My thoughts on NHS

HSThere have been many of us who been campaigning together to protect our NHS for years now. many of us want an decent NHS we can rely on. We want everyone in Britain to have great health care.

Whether you’re rich or poor, young or old, wherever you live – we should all get decent treatment whenever we need it. So we need the NHS to be properly funded. And we need it run as a public service that puts patients first – not the profit of private companies.

Today, bosses at NHS England unveiled their five-year blueprint for the NHS. [1] I listened closely, because I know how much it matters to 38 Degrees members. Here are the headlines:

NHSThey make a very strong case for why the NHS needs better funding. They explained why the NHS needs billions of pounds more than any of the politicians have promised – and set out grave risks to the quality of our health care if this doesn’t happen. They haven’t ruled out more privatisation. This is worrying, and proves that we need to do more to campaign against privatisation.

There are some strange new proposals to investigate  like paying doctors extra cash each time they diagnose someone with dementia or paying patients to lose weight.
The other interesting thing that happened this morning was Health Minister Jeremy Hunt’s response. When the BBC grilled NHS England chief about cuts and privatisation, Jeremy Hunt took to Twitter to accuse 38 Degrees members of hijacking the interview! [2]

The government clearly sees 38 Degrees as the main organisation fighting to protect the NHS and stop their privatisation plans. That’s a huge responsibility.

I know that protecting the NHS will be a long-term task for the many. We need to push politicians to promise enough funding. And we need to push the politicians to drop their obsession with handing contracts to dodgy private companies. [3]

At the same time we need to keep running the shorter term campaigns to protect the NHS – like saving Lewisham Hospital, or stopping privatisation at the Dorchester General. [4] Not to mention blocking the outrageous plan to sell our medical records to private companies. [5]

Scale up our anti-privatization work. We could block more local proposals to privatize hospitals and services. We could launch fresh investigations to expose private companies when they provide bad care.


I would strongly all to put every MP, and candidates, under pressure to promise to fund the NHS properly and tell us exactly how they’d pay for it.

Some may have witnessed on  television or may have been in the public gallery in Parliament or read via press recently at the Prime Minister Questions Time (PMQs) when Ed Miliband put some questions to the Prime Minister regarding the NHS in the reply was about the NHS in Wales. This clearly shows that David Cameron has decided to tackle the greater confidence in Labour over health matters by what I can only describe as attacking the NHS in Wales.

There is no doubt whichever way we look at this NHS does needs more levels of funding and I give credit where it’s due during the thirteen years of a Labour government they invested more than any current coalition into the NHS however more can be done. I am sure of one thing I would rather put my trust in Labour when it comes to ensuring that we have the right investments in our NHS which Labour has a very good track record for investment. Intriguingly patients, health professionals, and voters are united in opposition to the internal market and top down re-organisation imposed on the health service in England by the conservative coalition.

Let’s not forgot that the Heath budget in Wales is subject to the Barnett formula block grant from Whitehall to Cardiff Bay that short changed Wales by the sum of £300 Million a year and which the Westminster establishment coalition cut by 10% which this coalition conveniently left out in their reply to the opposition leader.

If funds were based on need rather than population as Lord Barnett proposed the Welsh government would be better placed to increase NHS spending.

David Cameron seems to have forgotten that he has a coalition partner viz Nick Clegg and do seem to imagine it’s the conservative government who is running the country   and he is the Prime Minister who speaks for all.

Just after the Scottish referendum David Cameron and other Westminster party leaders welcomed the No vote in Scotland that he is in a position to take a pop at the Welsh patients treated in hospitals in England and vice – versa.

I’m sure that David Cameron’s insinuation(s) is that if four times as many residents in Wales this must be true and must represent a choice based on qualitative criteria. Surly he must be aware that countries cannot be compared in population wealth and number of hospitals let alone specialist units which makes up the NHS ie Learning Difficulties, Mental Health, physical disabilities, and dementia and the list goes on.

