NHS cuts and inefficient privatisation. Where do we go to hear the truth?

Leeds North West Constituency

The coverage of government-led changes to the NHS and their impact by the mainstream media is disgraceful.
Wherever there’s a story which can be used to beat the NHS, it’s published and republished. But the results of privatisation – and what the government is doing to the NHS – never seem to make it to the top of the agenda.images-1

So here’s a little story you may well have missed.

The Stevenage Tory MP, Stephen McPartland, has called for the return of the Clinicenta/Carillion-owned Surgicentre in Stevenage to NHS control, after three people died following routine surgery.

The deaths are under investigation, and no verdict can be passed on their causes.
But Mr McPartland is in no doubt that, in general, the privatisation did not bring benefits to his constituents, and should be reversed.
“The service has never reached a satisfactory standard despite the best efforts of the NHS staff.’

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The NHS – the most cost-efficient health system in the world – or, at least, it was, before the Coalition got its hands on it.

Leeds North West Constituency

The NHS is certainly the best loved and most approved health care system, but it’s also the most efficient – or at least it was.
A 2012 report produced by the Commonwealth Fund underlined both.
The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation supporting independent research on health care issues. Its report showed the highest approval ratings for the NHS. Asked whether they felt the need for change, 62% of people felt it needed only the most minor changes. Only 3 % felt it needed fundamental change.

But the Commonwealth Fund’s survey of 15 health care systems – Australia, Canada, Denmark, England, France, Germany, Iceland, Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, USA – also found that the NHS outperformed most other systems on a range of indicators, and outperformed all when these indicators were taken together. [p 8].

Another report, in 2011, came to similar conclusions.

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Why Austerity Kills

Leeds North West Constituency

Why Austerity Kills is the subtitle of a new book – The Body Economic, by David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu, published by Allen Lane. Written from the perspective of experts in Public Health, they mount a persuasive case that recession itself is not necessarily bad for health. What matters is the political response.diphtheria

In brief, where there’s a New Deal type of response—investment in health, housing, and social security—people don’t die sooner. Where the response is austerity, the death rates (and other negative indicators) go up.

Moreover, a New Deal response leads to quicker economic recovery; austerity impedes recovery.

The book examines contrasting cases in depth: those US states which rejected New Deal policies versus those that didn’t; the Asian Tiger countries which accepted IMF austerity after their 1997 crash, as against Malaysia, which didn’t; likewise, more recently, Greece compared to Iceland and the US compared to the UK.


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Five reasons why I love the NHS in Leeds – a patient’s perspective

Crisis, threat and concern for the future have been the themes of our posts on the NHS. But sometimes we need to remind ourselves why we ARE so concerned about the NHS - remind ourselves about what it means for individuals, about what makes it so precious. So after a view from the bedside of … Continue reading Five reasons why I love the NHS in Leeds – a patient’s perspective

Andy Burnham’s vision for Labour’s NHS – Whole Person Care, and an Integrated Health and Social Care system

Leeds North West Constituency

On 14 June, Andy Burnham addressed the Commissioning Show. You probably didn’t see it reported in the media – the NHS is still not news, except when things are going wrong under the stress of cuts and reorganisation.

But his address was worth attention. In it he set out forcefully his – and Labour’s – vision for a fully integrated, 21st-century system of Health and Social Care.

Social Care is a low priority – in government and in the media.
And it’s under even greater threat as a result of cuts in adult social care budgets -since the Coalition came to power in 2010, £1.8 billion has been cut from those budgets, and more cuts are in the pipeline.

The Local Government Association has repeatedly warned about what’s happening, and what will happen in the future.
Local Councils are being overwhelmed by a combination of reducing budgets and increasing demand…

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How to privatise the #NHS without causing a revolution – Gerry’s view from the bedside.

Leeds North West Constituency

Gerry is a nurse ‘who believes passionately in the concept and existence of the NHS.’

