Health News Blog
20th May 2013
Harmoni admits running OOH service with no doctors
The now private out-of-hours service for City and Hackney, Harmoni, admitted there were no doctors at an emergency GP centre. Harmoni took over the out-of-hours service in 2010 under an interim arrangement which was extended in February without a tender process. Hackney GPs who formed a not-for-profit organisation were blocked from bidding for the contract. A recent CQC inspection of Harmoni North Central London which covers the City and Hackney contract found ‘there were not enough qualified, skilled and experienced staff to meet people’s needs’. Ed - "Why do we not have some oversight of decisions made about our health services? Where are the headlines decrying privatising our NHS?"
NHS threatened by US trade deal, warns Lord Owen
Lord Owen has warned that an EU-US trade deal contained ‘no plan to exclude arrangements for healthcare in its different forms in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland’.The deal raised fears of ‘investment protection being extended to the whole raft of private health contracts in the UK, that American health care companies and consultancies expect to be awarded to them in the next few years’. ‘Such protection could have the effect of health contracts being virtually retained in perpetuity,’ he added.
10 occasions when Labour has promised to repeal the NHS Act
Dr Eion Clarke, on his Green Benches website, lists the top ten occasions when either Andy Burnham or Ed Miliband has promised to repeal the Health and Social Care Act.
The running down of NHS Direct caused increase in A&E attendance
In the dying days of NHS Direct, as it was preared for privatisation under the disastrous 111 helpline, it referred an extra 120,000 patients to accident and emergency departments in its last year, compared with the final 12 months of the Labour government. This appears to offer an explanation for at least some of the huge increase in people attending A&E departments. The coalition had been running down the NHS Direct service, about 40% of whose staff were nurses, since announcing in summer 2010 that it was to be replaced by a 111 helpline run by private call centres.
The care of a million elderly "at risk" from Care and Support Bill
The heads of 38 leading charities including Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society, Scope and the British Red Cross, have warned that the Care and Support Bill, which, the Coalition claims, will usher in a cap on the cost of care to prevent people being forced to sell homes. However, Labour spokeswoman Liz Kendall says the costs involved in the average stay in a care home will not exceed the £72K cap, so many elderley residents won't get any support.
16th May 2013
A&E crisis prompts call for overahaul
The College of Emergency Medicine has called for GP support at A&E departments. It says that a major overhaul is needed in how emergency care is delivered and urges a big expansion of what it calls "co-located primary care services" – especially GP services and urgent care centres – to look after between 15% and 30% of those arriving as emergency cases and now the Red Cross is having to prop up England's emergency care system.
Foundation Trusts are immune from intervention after whistle-blowing
The pledge made by Sir David Nicholson, head of NHS England, to intervene if he "caught a whiff" of organisations not providing support to whistleblowers, was thrown into doubt by a letter he wrote immediately after making the pledge to the Commons Select Committee on Health. He said in the letter to former NHS employee that he could not help because a "legal process" had been concluded and that his hands were tied because foundation trusts are "separate legal bodies" from the Department of Health, Note: Mid-Staffs Trust was, and still is, a Foundation Trust, and all hospital trusts under the new NHS Act will be forced to become Foundation Trusts.
13th May 2013
Private OOH service not staffed by doctors
A whistle-blower has said that Harmoni, a private out-of-hours service covering 250,000 patients, is using senior nurses when doctors cannot be recruited to work the shifts. In times of extreme staffing shortages there has been just one advanced nurse practitioner working overnight in North Somerset, the Daily Mail said. Locum doctors have been flying in from Europe, or driving from elsewhere in Britain to perform back-to-back shifts round-the-clock. Terminally-ill cancer patients have waited eight hours for a doctor to visit them at home and administer pain relief; and foreign doctors with a poor grasp of English have been used to plug gaps in the rota.
New 111 helpline is "seriously flawed"
Doctors say lives have been put at risk, with desperately-ill patients left waiting hours for help while ambulances have been dispatched to trivial cases. Last weekend it emerged that 22 serious incidents are being investigated in connection with the line, including three deaths.
Woman starves to death after care agency's immigration raid
When Carefirst24 was raided by immigration authorities, suggesting it was using foreigh staff illegally for very low wages, it closed down. This resulted in the death of Gloria Foster, 81, a frail widow with dementia. She was entirely dependent on four daily visits from carers, who fed her, helped her get out of bed and gave her medicine.
3/4 of nurses say Mid Staffordshire scandal could happen again
In a Sunday Mirror the poll of 2,000 nurses, 40% said on their last shift there were not enough staff to provide a safe level of care. The Safe Staffing Alliance (SSA), a group that includes the Royal College of Nursing, Unison and the Patients Association, says wards often have just one registered nurse looking after eight patients. This ratio could be regarded as the minimum acceptable of staffing when it in fact puts patients at risk.
Councils fear big cuts in public health funding
The Department of Health has confirmed that the body that plans future budget allocation, the Advisory Committee on Resource Allocation (ACRA), is looking at the public health funding formula. Councils across England fear their public health funding for 2015 could be cut by up to 85%, while others face increases of up to 48%. The chairman of Hackney Council's health and wellbeing board Jonathan McShane warned that some enhanced services could face the axe because councils are now only mandated to provide five services. These include sexual health, health checks and the national child measurement programme. Smoking cessation, obesity or public mental health services are not covered and could be at risk.
9th May 2013
It's official, NHS emergency care is in crisis
What all A&E nurses have been saying for some time has been officially acknowledged by the regulator, the Care Quality Commission. Since 2010 over 500 nurses have been sacked. Despite all the clap-trap about efficiency savings and running hospitals "smarter", this has the effect of reducing the number of beds - as well as morale - in our hospitals. Result - no places for emergency patients to feed through to. Of course the new privatised 111 call handlers, because they're not medically trained, saying "go to A&E" doesn't help!
Where next for campaigners after Section 75 regulations?
Despite our wonderful campaign in which peers were deluged with letters and emails, and the LibDems voting with the Tories, the dreadful regulations ensuring all NHS services must be offered to the private sector. were passed. So what do NHS campaigners do now? This article, by Caroline Molloy, offers some guidance.
111 service investigated for "serious incidents"
NHS England, the new name for the NHS Commissioning Board, are investigating claims that some patients have suffered harm, and even died, as a result of problems with the replacement for NHS Direct, the new telephone advice service, that in some areas has been privatised. Since its launch patients in some areas have faced long waits for their calls to be answered and further delays before a call handler rings back to advise them. Others have been given wrong advice, with staff shortages and poorly-trained staff blamed. Hospitals say problems with 111 partly explain a surge in demand for A&E services.
NHS stops referring to private hospital after damning report
The Mount Alvernia hospital in Surrey, run by BMI Healthcare, one of Britain's biggest private healthcare providers, agreed to suspend surgery earlier this week after the damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report. Care failures cited by the CQC report included a surgeon who operated without gloves in blood-stained shirt sleeves, and a child who was not seen by a paediatrician for seven hours despite his condition deteriorating.
2nd May 2013
Culture of fear prevents whistle blowing
Research by the RCN demonstrates that when staff come forward as whistleblowers they are intimidated to keep them quiet. 5,277 (64%) of the 8,262 nurses surveyed by pollsters ICM for the RCN had raised a concern, mostly about unsafe staffing (48%) or patient safety (21%). But 24% said they were discouraged or warned off taking any further action by managers or colleagues.
Were nurses really to blame for Mid Staffs?
Previous entries on this blog, see 28th March below, have tried to emphasise that contrary to headlines about the Francis Report and particularly what our PM and his health secretary had to say, the real culprits were the Board and senior staff. Here's an article from The Telegraph underlining that point; to quote "One idealistic junior nurse, who complained repeatedly that standards were dreadful, was threatened and silenced." To reiterate exactly this point take a look at this video by a speaker at the RCN, it will make you impassioned about nursing, and angry that they are carrying the bedpan for genuine political responsibility.
15th April 2013
10 ways the Tories destroyed our NHS
Dr Eoin Clarke explains, with evidence, how the Coalition government has destroyed the NHS, from handing £7 billion of NHS budget to private profiteers, axeing 5000 nursing jobs, closing walk-in centres and ambulance stations and, despite government spin, there's a real-terms fall in NHS expenditure. All this before the privatising of the NHS Act gets going.
Patients warn government - hospital surveys are a waste of time
Cameron's "friends and family" survey of hospitals is regarded as unnecessary by the public and should be dropped. Under the prime minister's plan, patients and staff will be able to score every hospital and GP in England on whether they would be happy for their loved ones to use the service.
11th April 2013
Thatcher began the privatisation of the NHS
Dr Kailash Chand, BMA deputy chairman, writes in GP Online that Thatcher brought in the concept of the internal market and fundholding in the NHS. Her big idea was the creation of a market within the NHS so that some parts of the organisation would become providers selling their services to the others, the purchasers. This separation of purchaser from provider - the purchaser/provider split - was the key feature. The result was that the entire NHS started fragmenting, with each hospital in competition with the others. Primary and secondary care were put in an adversarial position.
Outgoing NHS scientific adviser says homeopathy on the NHS "is mad"
In an article in the Telegraph professor Sir John Beddington criticised the Government for ignoring his advice against the use of homoeopathic remedies by GPs and NHS run hospitals. He retired as chief scientific adviser to the Government on April 1, and expressed his frustration that ministers had continued to allow taxpayers money to be used to fund such treatments despite them having “no scientific basis”.