It is deteriorating swiftly with hospitals weighed down by debts and care service at near breaking point. Tory and FibDems opposition to our NHS public service ethos based on paramountcy of private profits is very lethal to health services throughout Britain and must be rejected on 7 May 2015

How many people has the feeling that David Cameron will drive a wedge between his party and our NHS and Europe hence it’s little wonder why two of the backbenchers defected to UKIP and some of his MPs who were elected in 2010 are stepping down making way for a more right wing agenda.

Its comes as no surprise when Secretary Jeremy Hunt was challenged to end the Tories’ NHS England cash freeze yesterday after he was warned it faces meltdown due to a looming £30 billion-a-year hole.

In Westminster Labour shadow minister Andy Burnham pummelled his Tory counterpart at the dispatch box following the release of a five-year blueprint by NHS organisations which warned that “efficiency” savings alone would not be enough.

A grinning Mr Hunt labelled the report “essentially positive and optimistic” but brushed off calls to invest more cash.

Mr Burnham, whose party has pledged a £2.5bn-a-year above-inflation funding rise, retorted: “The report could not be clearer — simply protecting the NHS budget in the next Parliament as the Conservatives propose will not prevent it tipping into a full-blown crisis.”

The joint report by six bodies, including watchdogs Monitor and the Care Quality Commission and NHS England itself, speculates that new technology, restructured community services and better public education could make the service “more productive” and reduce a projected £30bn annual funding shortfall.

It set out sweeping plans for GP practices to hire hospital doctors, to allow hospitals to provide GP services to plug gaps, to merge the back-office functions of smaller facilities, and to encourage bigger hospitals to open franchises in smaller ones.

But even the most optimistic estimates set out in their “forward view” would leave a £16bn-a-year gap if the government continues its planned real-terms budget freeze.

And trade union Unite head of health Rachael Maskell said that the real picture would be worse because the plan’s cash-saving goals simply could not be achieved in time.

The service is already struggling with existing demands for annual “efficiency” savings that have seen £20bn drained from budgets since 2010, she said.

And she warned the NHS plan “will be impossible to deliver in five years if you are talking about a real improvement in health prevention, retraining and realigning the roles of NHS staff, together with integration of health and social care.

“The best investment that the government could make in the NHS is the immediate scrapping of the Health and Social Care Act which has already squandered £3bn in a pointless reorganisation.”

The NHS blueprint states that continuing current inflation-only budget rises would lead to a massive black hole even if the service succeeded in finding more ways to cut costs. It predicts a £21bn annual shortfall if the current “efficiency” drive to find 0.8 per cent savings a year continued and funding remained in line with inflation. That gap could narrow to £16bn if savings increased to 1.5 per cent a year and the budget remained flat.

But NHS England would only meet costs by 2020-21 if a hugely ambitious 2-3 per cent annual cost-saving target totalling £22bn was met and real-terms funding rose by £8bn a year.

The Jaws of doom just don’t affect Local Government but it will also affect our NHS under The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) if the Conservatives and UKIP coalition or Conservatives and Fibdems coalition after the general election on 7 May 2015.

Nor can I defend or even justify The boss of the NHS in England has defended the privatisation of services as a way of helping patients get treatment but insisted that the health service would continue to do most of the work.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, said that “sometimes there will be a case” for a patient needing, for example, a hip operation to use a private provider paid by the NHS and stressed that patients should decide themselves who should treat them.

He was responding on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme to questions about the NHS put by its listeners, many of which involved the outsourcing of NHS clinical services.

Stevens, an ex-Labour government health adviser under Tony Blair, started in the NHS’s top job on 1 April after 10 years working for UnitedHealth, an American private health firm.

Asked if it was his intention to have more private companies delivering care, he replied: “No. Most services in this country are delivered by the NHS and that’s going to continue to be the case under any foreseeable future. But the tests we should be applying are that we think like a patient and act like a taxpayer and sometimes there will be a case for whether you need a hip operation [being done in the private sector, but paid for by the NHS.”







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