Gerry tweets regularly on this topic – and you can follow those tweets @archangelolill

We post below – with Gerry’s permission – a selection of those tweets.A7kMXYCCcAA_Sw0

We have expanded abbreviations used in tweets.

They need no commentary.

“Privatizing ‪#NHS‬ without causing revolution. Step 1 – Tory faithful will support idea because it’s excellent nondiscriminatory care for all.

Privatising ‪#NHS‬ without causing revolution. Step 2 – promise to keep it safe putting idea of privatisation beyond realms of public imagination.

Privatizing ‪#NHS‬ without causing revolution. Step 3 – facilitate contributions / advice for destruction of ‪#NHS‬ from private healthcare providers.

Privatizing ‪#NHS‬ without causing revolution. Step 4 – woo LibDems, promise them reforms in Lords for unanimous support of ‪#NHS‬ privatisation.

Privatizing ‪#NHS‬ without causing revolution. Step 5 – Manipulate Royal Colleges make some feel…

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Remember Cameron’s 5 pledges on NHS? Are any of them unbroken?

Leeds North West Constituency

Remember Cameron’s election promise?

Remember his five guarantees on the NHS?
“We will not endanger universal coverage – we will make sure it remains a National Health Service.
We will not break up or hinder efficient and integrated care – we will improve it.
We will not lose control of waiting times – we will ensure they are kept low.
We will not cut spending on the NHS – we will increase it.
We will ensure competition benefits patients.”
Guardian 8 June 2011

They were all designed to head off the toxic effects of NHS reforms on the Tory party.

Has he kept any of them?

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G8, EU-US trade negotiations – and the greatest threat to the NHS?

Leeds North West Constituency

Buried among questions to the PM yesterday on the G8 summit was this one:
‘Will the Prime Minister confirm that the NHS is exempt from the EU-US trade negotiations?’
– from Debbie Abrahams (Oldham East and Saddleworth) (Lab):
Cameron’s response was brief.
‘I am not aware of a specific exemption for any particular area, but I think that the health service would be treated in the same way in relation to EU-US negotiations as it is in relation to EU rules. If that is in any way inaccurate, I will write to the hon. Lady and put it right.’ images

‘Buried’ is precisely what this issue has consistently been. This is not an issue that anyone seems to want us to talk much about.

And yet the EU US trade agreement is one of the biggest threats to the future of the NHS as we know it.
We’ve posted on this…

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The crisis in Accident and Emergency – Labour’s response

Leeds North West Constituency

Where’s the last place you want an emergency waiting to produce an accident – in Accident and Emergency.

But figures appearing over the last weeks suggest a growing crisis there.644632_10151361908992411_1823532701_n

Early in June figures from the King’s Fund showed that waiting times in A and E had reached a nine year high.

On 14 June, the Guardian reported that attendances to accident and emergency had hit a record high with 21.739m patients in the first 11 months of 2012-13, with ‘a notably large jump occurring between 2011-12 (21.481m) and 2012-13 (21.739m after 11 months)’.

The knee-jerk response of Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt was to blame Labour’s GP contract and its out-of-hours provision. But the recent escalation in the figures points to other causes.
As the Guardian’s Health correspondent Denis Campbell writes
‘The figures cast serious doubt on health secretary Jeremy Hunt’s recent claims that the rise in A&E attendances was…

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New report: private NHS providers increase fraud risk, damage patients


An independent health think-tank (which looks to be genuinely independent, unlike all those right-wing ‘independent’ groups that abuse charitable status for tax-breaks while plotting ways to impoverish us) has published a new report on the impact of increased use of profit-making providers in the NHS.

The CHPI (Centre for Health and the Public Interest) report warns

that the introduction of greater use of for profit providers of healthcare services as a result of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act is likely to substantially increase the amount of healthcare fraud in the NHS. This will result in less money for patient care when funds are already scarce in the NHS.

The authors of the report find

that the use of payment by results contracts with private providers in the new NHS market provides significant opportunities for fraudulent claims such as ‘upcoding’, whereby patients are categorised as having more severe conditions than they actually have in order to…

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