Chair of NHS Alliance says 50% of hospital work should be in community
The NHS Alliance, an organisation of PCT and some clinicians, supported the move for private companies' involvement in the NHS. Now its head, Michael Dixon says that much hospital care could be done in the community. He was taken to task in letters to the Guardian by GPs Oliver and Green. The problem with this debate is that we are quite rightly suspicious of moves to reduce hospital care. It could be a cynical attempt to reduce the care available on the NHS, just as localism was used as a justification for private companies' involvement in the health service. However, there could be a case for some hospital work to move to primary care, provided there is evidence-based proof that it's cheaper and more effective. Needless to say, there has never been clear unequivocal evidence that NHS services provided by the private sector are either cheaper or more effective than that their equivalent by the publicly-run NHS; in fact, quite the opposite. See a multitude of examples in this blog.
8th April 2013
'Momentum building' in opposiiton to Section 75 regulations
The Labour peer leading the fight against the so-called revised Section 75 regulations has tabled a 'fatal motion' to defeat the passing of the regulations that will ensure that all NHS services are put out to tender, thus ensuring that the private sector has the pick of our health service. I don't want to dampen your anticipation, but 'fatal motions' rarely work.
A&E departments across the country are failing
Professor Alysson Pollock says David Cameron's recent attack on migrants' use of NHS services diverts attention from the real story of what is happening to our accident and emergency services. A&E departments are serially failing to meet their targets, primarily due to staff cuts as hospitals trusts attempt to achieve Foundation Trust status, something all health trusts must do under the NHS Act.
NHS hospitals are gearing up to attract private patients
Under the new NHS Act hospitals can give up to 49% of their beds to private patients. There used to be a limit on private patients income - that limit was abolished under the Act. Hospitals are seeking a radical increase in revenue from the treatment of private patients as their budgets come under pressure since the government can cut NHS budgets. Under the Act there is no longer a "duty" to provide a national health service, something the Secretary of State for Health always had from 1948 until now. So NHS patients go to the back of lengthening queues.
3rd April 2013
Hunt drops key Francis recommendation on the rights of the patient
The Telegraph reports that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has quietly omitted a key point from the Mid Staffs report. Robert Francis, the inquiry chairman, said that one of his top priorities was for the NHS constitution to be rewritten, making it explicit that “patients are put first” and “everything done by the NHS should be informed by this ethos”. But the redrafted constitution, quietly released a few days ago simply states that the health service will “aspire” to put patients first.
NHS 111 roll-out postponed due to fears that it's not fit for purpose
The commencement of non-emergency advice phone 111, the replacement for the NHS Direct, has been aborted amid fears that lives could be put at risk. 111 contracts have been offered to private companies like Harmoni (see "Privatised OOH service "wholly inadequate", 4th March, below). To maximise profit the service will be staffed by non-medically trained staff, who despite this will decide whether to refer cases for emergency call-out. The BMA said "“The whole idea was that this was meant to be NHS Direct “light”, but this is so light it is in danger of floating away. You cannot do this without doctors and nurses."
NHS Act is a threat to doctor-patient relationship
Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the ruling council at the British Medical Association (BMA), said doctors were worried that their role undre the new Act in deciding which patients got access to which treatments, as a result of the formation of 211 GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) across England, would prove divisive and unpopular. GPs would be at risk of being seen as "agents of the state" who are implementing government cuts.
4 hour A&E target now being missed
The NHS is now not meeting even the watered-down target of 95% of petients being seen in 4 hours (it used to be 98% before the last election). The Department of Health data emerged just after the East of England ambulance service took the unprecedented step of erecting a tent to treat patients.
EU/US trade talks threaten NHS
Trade talks quietly taking place between the US and the EU could see England's NHS tied into a privatised model semi-permanently. Yet this deeply concerning backdrop to the Coalition's deplorable NHS privatisation has received scant media attention.
Perhaps the NHS should have had a PR department....
Was this the fundamental error in Bevan's plans? In our privatised world where via advertising companies tell us how wonderful they are, the NHS should have been trumpeting its successes, as in patient satisfaction scores in Commonwealth Fund research. Now here's more research that suports just how good the NHS is...or was. The Kings Fund report that the annual British Social Attitudes survey reveals that satisfaction with the NHS now stands at 61%, the third highest level since the survey began in 1983. So why the need for reform?
28th March 2013
38 Degrees' legal opinions on S75 regulations rejected by government
The online campaigning group 38 Degrees obtained a legal opinion that regulations, referred to as 'Section 75' regulations but titled NHS Procurement, Patient Choice and Competition (No. 2) Regulations 2013, will promote NHS privatisation. The government in its formal response has rejected this claim; this despite the fact that the revised regulations still state that "commissioners can only award contracts without competition if they can show no other provider could offer the service." If a CCG awards a contract to the NHS without offering to tender and private firms would like to bid, then the CCG risks a dispute over its assertion that other providers were not capable of offering the service. But would a CCG risk the possibility of expensive litigation? No, the effect is that all services will be offered in a bidding procedure. So the private sector will take what it wants, leaving the publicly-funded NHS the rump.
Compare Hunt's response to Francis to the real thing
You probably have got the main issues that Hunt has prioritised in his response to the Mid Staffs crisis - aspiring nurses will have to work as healthcare assistants first. But Francis said the primary responsibility for the deaths lies with the Board. The Board were singularly focused on maintaining its Foundation Trust status. But instead of questioning the wisdom of Foundation Trusts and whether they are good for our NHS, Hunt has simply barred the individuals of the Mid Staffs Board from running an NHS orgainsation. The real issue is managerialism and targets - are they good for our NHS?
BMA calls for a delay in NHS 111 implementation
The doctor's union has written to the government urging a delay in bringing in the replacement for NHS Direct. The BMA said that in several pilot areas the service was completely unable to cope with call volumes or suffered severe IT failures. It said patient safety was being put at risk.
25th March 2013
GP contract changes and "chaotic reforms" putting lives at risk
The General Practice Committee (GPC) of the BMA calls for a halt to the chaos caused by changes to doctors' contracts, the disruption wrought by the government's NHS reforms and the roll-out of NHS 111, the replacement for NHS Direct.
More smoke and mirrors as Hunt obscures the real Francis Report message
On Tuesday 26th March Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt will unveil his response to the report into Mid Staffs. He won't say, as he should, that the catastrophe was caused by excessive managerialism - a focus on finance and targets rather than real healthcare. He will say that he's going to relieve hospitals of the duty for collecting scores of different sets of data. Data collection is important to treat individual patients and to run a national healthcare system, so it may have to be collected whether or not there exists a responsibility in law to collect them. But he will try to make his announcement sound as if the government are saving the NHS, instead of applying more of the same problematic philosophy.
More evidence that the NHS is the best healthcare system... so why the reforms?
Do you remember Cameron's claim at the last election that cancer care in the UK was the worst in Europe? In fact due to the rate of improvement in NHS cancer care, if allowed to be funded as it has been in recent decades, it would be, in just a few years, the best in Europe. More evidence emerged in a report by Cancer Research UK. Young cancer deaths have halved over the last 40 years.
21st March 2013
GP practices forced to join their CCG against their will
Two practices have been forced to join their CCG by the NHS Commissioning Board against their wishes, in a move GP leaders say makes a mockery of Government claims the new bodies reflect implicit GP support for their reforms. The NHS Commissioning Board used its legal powers to force two practices in Essex to become members of NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG and NHS Thurrock CCG.
18th March 2013
Foundation Trusts more likely to miss A&E waiting times target
A report by Monitor, the orgainsation that will ensure that competition rather than collaboration underpins the operation of the NHS, says that 32 of the 88 trusts that missed their A&E target are foundation trusts. The target for A&E waiting times says been watered down by the Coalition government from 98% to 95% of patients must being seen within a 4 hour wait. Under the Coalition's NHS Act all trusts will become foundation trusts. Foundation status gives greater operational freedom to the trust - it can sell its assets (land, buildings etc.), break national pay agreements (always downwards it seems) ..... and be so concerned with finances, e.g. Mid Staffs, that it misses A&E waiting times?
Commissioning Board gives CCGs full marks for GP engagement ....really?
CCGs have been given an almost complete clean bill of health from the NHS Commissioning Board in their engagement with member practices, despite claims from LMCs (Local Medical Committees) that they have a way to go to ensure shared values with their member practices. Here in Brighton 74% of GPs who responded to a survey said "no more privatisation" - engagement would seem to imply that the Brighton CCG will follow suit. But will the CCG members take notice of local GPs? Could it be that GPs with interest in private health firms have got themselves onto CCGs? See "Conflict of interest fears of GPs with private healthcare involvement" 14th March.
14th March 2013
Bereaved mother blames privates involvement for son's death
The mother of a seven week old baby who died as the result of inadequate out-of-hours care by Harmoni, now owned by Care UK, has vowed to fight commercialisation of the NHS. The child developed into pneumonia that went untreated despite repeated calls and visits over the course of five days to the out-of-hours service run by private contractor Harmoni.
Leaked letter reveals the real intentions of government's NHS policies
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges says that ministers appear to have reneged on previous agreements with the profession, by attempting to force through parliament new rules that would greatly expand the role of private operators across the NHS. The body expressed grave concern that the government is planning to privatise large sections of the NHS by stealth – in breach of previous promises to doctors to limit the role of the private sector.
