay increases, reinstate NHS bursaries, guarantee the security of EU and other staff working in the NHS after Brexit, and to bring in a new law to enforce safe staffing levels.
In separate statements on funding, shadow chancellor John McDonnell has made clear that Labour would increase investment in the NHS, although the party has yet to commit calls from NHS Providers for an extra £25bn by 2020 (£15bn over three years in revenue plus £10bn capital) or the Institute of Healthcare Management’s call for three years of £8bn increases.
There’s plenty of room still for improvement but at last the Labour leadership has established a clear alternative and set themselves out as the only party committed to bold moves to repair and improve our damaged NHS.
Theresa May has made clear she does not want the NHS to be central to debates running up to the election: but her whole stance since becoming Prime Minister makes clear that a vote for “strong and stable” leadership would be taken as endorsement for five more years of cuts, closures and privatisation — regardless of local views.
The polls look grim: but if Labour can keep on the pressure, this still could be an election where people wake up to the need to vote for the NHS.
Don’t take any chances with your health: #voteNHS. This might be the last chance to stop the rot before our NHS declines into persistent crisis and chaos, with the private sector waiting in the wings.
  • Health Campaigns Together (www.healthcampaignstogether.com) has published a fact-filled election special broadsheet that backs no party, but makes clear the view that voters should only support candidates committed to fighting on after June 8 to defend local access to services, against cuts and privatisation

https://morningstaronline.co.uk/a-2ec8-Tories-obliterating-the-NHS-behind-the-scenes#.WRjSpGjys2x

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