Rewritten rules still threaten enforced privatisation
Lord Hunt has said that not all services need to be offered to the private sector, but the redrafted regulations still state that commissioners can only award contracts without competition if they are certain no other provider could offer the service. RCGP chair Professor Clare Gerada said: ‘I still cannot see a circumstance where you would only have one potential provider. If there is one legal challenge, CCGs will be scared'.
Government adviser admits GPs do not have faith in reforms
For the last 18 months, DH commissioning adviser Edna Robinson has produced a report every six weeks for NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson based on feedback from clinicians. She warned that grassroots GPs remain to be convinced about NHS reform.
Conflict of interest fears of GPs with private healthcare involvement
One in three GPs on CCG boards have private healthcare interests. Overall 426 (36%) of the 1,179 family GPs on a board of one of the 211 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in England have an interest in for-profit firms. The rules say that those GPs with private interests cannot vote on the award of a contract to their private company. But why not insist that GPs cannot have any private healthcare involvement if they sit on Clinical Commissioing Groups?
4th March 2013
Royal Colleges say ministers have reneged on promises about the NHS Act
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges says that ministers appear to have reneged on previous agreements with the profession, by attempting to force through parliament new rules that would greatly expand the role of private operators across the NHS.
GP leader says "GPs will walk unless commissioning rules are changed"
The Government must change the wording of its rules over the use of competition, or risk GPs deserting the entire clinical commissioning process, says the leader of the organisation representing CCGs. Dr Michael Dixon, interim president of NHS Clinical Commissioners, said the rules risked forcing commissioners through expensive procurement processes and opened them up to expensive legal claims.
RCGP leader says competition rules must be scrapped
In a letter to health minister Lord Howe, RCGP chairwoman Professor Clare Gerada demanded a meeting with the government to discuss NHS regulations. Dr Gerada wrote: ‘It is clear to us that, as they currently stand, the regulations will be interpreted by CCGs as requiring services to be put out to competition."
Privatised OOH service "wholly inadequate"
The private company, Harmoni, who run the out-of-hours service in North London was critcitised by a coroner at the inquest of a seven-week-old baby boy died while in the care of the privatised GP service. The baby previously fit and well, died last November, having contracted a routine cold which developed into a lung infection that went untreated.
28th February 2013
NHS Act: Section 75 regulations set to privatise the entire NHS
Perhaps you haven't heard of these regulations or don't know the details. Well this parliamentary briefing by Keep Our NHS Public explains all. Despite lots of assurances from Lansley and Cameron, all of which are documented here, the NHS Act is about privatisation. It is true that Hunt says he's going to rewrite them to assure LibDems. But we've heard this before somewhere - no doubt he's listening as well.
Hospitals increasingly missing cancer treatment targets
Hospitals and other providers are judged against a national DH target that 85% of patients should wait no longer than 62 days to begin treatment after urgent referral for suspected cancer from their GP. But in the last three months of 2012, hospitals in England missed this target in patients with lung, gastrointestinal and urological cancers, although they surpassed it for breast and skin cancers.
Commissioning Board says GP co-ops should do out-of-hours
Setting up cooperatives to cover out-of-hours services should be incentivised so GPs regain ownership, according to NHS Commissioning Board deputy medical director Professor Steve Field. It's interesting that the NHSCB is saying this, promoting cooperatives that is.
80% of third wave of authorised CCGs face restrictions
Eighty percent of CCGs authorised by the NHS Commissioning Board still face restrictions on their independence just six weeks before they take over from PCTs. All but 33 CCGs in the first three waves have been authorised with 'conditions' - meaning they were unable to meet in full the 119 criteria for authorisation set out by the NHSCB, and will face additional checks on their work. A total of 56 third-wave CCGs were authorised with conditions, including five that could be forced to work with staff appointed directly by the NHSCB to oversee improvements because of the severity of their failings.
21st February 2013
Regulations make it impossible for the NHS to remain publicly run
The Health and Social Care Act was the primary legislation, but most of the real effect of new laws come with regulations slipped out quietly. This article demonstrates what the Act was really about. "The new regulations effectively close down the possibility of awarding a contract without competition, saying that this can only occur in very exceptional circumstances." The new regulations grant Monitor sweeping statutory powers as a regulator to intervene and enforce competition.
Doctors hit back over Lord Howe claims
The GP committee of the BMA has replied to the assertion by the Tory lord, see 14th February below, that 2013 is going to be "..the best year for the NHS". The chairman of the committee said that "..every GP knows it's going to be tough".
Cameron: "Someone must take the blame"
But not the man in charge of the Mid Staffs board at the time, who Cameron has promoted to be chief of the NHS under the new Act. Of Sir David Nicholson, the PM is said to have"...retained full confidence in Sir David." Yeah, that's right, take it out on staff who were following Nicholson's orders.
18th February 2013
Mid Staffs: "hitting targets and balancing books squeezes out quality"
This article emphasises the real message of the Francis Report that the hospital board were more concerned with targets and finance than real healthcare issues. "The culture was that if targets were met and the books balanced, then the hospital had done its job." The overwhelming message we get from media reports of the Francis Report, check out this morning's Telegraph headline showing a picture not of a suited manager but a nurse, is that it was down to failings of individual care staff members.
Government downpaying low income in poverty measurement
This article is not specifically about health news except that the poor need healthcare more owing, in no small measure, to their genuine poverty. But such is the dominance of the government's agenda to paint the poor as feckless skivers rather than victims of a banker-created economic crisis, that makes this article worth a read.
"Swathes" of public health funds chopped
A survey has found that primary care organisations have cut millions from public health campaigns like stop smoking services. Under the NHS Act public health has moved from the NHS to local councils. Despite government statements about ring-fencing it from financial constraints imposed on municipal funding, fears are that councils will impose further cuts despite reports of an obesity crisis that demand public health campaigns to change children's diets and get them exercising.
14th February 2013
GPs urged to back demand for transparency in private provision
BMA deputy chairman Dr Kailash Chand said GPs should put pressure on their MPs to sign an early day motion (EDM) put forward by Labour MP and health select committee member Grahame Morris. Private providers often hide behind so-called "commercial confidentiality". The EDM demands that private health providers are subject to Freedom of Information requests as are publicly run NHS services.
Tory lord thinks 2013 is going to be "the best year for the NHS"
Earl Howe, who was the government enforcer who drove the Health and Social Care Bill through the House of Lords thinks this. Do you agree? Read the press report that follows this one, and then ask yourself again. Perhaps he means the best year for private health corporation profits.
NHS directors think quality of care is declining
A Kings Fund survey of finance directors found that one in three finance directors of NHS organisations in England believes quality of care has worsened in the last year. They point to the coalition's NHS reforms and an accompanying high turnover of senior staff for the apparent drop in care quality. A half of all local council leaders of adult social care said care had declined in the last year.
A&E waits are "highest for a decade"
A Kings Fund report, presumably the same one as in the above item, found from October to December 2012 more than 232,000 patients waited more than four hours. That is a rise of 21% compared with the same period in 2011 and the highest figure for those months since 2003. A&E doctors blamed a combination of rising pressures and staff shortages, i.e. budgets cuts.
Nicholson ignored warnings that "patients were in danger"
The sacked head of United Lincolnshire Hospitals Trust, chief executive Gary Walker, said "I want David Nicholson to be held to account. I warned him that this was going to happen. I warned him that Lincolnshire was going to become the next Mid Staffordshire. He didn’t investigate those concerns, and now look what’s happened". The trust is one of five being investigated for high mortality rates following the Francis Report into Mid Staffs.
11th February 2013
CQC 'cannot guarantee it won't spot another Mid Staffs'
A Telegraph report quotes David Prior, a former Tory MP and recently chair of Norwich and Norfolk Universirt Hospitals Trust, as saying that the CQC "...at this time, we can’t give a guarantee that we would spot another problem similar to Stafford."
Mid Staffs used to justify reforms
The Francis Report has been portrayed as if the scandal at Mid Staffordshire Hospital had nothing to do with managers' preoccupation with their Trust's finances rather than than care of patients; a point brought home by Polly Toynbee in the Guardian, and in a report in the Morning Star.
The growing opposition to NHS privatisation
The Morning Star reports that across North-West England and London especially, people are showing their outright opposition to private firms involvement in their NHS. In response the Greater Manchester Health Emergency open conference will be held on Saturday February 16 from 12-4.30pm at the Friends Meeting House, Mount Street, Manchester.
7th February 2013
Francis Report: who is to blame?
The Guardian gives a summary of the organisational failures, primarily with the board of the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust. It's worth noting here that the trust achieved foundation status in 2008. Foundation Trusts are " ...not directed by government...are free to keep surpluses and borrow to invest", and can dispose of hospital sites or excess land as it sees fit. The theory is that freedom from government oversight improves healthcare; which of course is the spin that has been attached to the new NHS Act.
Francis Report: Cameron thinks target pay for nurses is the answer
Our prime minister's response to the Francis Report is to imply that the failures of Mid Staffs were down to the personal failures of nurses, so performance pay is the answer. So David, despite Robert Francis QC clearly saying that "..that almost all the organisations within the NHS, both in and around the hospital and nationally, failed to some degree...", your solution is to ignore organisational failure and to imply it was a failure of the individual's on the care front line? For a reaction that aligns with Francis's conclusions see "What Francis has done is expose a new unhealthy, managerially obsessive culture".
Despite failings Harmoni is awarded the OOH contract
This blog reported, see 17th December, on the failures of a private company, Harmoni, in running Hackney's out-of-hours GP service. The contract was reviewed and a local GP-led group submitted a bid, but the PCT decided to stick with Harmoni.
4th February 2013
GP leader of Lewisham campaign considers litigation after Hunt decision
Dr Louise Irvine says legal action to counter Hunt's decision to downgrade Lewisham A&E and its maternity unit is a possibility. The successful demonstration last month was supported by thousands; "25000 people don't just melt away" she said.
Lewisham CCG leader may resign over A&E decision
Is the Health and Social Care Act really about giving control of the NHS to local doctors? So why is Hunt deciding the fate of Lewisham hospital when local doctors are in revolt about the threat to its A&E? The chair of the Lewisham CCG may resign over Hunt's decision. Should Lewisham take the financial hit for the PFI debts of another trust? Shouldn't the government take responsibility for encouraging such stupid financial deals?
31st January 2013
Some CCGs face having staff imposed upon them by Board
The outcome of the second wave of CCG authorisations has resulted in the NHS Commissioning Board possibly imposing its own appointed staff on to CCGs as a condition of their authorisation. CCG have to be authorised by the NHSCB, a procedure CCGs must pass to be allowed to operate,
Monitor claims that the use of competition is up CCGs
Chairman of Monitor, the organisation who's duty is to ensure that competition exists in the NHS, says that the use of competition is for ther individual CCGs to decide. But this may be a clever tactic, because he goes on to say "...as long as competition is used fairly" ......Guess who's job it is to say whether it's "fair" or not?
Are private health firms to be given tax breaks as well?
Is Monitor going to allow private health corporations off corporation tax, or any other benefit, to achieve what it calls a "Fair Playing Field". See Monitor's chairman's letter in the Guardian.
14th January 2013
Americans are "sicker and die younger"
A damning report into the health of US citizens ought to be read by those who in the US's recent debate on healthcare reform claimed that they don't want so-called "socialised" medicine. The report by the National Institute of Health compared the health of its citizens with those of 16 developed countries and found that the US does badly in nine specific areas. Amongst them are the highest infant mortality rate, the highest rate of adolescents pregnancies, the second highest HIV rate, the highest obesity rates and of course highest homicides.
GP demands a meeting with Hunt over Lewisham A&E closure threat
A GP leading the campaign to "Save Lewisham Hospital" has demanded a meeting with Jeremy Hunt over the report on the financial crisis into PFI debt laden South London Trust. It recommends the amalgamation of two hospitals, causing the closure of Lewisham's A&E and maternity departments. But Lewisham Hospital isn't in South London Trust's area. Why should the people of Lewisham suffer because the board of a neighbouring trust were stupid enough to employ the financial trick of buying hospital buildings on future income?
House of Lords: NHS reforms unlikely to improve healthcare
A committee was doubtful that the NHS reforms in England would enable more people to be treated outside of hospital or tackle the issues of an ageing society. Well when the NHS's non-medical costs will rocket because of financial and legal bills introduced by Lansley's Act, what else would you expect?
17 hospitals have dangerously low staffing levels
The Care Quality Commission has said that 17 hospitals have been issued with warnings that they did not have enough staff “to keep people safe and meet their health and welfare needs”. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, said there was “no excuse” for hospitals not to provide adequate staff". So Jeremy, please explain, you make cuts in the NHS budget and then complain when there's not enough staff in hospitals? I know, let's get rid of management consultants like McKinsey!
9th January 2013
CQC does not command public confidence
The Commons health select committee has said the purpose of the Care Quality Commission is to be seen by the public as a guarantor of acceptable care standards in all institutions of care - homes, clinics and hospitals. The CQC was established in 2008 by the combination of 3 regulatory organisations but has failed to command respect from professions and public. A report by the health committee states that it has a long way to go.
Why doesn't the report say what caused South London's financial crisis?
A special administrator's report on PFI-debt ridden South London Healthcare NHS Trust has caused an angry response from doctors and patients. It recommends "dissolving" the trust and merging one of South London's PFI hospitals at Woolwich with nearby Lewisham, but Lewisham is not part of the South London trust and would lose its A&E in the merge. South Lodon Trust has 3 hospitals, two of them rebuilt using PFI.
Uncoordinated NHS reforms risks to public health
Health and Wellbeing Boards set up under the NHS Act are putting in place inadequate organisational structures that may impair public health improvements, said Professor Chris Bentley, giving evidence to the commumities and local government select committee of the Commons.
7th January 2013
1 in 5 CCG board members have conflicts of interest
A Pulse exclusive shows that more than one in five CCG board members have financial interests in private healthcare providers exposing them to possible conflicts of interest when commissioning services. An investigation of the registered interests of nearly 900 CCG board members’ shows that 23% are directors, owners, partners or shareholders in private healthcare providers, or have a family member with an interest in a private healthcare provider
Burnham repeats that he would repeal the H&SC Act
In a video interview with GP Online Labour's shadow health minister says that a Labour government will keep CCGs but get rid of part three of the Act, the compertitive regime, and restore a collaborative NHS. He also called for an 'honest' debate about funding and said that Labour will make the NHS a major issue at the next election.
NOA report reveals rationing of healthcare in more than half of trusts
A National Audit Office report on how the so-called "efficiency" savings are affecting the NHS shows that hospitals in certain areas have stopped offering elective treatments for smokers or people above a certain level of obesity, while in others cateract patients are being forced to wait until their eyesight deteriorates further before being allowed surgery.
Astrnomical price-tag of the NHS Commissioning Board
A Sunday Express exclusive reveals that the new NHS Commissioning Board, which officially starts in April, will cost £527million a year to run. It flies in the face of Government promises that sweeping NHS reform would spell an end to “top down bureaucracy”, and is "...made up of layer upon of layer of managers, with middle-ranking bosses netting salaries four times the national average and those at director level commanding wages higher than the Prime Minister." It has already asked for extra funds in the 2013-14 budget because of “additional staffing requirements”. Original estimate of 3,500 staff has now almost doubled to 5,900.
"A ventilator not avaliable" - report on death in private NHS clinic
A man who's sister, who was previously in good health and who died from complications following a knee replacement, urges NHS Hertfordshire to close its privately-run treatment centre. The Surgicentre in the grounds of Stevenage's Lister Hospital is run by Carillion, formerly part of Tarmac. It has already been investigated over potential failings in the cases of six patients who suffered irreversible sight loss after treatment. Local doctors are advising patients against having procedures done at the centre,
AQP gives over 100 private firms NHS contracts
Department of Health figures show that private firms like Virgin and Specsavers are cashing-in on the NHS Act and will be providing basic NHS care, such as physiotherapy, dermatology, hearing aids, MRI scanning and psychological therapy. As predicted by opponents of the Act the NHS is fragmenting as the number of providers increases dramatically. The BMA's GP committee chairman warned that private providers would start advertising to attract and retain patients, and that NHS organisations would have to follow suit in order to remain viable. Some local hospital services would go out of business in the face of competition under AQP.
20th December 2012
Poverty removed as a factor in funding
The NHS Commissioning Board has removed poverty as a means of distributing NHS funds. Poorer people, by virtue of their work (or lack of it), lifestyles and housing, have a higher need of health services, so this used to be reflected in the NHS funding formula. But poverty will no longer be a factor in the way the Coalition government, in the guise of the NHS Commissioning Board, will share out the NHS budget.
A personal account of the corporatisation of primary care
A patient's point of view when The Practice plc, the UK's largest operator of privatised NHS GP practices, took control of a surgery in Camden. The Practice plc was acquired by American healthcare giant United Health, and this 82 year old's local surgery was closed down.
NHS trusts heavily involved with private providers
Freedom of information requests to more than 100 NHS trusts revealed hospitals were spending millions of pounds buying beds in private hospitals. This marketisation of healthcare presents ethical issues for the NHS. For example, the Sheffield teaching hospitals NHS foundation trust has spent on average £1.3m annually for the last three years at BMI's Thornbury hospital, yet at the same time the NHS hospital's medical director, Michael Richmond, had a private clinic at the Thornbury.
What exactly will Labour's policy to the NHS be at the next election?
You won't be surprised that it's not formulated yet, but this article by Labour's shadow health minister for care and older people starts to consider this issue. Should Labour say "we will reinstate the old structures?" or should it say "we will leave the NHSCB, CCGs, Healthwatch and all the other bodies as they are?"
17th December 2012
Private out-of-hours service accused of "putting patients health at risk"
Harmoni, originally a doctors cooperative but now a private company recently bought by Care UK, stands accused of risking lives because cuts have lead to excessive workload of appointments. Medics critical of the company allege it has cut costs to the point of making the service unsafe. In one case a seven-week-old baby with a suspected respiratory infection died despite repeated calls to the service over several days,
Former Tory chief to be chairman of the CQC
As predicted in this blog, see 3rd December, a former deputy chairman of the Conservative party is to head the Care Quality Commission. David Prior is currently chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Dame Jo Williams had resigned in September following her role in the attempted sacking of a fellow board member.
AQP private providers outnumber NHS by two to one
A Pulse exclusive reveals that private companies outnumber NHS providers by two to one under the rollout of AQP across the country for community and mental health services. Official DH figures show that 87 providers have qualified under AQP and are now able to provide services across England, of which 38 were from the independent sector and just 26 were NHS.
13th December 2012
Doubts over NHS "efficiency" savings
The National Audit Office has questioned government claims that it has made £5.8 billion savings this year, towards the £20 billion 2015 target. It could only verify £3.4bn of the £5.8bn efficiency savings supposedly achieved by the NHS in England in 2011-12. While savings made under the Nicholson Challenge are meant to be recurrent, £520m of the £5.8bn alleged savings were non-recurrent, and so "the NHS will have to find replacement savings in future years",
AQP causes GP appointments overrun
Having to explain the options that Any Qualified Provider gives to patients is causing pressure on GP's time. Acording to BMA "The reality is that for the vast majority of patients simply want a good local service and "choice" in political terms is not high on their agenda, and it therefore is rarely raised by many patients."
Commissioning is becoming 'smothered'
Are GPs really signing up enthusiastically to the constitution of their CCG? wonders Dr Kailash Chand.
10th December 2012
Ali Parsi to stand down as Circle chief
Circle, the company that took over the running of Hinchingbrook Hospital from a PFI debt-laden trust, reports that its founding merchant banker Ali Parsi is standing down as its chief executive.
CCG constitutions gags their GPs
Online medical publication Pulse reports that hundreds of GPs are being asked to sign legal agreements that prevent them from saying anything about their CCG in public. The BMA says in response doctors should be ‘free to say what the hell they like’.
Responses to media reports of poor nursing
Ex psychiatric nurse Jo Brand says nurses are not to blame, they are an easy target - it's rotten management that's the problem. Whereas the Guardian's Ellie Mae O'Hagan says it's politically expedient to blame substandard NHS care upon cold-hearted staff rather than disastrous health policies. An interesting first paragraph of this article tackles the politically-relevant way that problems in publicly-owned services are framed as opposed to stories in privately-owned industry. In addition, Guardian letter writers come to nurses' defence.
Privacy campaigners wary of Cameron's plans for DNA database
David Cameron will this week unveil plans for a DNA database capable of storing every British citizen's DNA records. Genewatch claims anyone with access to the database could track an individual using their DNA and then identify their relatives. The coalition is expected to allow people who do not want their data stored to "opt out", which will go some way to alleviating concerns from human rights groups.
6th December 2012
Coalition claims on NHS spending rebuked by watchdog
The UK Statistics says Cameron and Hunt are wrong to say that under the Coalition NHS spending has increased. In a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, the chairman, Andrew Dilnot, said a detailed analysis of the best-available Treasury data suggested real-terms health spending was lower in 2011/12 than in 2009/10.
Private consultancy firms paid millions by CCGs
An On-line Pulse exclusive reveals that clinical commissioing groups have paid millions to management consultants to prepare for commissioing. So this explains why NHS spending is "increasing" and yet patients are waiting longer for healthcare.
3rd December 2012
Two tier health service may be on the way
The Nuffield Trust says that if the NHS budget is frozen and savings are not possible then it will lead to "..the rich being able to pay for essential care rationed because of austerity policies". Jeremy Hunt has said he cannot make any promises about whether the NHS budget could be ringfenced.
Half the population think taxes should rise to protect the NHS
A poll by Ipsos Mori for the Nuffield Trust found that one in two wanted to “increase taxes in order to maintain the level of spending needed to keep the current level of care and services provided by the NHS”.
Hospital consultant says there's an admissions crisis
Dr Andrew Goddard, a director of the Royal College of Physicians, says "If you talk to doctors in this country they would say that the system is straining to burst, particularly in winter, but now it's increasingly happening the rest of the year."
Tories want another Tory to become head of CQC
Former Conservative deputy chairman David Prior is Jeremy Hunt's preferred candidate for the chair of the Care Quality Commission. The Secreatry of State has invited him to speak at a health select committee meeting and then will decide. Hmm....
BMA fears legal action over patient pledge cards
The BMA has been advised that GPs could be open to legal action if they encourage patients to complete pledge cards that asked for their healthcare not to be provided by private firms.
Hunt says competition has an important role in the NHS
He reveals what he really thinks of the NHS in saying that competition will make sure "...we don’t have complacency, that there is innovation, that we have a system that is open to new ideas and the independent and voluntary sectors can help create that spur to innovation." Funny, but he doesn't say that competition will make sure the NHS is open to fragmentation and cherry picking by health corporations.
29th November 2012
Cameron's "sham" listening exercise
Website Social Investigations reveals how private health firms were working with Downing Street during the "pause" to ensure new legislation went ahead, even though there was supposed to be a "listening exercise". There was no "pause" as the government claimed at the time nor a temporary halt to its efforts to introduce more competition within the NHS through its controversial health and social care bill.
"Cracks are beginning to appear in the NHS" - Kings Fund
A Kings Fund report reveals that there "..are huge risks, particularly in ensuring that quality of care does not suffer with the further financial squeeze. The stakes for patients could not be higher".
26th November 2012
Support for the reforms take a dive
An Ipsos Mori poll, reported in online Pulse, says 7 in 10 people interviewed thought cuts and the involvement of the private sector will mean that the NHS will get worse. 43% said they expected the Government’s reforms to make things worse, compared with 38% in last December’s survey. An interesting and repeatable summing up of the Coalition reforms in a comment to this article, referring to the role of GPs under the Act, is that GPs are "..a conscripted messenger, not the architect."
CCGs to inherit multi-million pound debts from PCTs
CCG leaders are likely to be saddled with multi-million pound deficits from April next year, despite previous Government assurances they would not inherit legacy debts, reports Pulse. The NHS Commissioning Board revealed it is looking again at the issue of CCG debt. It is due to make an announcement in early December to clarify what will happen to any deficits or surpluses left over by PCTs. Earlier this year ministers were continuing to insist debts would not be passed on to CCGs.
Patient choice overridden to divert patients to ISTC
Pulse reports that NHS Swindon has attracted fierce criticism because its referral management centre, the organisation that now ntervenes between GP and hospital in the refarrel process, has overridden the patients selection and referred to their ISTC.
NHS Commissioning Board outlines how CCGs should make cuts
NHSCB official says that cuts made by CCGs in so-called "service re-design" must be evidence-based, that is, "...backed by evidence of patient engagement and clinician input".
The revolving door from government to lobbying
Sean Worth, who was No 10's adviser on NHS privatisation until June, became a part-time strategic adviser to MHP Communications last month. The firm's clients include the Priory Group, which sells mental health care services to the NHS; Laing O'Rourke and Interserve, construction firms with hospital private finance initiative interests; and private equity firm Hg Capital, which owns care home operator Voyage Group.
22nd November 2012
ITV's Exposure programme: The effect of removing the private income cap from NHS hospitals
A 'must watch' TV programme, it demonstrates how hospitals are gearing up for more private patients with exclusive up-market wings for those rich enough to pay. The NHS Act has removed the low limit on how much revenue a hospital can take in private income, now it can have up to 49% of beds occupied by private patients. The progamme follows the case of the death of a breech baby due to the obstretician being called away to a straight forward birth involving a private patient.
Individual Funding Requests increase
Where a doctor considers a medical procedure, which is not normally available on the NHS, is warranted, s/he makes an IFR to the local PCT. So the number of IFRs can be seen as a measure of NHS rationing; when the range of NHS healthcare is restricted so the IFRs will increase. An exclusive piece by GP Online establishes that IFRs increased by 19% between 2010-11 and 2011-12.
Women are under-represented
A GP Online article demonstrates that top jobs are not occupied by women within the professional medical bodies. The facts are; a total of 46% of GPs are women, but just 21% of GPC members and 24% of UK BMA council members are women. At the Royal College of GPs, 31% of council members are women.
19th November 2012
NHS job cuts are harming care say nurses
The number of nurses being laid off is so critical that the NHS's ability to care is under threat, says the Royal College of Nursing. The loss of more than 6,000 nursing posts in England since the coalition took power in May 2010 means the NHS "is sleepwalking into a crisis", the nurses' union claimed.
Launch of the NHS Action Party
A political party dedicated to opposing NHS privatisation has been launched by medics unhappy with the involvement of the private sector in the NHS. Drs Richard Taylor, who woh a West Midlands seat in 2001, and Clive Peedell, a consultant oncologist, say they will put up candidates against Cameron, Lansley and Osbourne, and pro-market Labour politicians too.
Did you see Dispatches "Getting Rich on the NHS"?
The Channel 4 programme focused on Virgin Health's involvement with a surgery in Northamptonshire. Patients say that when Virgin took over from the NHS seeing a doctor became a challenge, the clinic became far too reliant on locum GPs and the company was not keeping its commitment to provide extended hours access to doctors. Whereas in Teeside Virgin runs sexual health services. It repeatedly missed targets on the numbers of people screened for Chlamydia and an internal memo revealed staff were asked to take home testing kits to use on friends and family to help make the numbers up. See also the Bureau of investigative Journalism article on the programme.
Private company provision in NHS is growing
For certain conditions private companies now provide one in five procedures in the NHS. Private companies, mainly through ISTCs, now carry out 17% of hip replacements (11,500 operations), 17% of hernia repairs (9,000) and 6% of gall bladder removals (3,000) annually in England. Their share of NHS patients grew rapidly between 2006-07 and 2010-11 after Labour's promotion of "so-called" patient choice. Ed - my wife had a knee replacement at an ISTC, but there was no choice. This is where all knee replacements for the hospital trust are carried out. Take or leave it!
16th November 2012
GPs will quit CCGs if red tape not cut
Bexley GP Dr Howard Stoate, the former Labour MP for Dartford and chairman of the Bexley CCG said a 'heavy touch' approach from the government risked killing the NHS reforms. If the CCG could 'get through authorisation smoothly', GPs' optimism could be restored, he said. 'It depends how the government wants to play it. If the government wants a light touch, it can work; if it insists on a heavy touch, it will kill it.'
Poor data collection will risk public health
You may know that one of the many criticisms of NHS Act was that it will undermine public health due to poor health data collection. Well now the chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, Andrew Dilnot, has written to Jeremy Hunt to say exactly this. He says that unless problems with official health statistics were addressed, it may be difficult for the current reforms to improve services. Yeah, this, privatisation and all the other issues with the Act!
12th November 2012
Government contracts handed out without querying promises
Public Accounts Committee says contracts are handed out to firms that have "over-promised and under-delivered". Chairman Margaret Hodge saya she has a list of contracts where "the taxpayers are too often left paying the price when companies fail to run public services properly." Her comments come after Circle, the private company brought in to save PFI debt-laden Hinchingbrooke hospital, was found to be more than £2 million behind in its plan to turn it around.
PFI debts are crippling NHS services throughout the country
The Public Accounts Committee reports that the government will have to hand out an estimated £1.5 billion to health authorities crippled by PFI debts. Problems of increasing waiting times and rationing of services are bound to get worse.
GPs have become millionaires over sale of out-of-hours service
The purchase of Harmoni, reported here on the previous news, see below, has made its former GP owners very rich. Harmoni was originally a GP cooperative started in Harrow in '96. It won the contract to run the non-emergency phone line 111, but the unsuccessful bidder, Care UK, has now bought the company.
8th November 2012
All CCGs have applied for authorisation
Every clinical commissioning group in England have taken the first step in gaining authorisation from the NCB (NHS Commissioining Board). There are 3 outcomes; first is 'authorised', the second is 'authorised with conditions' and the third is 'established but not authorised'. Isn't "localism" wonderful?
Harmoni, the firm chosen to run the non-emergency 111 phone line, bought by Care UK
Care UK was beaten in the race for the government contract to run the 111 phone operation by Harmoni, a firm that started as a Harrow GP cooperative in 1996. Now Care UK has bought Harmoni, the successful bidder. So the firm not thought good enough to run it ..... is now going to run it. That's the thing about the competitive market - you always get the best!!
Private firm running NHS hospital could make £31 million
Circle, set up by former Goldman Sachs banker Ali Parsi, is the firm that now runs Hinchingbrooke NHS hospital after the Cambridgeshire NHS Trust became PFI debt-ridden. It has now been estimated by the National audit Office that Circle could make £31 million in the next decade if it meets its target of paying off the £40 million debt. The hospital already has some empty wards, more are expected to follow if the target is to be met.
5th November 2012
NHS usage of the private sector increasing
Data from the NHS Information Centre shows that NHS funded operations by the private sector increased in a year by 10%. Labour spokesman siad "...the government is hell-bent on opening up the NHS to private companies to pick off thousands of operations". Cameron said he wants to turn the NHS into "... a great business opportunity" and we're seeing just the start of this.
Cameron underbriefed about NHS reforms
If you believe what Michale Portillo is reported to have said, and I leave that entirely to you, then Cameron did not realise the full extent of the NHS reforms. If this is true then surely Cameron is not in control of his prime ministerial brief, and then why did he replace Lansley with arch-right winger Hunt? Does it add up? I'm not convinced.
Patient choice is "a mockery"
The general practice online publication Pulse says for GPs it boils down to Choose and Book, the government system that is plagued with problems. Choice is trotted out as the cover for privatisation. But do patients want choice? Where's the evidence? There isn't any, patients want good local services.
1st November 2012
Osbourne's raid on the NHS
Health Service Journal reveals that under the Coalition the Department of Health has returned nearly £3 billion to the Treasury, despite the NHS having £20 billion of cuts.
29th October 2012
Hospital privatisation is possible outcome for PFI debt-laden South London NHS Trust
A report by a 'special administrator', Matthew Kershaw, appointed to investigate the financial difficulties of the hospital trust states 'without action the trust, already losing £1m a week, would accumulate a deficit of more than £240m by the end of 2015'. The financial difficulties are the result of PFI debts; the South London NHS Trust runs three hospitals, two of which, Princess Royal in Bromley and Queen Elizabeth in Woolwich were built by PFI. This year alone the trust will pay £61m in charges and interest, nearly 15% of the trust's turnover, and the final PFI payment is not due until 2032, The report by Kershaw has cost £2 million!!
QOF overhaul attacked by BMA
The chairman of the GP committee of the BMA said government plans to change QOF were 'politically motivated'. Introduced in 2004 as part of the General Medical Services Contract, the Quality and Outcomes Framework is a voluntary incentive scheme for GP practices in the UK, rewarding them for how well they care for patients. The QOF contains groups of indicators, against which practices score points according to their level of achievement. The chairman, Dr Laurence Buckman, said the plans would introduce 'unworkable targets and siphon off cash for "politcally-driven" enhanced services'.
Safegaurding alerts issued for patients moved from Winterbourne View
Many patients who were moved from the care home that was the subject of the Panorama investigation have since had safeguading alerts raised for them. Safeguarding alerts allow the reporting of possible abuse of vulnerable adults.
25th October 2012
If it's about localism then DH must relinqush control to GPs
Chair of Bexley CCG and former Labour MP Dr Howard Stoate said GPs’ hearts sink when he explains the bureaucracy his CCG has to undergo to be authorised by the NHS Commissioning Board (NHSCB). "On the one hand, localism is the watchword, and on the other hand command and control and centralism is very much the way it is being driven.....If the government want a light touch, it can work, if they insist on a heavy touch, they will kill it."
Commissioning CEO: "Next 6 months incredibly hazardous"
The head of 2 CSUs (Commissioning Support Units) - what PCTs used to do before the Act - also said "...if GPs viewed colleagues working on CCGs as 'going to the dark side', then the CCG had failed."
CCGs look for advice from management consultants
PricewaterhouseCoopers revealed this week it is now working with around 100 CCGs, while KPMG is working with 50 CCGs and Capita around 40. The companies are providing a mixture of short-term support to CCGs and commissioning support units on areas such as governance and authorisation, alongside longer-term advice on how to meet the daunting £20bn efficiency challenge set by the Government’s QIPP agenda. So up go non-medical overheads to the NHS. Do we really need such people to tell us how to run our health service?
22nd October 2012
Cost of implementing NHS reforms rises by £300 million
In a written ministerial statement Jeremy Hunt has admitted that the cost of implementing the Health and Social Care Act is in excess of £1500 million. This includes redundancy costs due to the dismissal of staff who worked for PCTs of £630 million. Increasingly the adminstration of healthcare will be farmed out to management consultants and private companies under new rules laid down by the government. The lunatics are definitely in charge!
BMA considering supporting an opt out of private healthcare under the NHS Act
BMA Council has agreed to explore a plan to produce and promote ‘patient pledge’ cards, which would allow patients to ask their GP to refer them only to publicly-run NHS services, providing the quality of their care would not be compromised, and where an alternative publicly-provided NHS service is available. Private health companies have slammed it, so it must be a good move.
A political party set up to fight NHS reforms recruits members
National Health Action, the political party set up by doctors to ‘stop the destruction of the NHS’, has opened its doors to members. The party, set up by hospital consultants Clive Peedel and Richard Taylor will be officially launched next month. It is calling for the repeal of the Health and Social Care Act and will be putting up 50 candidates in carefully selected general election seats as well as standing in local elections.
15th October 2012
PCTs instructed to privatise services
A Labour Party survey has found that a quarter of PCTs have put services out to Any Qualified Provider following dictat by the government. The survey showed that of the 398 services offered out to AQP, 110 services (27.6%), there was no intention by the PCT to change the provider before the government instructed them to do so.
Government's NHS rationing disproportionately affecting the elderly
A study by the Royal College of Surgeons shows an effect of the government's £20 billion budget cut-back is that older people are denied vital surgery for cancer, hernia or joint replacement. The NHS imposes "cut-offs" based on "age discrimination" using "outdated assumptions of age and fitness".
NHS chief fears reforms will "end in failure"
Sir David Nicholson, head of NHS Act's National Commissioing Board, the body that will oversee the work of commissioning of local doctors, says high-profile, politically driven changes almost always end in disaster. He believes competion "...is very effective when it is used as a rifle shot to deal with specific issues rather than a carpet bombing." However, he failed to support his opinion that competition in healthcare works by citing research that supports his assertion that health systems run on competitive line are better than those run as a public collaborative system, as the NHS was before the new NHS Act; this because there isn't any. See Commonwealth Fund research.
8th October 2012
Judicial review launched after Virgin takeover of Devon services
A Devon mother has launched a judicial review of Devon County Council and Plymouth and Torbay PCTs decision to award a contract for children's services to Virgin Healthcare. The mother, whose children use the existing service, is seeking a judicial review of the decision to award the £132m three-year contract to a firm in the private sector, claiming the authorities failed to properly assess the impact. In July GPs in Devon expressed their view that the founding principles of the NHS were under threat due to the imminent involvement of private health providers.
GMB fights Plymouth Hospital Trusts over lowering wages
The health union GMB said the Trust is going the "wrong way" over its plans to solve its financial difficulties. The Trust plans to bring in regional, which is seen as a pseudonym for lower, wages as disclosed in a leaked document seen earlier this year.
Study shows £800 million spent by government on private consultancy firms in this parliament
Research by Dr Eoin Clarke PhD shows that this sum comprises more than £400m of auditing contracts that have been agreed with private consultants to check the accounts of the new CCGs. In addition, there are the sums spent on 'hit squads' sent into 9 Foundation Trusts and 1 PCT that will make KPMG & McKinsey more than £20million.
4th October 2012
Labour vows to reverse NHS privatisation
Labour's shadow health secretary stated in a conference speech that a Labour government would "...reverse the rapid privatisation of NHS hospitals". Andy Burnham said that hundreds of contracts worth £250 million have been signed in just this week. He said he was against a market in NHS services but not private companies.
Serco to run community services in Suffolk
The private company that runs ferries, electronic tagging of offenders, the Early Warning Missile Defence System at Fylingdales, education support services in Bradford and a host of other government services is to take over community health services in Suffolk. In a £140 million deal Serco will run community nursing, specialist nursing, community hospitals, speech and language therapy and specialist children’s services. As a result pproximately 1,400 members of staff have transferred to the new service, which is now called Suffolk Community Healthcare.
Jeremy Hunt says NHS budget may be cut after next election
The new government Health Secretary said the Conservatives might not protect the £110 billion NHS budget as they did before the last election .....ed - did they? He said it might not be realistic to protect the NHS budget "..we would have to look at the economic situation."
1st October 2012
NCB refuses to overhaul contracts with private providers, despite GP service being traded
The board set up under the NHS Act that will oversee the work of commissioning groups has refused to revise APMS (Alternative Provider of Medical Services) contracts. In 2008 American giant United Health won a contract to run the Camden Road surgery. In 2011 it then sold the contract to another firm, The Practice plc. A year later it shut down, forcing 4700 patients to re-register with other GPs. A report in June this year by Camden council said "..primary care by GPs should not be a commodity traded in the private market" but the NCB has refused to amend contract rules.
How the BBC betrayed the NHS
A report by Open Democracy found in the two years building up to the government’s NHS reform bill, the BBC appears to have categorically failed to uphold its remit of impartiality, parroting government spin as uncontested fact, whilst reporting only a narrow, shallow view of opposition to the bill.
Serco takeover of path lab 'led to clinical and financial failure'
Documents obtained by Corporation Watch under the Freedom of Information Act detailing the running of path labs for Kings College and St Thomas's hospitals reveal 400 clinical incidents including mishandling and losing samples. An £800 million ten year deal involving Serco, a company that specialises in contracts for government services,resulted in the hospitals being forced to lend money to GSTS, the company running the labs.
27th September 2012
Cornwall's out-of-hours fiasco deepens
Serco, the leading private contractor to the government, has admitted that it presented false data to the NHS 252 times on the performance of its out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall.
CCGs plan to limit role of private sector
Some CCGs have taken legal advice and are using the principle of local control and adding clauses to their constitutions that will reject the imposition of AQP, "Any Qualified Provider", the Lansley Act's wording that permits NHS services to tb awarded to the private sector.
"Closing hospitals could improve care"
According to a Royal College of Physicians professor, this would allow hospitals to specialise and to move to 7 day a week organisations.
26th September 2012
Number of frontline nurses falls dramatically
The number of NHS nurses and health visitors has fallen by over 5000 since the coalition took power in 2010, official figures show. Despite ministerial pledges to protect the frontline 700 positions were lost in June alone.
Tory Party Donors benefit from NHS privatisation
More than £10,200,000 has been donated to the Conservatives by people who have since gained NHS contracts. Since the Conservatives came to power, Tory Donors have been handed more than £4,000,000,000 in contracts.
NHS rationing is forcing patients to go private
More patients are going private because the NHS is increasingly cutting back on providing a range of treatments, Dr Clare Gerada, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said it was “incontrovertible” that increased NHS rationing was behind the increase in going private, a trend she described as “very sad”.
Private health contractor admits presenting false data
Private firm Serco, the leading private contractor to the government, has admitted that it presented false data to the NHS 252 times on the performance of its out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall. The revelation raised wide-ranging concerns about oversight of contracting services and has prompted calls for a review of contract.
6th September 2012
Jeremy Hunt is controversial appointment as Health Secretary
Jeremy Hunt's views on abortion and homeopathy have made him a controversial figure to appoint as Health Secretary. Mr Hunt has voiced support for the NHS paying for homeopathy and voted for the abortion limit to be halved.
Health warning over army of NHS 'temps'
NHS trusts are increasingly employing key clinical staff on 'zero hours' contracts which threaten to turn parts of the reformed service into an army of "temps".
NHS rationing is putting health at risk, says doctors' leader Mark Porter
the new British Medical Association's chair of council, says cuts and rationing of drugs may harm patients because of growing rationing being imposed to save money.
30th August 2012
NHS logo used to bolster health companies' profits abroad
The NHS has been the model for healthcare around the world, but under Lansley's Act Alysson Pollock demonstrates how scrupulous health corporations are using the logo to "...front up their unethical, fraudulent and inequitable activities".
Government sends in lawyers and accountants to find savings created by PFI debts
Seven health trusts struggling with PFI repayments have Department of Health officials sent in to find savings to renegotiate contracts.
Private firms asked to help run PFI indebted South London Trust
Private firms like Virgin, Serco and Circle will be invited to bid to run the trust losing £1 million a week because they owe so much to PFI firms .......like Virgin, Serco and Circle - the lunatics are definitely in charge!
Lansley's obesity policy criticised by his own public health adviser
Professor Simon Capewell, who served on Lansley's Public Health Commission while in opposition criticises Lansley's Responsibility Deal as "a pantomime" and said the plan to work together with manufacturers to introduce voluntary cuts to fat, sugar and salt levels in food was like "putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank".
23rd August 2012
Class divide in health widens
A report by the Kings Fund finds that the number of people engaging in risky life style activites falls, but those who do are more likely to have no educational qualifications. The report covers the years 2003 and 2008, a time when the Labour government invested heavily in public health schemes. But would the divide have been greater without these schemes?
Private providers likely to escape toughest regualtion
Following the publication of Monitor's draft guidance it's clear that private health companies will avoid the most stringent regulation. It is likely that mental health provision will be the service that will be offered to the private sector and charities would struggle to find finance to support cessation of their services. Yet another reason why the market isn't suited to our NHS. Note, you need subscriber access to read this article.
Very few patients have registered under 'near work' scheme
The Patient Choice Pilot Scheme lets patients register with a GP practice near their workplace. The scheme piloted in Manchester, Salford, Nottingham and 3 PCT areas in London has not attracted many patients.
20th August 2012
Number of older people living with cancer set to treble
A report based on research by Kings College London says that by 2040 the number of over 65s living with cancer will increase from 1.3 million, as now, to 4.1 million. The biggest increase will be in women with lung cancer. Whereas at present 13% of older people have cancer, by 2040 25% wil have the disease.
Dilnot's £35K cap on social care revived
Lansley indicates that despite having shelved the proposal as too expensive last month, the government is now having a rethink. The Dilnot Report proposed that the maximum anyone should pay towards their care in old age should be £35000.
13th August 2012
Patients lost sight after NHS private clinic treatment
Six patients have suffered irreversible damage to their sight becaue of a lack of proper aftercare following eye surgery at a private clnic run by Clincenta, an operation run by Carillion, the construction firm formerly opwned by Tarmac. It is feared that many more people may similarly suffer after treatment for glaucoma and retinal deterioration. The CQC is investgating the Hertfordshire clinic and local GPs are warned not to refer their patients there.
8th July 2012
Cameron raids NHS funds
The PM is accused of hypocracy after he took back £1400 million of unused NHS budget. Money earmarked for health spending and which the Departemnt of Health chose not to spend was raided by George Osborne. The move was condemned by the Kings Fund, doctors and Labour's Andy Burnham.
Financial austerity used to dismantle the state
So says Dr Gabriel Scally who was employed by the Department of Health as regional director of public health in the South West. He has resigned to fight the government's health policies. He said "I think there's a very deliberate policy across all of the public sector to roll back the achievements that have been made in this country since the second world war – including the NHS – and that financial austerity is being used to pursue an agenda aimed at dismantling the state."
Telehealth - saves lives but not money, so will it happen?
While the full report is delayed, a study indicates that home monitors save lives. But the gpvernment's initial expectations of saving money were too optimistic.
How PFI is crippling the NHS
Professor Allyson Pollock argues that the underlying cause of health trust mergers, reductions in hospital beds and private take-overs of hospitals is Private Finance Initiative debt.
3rd July 2012
More concerns over Serco's health provision
The well known private security firm is facing fresh worries over the health services it provides in Cornwall. The Guardian reports that there are new allegations being made against the company - it is already being investigated by the Care Quality Commission for previous complaints about its care. The new allegations relate to levels of staffing over the Jubilee weekend, with one terminally ill patient waiting six hours for an emergency prescription - by the time a doctor had answered the call the patient had died.
Midwife numbers falling short
A survey by the Care Quality Commission has found that one out of seven of the 141 trusts that provide maternity care don't have the recommended level of midwives, which should be in a ratio of one midwife for every 28 births. This is due to the fact that 4.8% of midwife posts are vacant.
27th June 2012
Drugs and alcohol services being carried out by voluntary sector
There is concern amongst substance misuse experts and trade unions over the transfer of services for treating drug and alcohol addiction from the NHS to voluntary groups. Dr Clare Gerada, chair of the Royal College of GPs, said that 'we are taking services backward'.
South London Healthcare Trust in £150m debt
The trust is to be put in to 'special measures' by the Department of Health over its £150m debt, largely due to a £2.5bn PFI scheme to rebuild two hospitals, which this year cost the trust £61m. A second trust, the Barking, Havering and Redbridge Trust, has been warned that it could be the next trust to go through this process.
21st June 2012
"NHS [is a] supertanker heading for an iceberg"
Research by the NHS Confederation, an organisation of NHS commissioners and providers, finds that half of the 252 health chiefs in the study think that the effect of the reductions in health budgets is that the "quality of care will reduce over the next 12 months".
NHS healthcare is now being rationed
Research reveals that more than 90% of primary care trusts are applying some sort of threshold to limit the number of patients qualifying for medical treatment, despite having been referred by their GP. For example, some are restricting GP referrals for bariatric surgery to BMIs over 50; another restriction is allowing cataract eye surgery on just one eye.
Non-urgent care number 111 increases GP workload
A report into pilot schemes for the new non-urgent care 111 number, which can be manned by call handlers who are likely to be non-medics, finds that the service will increase GP visits, A&E attendance and ambulance call-outs.
6th June 2012
More allegations in Serco scandal
The level of care that Serco is providing to the people of Cornwall is facing further scrutiny, after it has been alleged that only one after hours GP was available to cover the whole county, from midnight to 8am on the night of the 29 May. It has also been claimed that a new system for dealing with phone calls, which replaced trained nurses with staff following a computer generated script, led to people waiting for more than 3 hours for advice.
Supporter of Lansley's health reforms de-registered vulnerable patients
A practice which was run by one of the most prominent supporters of the health reforms, Dr Charles Alessi - who is now the chair of the National Association of Primary Care, has been found to have de-registered patients who were among the most vulnerable in order to save money.
An NHS investigation revealed that last year the Churchill practice in Kingston had let go 48 elderly and disabled care home patients who required high levels of care, as these patients were among the most costly to provide for. The NHS issued a breach of practice notice for removing patients 'predominantly for financial reasons'.
With money becoming an ever more important factor in our healthcare after the latest reforms, could this be a sign of things to come?
29th May 2012
Serco scandal highlights lack of accountability
Jackie Davis identifies the lack of public accountability that will accompany the NHS changes under Lansley's health service reforms, highlighted by the Serco scandal in Cornwall.
28th May 2012
Scandal emerges over Serco out-of-hours contract
Concern has been expressed as long ago as 2007 about Cornwall's contract with Serco. Now the Care Quality Commission has been forced to investigate allegations of under staffing at Serco and the downgrading of the urgency assessment of phone calls to the service. This follows the death in 2010 of a six year old who died of appendicitis after being told by the service to go to bed.
Calls for investigation into mental health deaths
A doctor whose wife, herself a mental heath campaigner, died in a London hospital, is campaigning for an investigation into the high number of deaths of mental health patients. It is thought that the high number of deaths should be put under greater public scrutiny.
24th May 2012
Lansley to favour south by switching NHS funding from deprivation to one based on age
Research from Durham University shows that the founding fundamentals of the NHS are further eroded as Lansley proposes to switch funding distribution based on deprivation to one based on age of residents. For example, this will take £90 million from Knowsley on Merseyside, whereas the leafy shires are likely to see a significant increase.
Funding cuts are depriving those in dire need of cataract surgery
RNIB research has found that patients unable to drive or read are being denied surgery owing to NHS funding cuts, and cost the NHS more in the end,
21st May 2012
Unpaid jobseekers to work as hospital nurses
Sandwell and West Biurmingham Hospital to extend its work experience scheme in which unpaid jobseekers will deliver patient care.
Doctors trained to do the Government's NHS cuts
A doctor reports that his hospital management training course is really about making doctors the scapegoats for government cuts.
Lansley's intentions for commissioning support services revealed
Such is the privatising motives behind the NHS Act that, what PCTs used to do comparatively cheaply, will become free-standing commercial organisations selling their services. The chaotic picture of health service management that is emerging is a one of uncertainy and escalating risks.
National Health Action Party launched
Former MP who in 2001 won the parliamentary seat of Wyre Forest, campaigning to save the A&E department at Kidderminster Hospital, has agreed to become joint leader of a new political party.
17th May 2012
Possible legal challenge over veto of risk register
The damning report by the Information Commissioner of the coalition's refusal to publish the risk register for the Health and Social Care bill has been followed by former shadow health secretary's statement that he hasn't ruled out the possiblility of requesting a judicial review.
14th May 2012
Over 61000 jobs lost in community care
The Royal College of Nursing says that more than 61000 jobs have been lost or put at risk since April 2010. A dossier of evidence shows that health services outside of hospitals are close to collapse. General Secretary Carter said that cuts to district nursing are a false economy because it keeps patients with long term illnesses, particularly the elderly, out of hospital.
Queens speech: Lack of social care bill "unforgiveable"
Richard Vize says there's a failure of leadership at the heart of the government's proposed legislative programme. Social care is in dire need of comprehensive reform, but George Osbourne has blocked it.
10th May 2012
NHS Act Risk Register will never be published
Government exercises the rare right to refuse to publish the Health and Social Care Bill Risk Register. So the public will never know that under the Act there will be no ministerial accountability for the NHS, a fragmentation of services, a postcode lottery of services, in fact an end to a comprehensive National Health Service.
Public sector workers strike over pensions and cuts
400,000 Health workers, civil servants and police are expected to strike today over government cuts.
Eastern European parents fly home because of increasing NHS waiting lists
Strathclyde University study shows that while many came here expecting to improve the prospects for their children, NHS waiting lists have forced them to return to their home countries.
3rd May 2012
Revealed - How Circle will profit from the first NHS privatised hospital
Circle, the private equity backed firm given the contract to run Hinchingbrooke Hospital, will take the first £2 million annually of any surplus that the hospital trust makes. Surpluses over £2 million are shared. What are the chances when the NHS has to make £2000 million cuts, that the hospital trust will have a surplus of more than £2 million? So contrary to the impression given with the fanfare surrounding Citrcle's take over, probably all profits will go to Circle and the only way the heavily-indebted trust can break even is by cutting services to the people of Cambridgeshire.
UK spending on healthcare steadily increased between 1997 and 2010
The most recent data for NHS spending released by the Office of National Statistics shows that spending on the NHS rose steadily between 1997 and 2010. But paradoxically, owing to growth ouststripping the NHS budget, fell in 2010 as a proportion of GDP.
30th April 2012
Waiting times up
A report by the Patients Association shows that waiting times for a range of elective surgery has increased by 6% between 2010 and 2011. For example, the average wait for knee replacement rose from 88.9 days to 93, and for hernia surgery from 70.4 to 78.3.
NCB to have powers to stipulate CCG support staff?
Draft regulation, to be discussed soon, shows that the NHS National Commissioning Board will have powers to control the support services that Commissioning Groups employ. The wording of the 6 criteria demonstrate a leaning towards management consultants, and say that the NCB will have powers to ".. determine the most effective source of support" and will have the option of "...placing a representative on the CCG governing board". The NCB could "make full alternative arrangements for commissioning.". Lansley's plans for the heirarchical relationship between the NCB and CCGs are becoming clearer.
NHS trust to enter the luxury hotel market
Cambridge University Hospital Foundation Trust, clearly keen to demonstrate the "merits" that foundation trust confers, plans to build a huge hotel in its grounds with a commercial partner. So the principle that all managerial consultants preach that underlies outsourced privatisations, that you must focus on your core activities, doesn't seem to have been fully appreciated.
HSC Act inhibits public health data collection
Under the Health and Social Care Act public health data collection, says a report from the BMJ. Health reforms are informed by evidence based on data collected on defined geographical areas, but now this will be based on the shifting populations attached to GP practices.
16th April 2012
Members of APGH revealed to hold financial links to private healthcare companies
Key members of the self proclaimed `impartial` Associate Parliamentary Group for health have been revealed to hold financial links to companies involved in private healthcare. The organisation is one of the preferred sources of information on health as used by parliament, a group that holds a list of members from the private healthcare world.
Glasgow University to head Parkinson's study
A doctor at Glasgow University is to lead the biggest study into the cause of Parkinson’s disease. Dr Kieran Breen, director of research and innovation at Parkinson’s UK commented “This vital new study will help us fill in some of the gaps in our knowledge”.
The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has turned on Number 10 over their failure to tackle obesity endemic
The academy demands tougher and more direct measures, and calls on Andrew Lansley to ditch the government’s inherently flawed approach. Charlie Powel, campaigns director of the children’s food Campaign has commented that “Andrew Lansley should act on this excellent set of robust recommendations, but his track record suggests that he will once more ignore the advice of our best medical experts”
11th April 2012
Mass doctors' strike in the pipeline
NHS managers have drawn up plans to cope with the first ever mass walkout by doctors. If a ballot is returned in favour, services will be withdrawn, with the exception of urgent and emergency care. The strike ballot is "the latest sign of the increasingly hard line being taken by the BMA in its opposition to the health bill"
Andy Burnham has set out labour's defence of the NHS
Andy Burnham has laid out a practical five point programme regarding the damage control and defence of the NHS. He asked NHS leaders to resist the encroachment of charges and restrictions based on lifestyle choices as well as the `postcode lottery`. He has promoted collaboration over competition, and urges a resistance against market destabilisation, asserting that "A vote for labour in May's elections is a vote for the NHS"Hospital cuts given the go ahead
Cuts proposed by Bridport community hospital have been given the green light after councillors decided they would not have a substantial impact. This comes despite the community health campaign's persistant opposition to the changes, which, backed by a 11,000 strong petition, vowed to try to force a judicial review.
New cancer vaccine tested on humans