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Safeguarding the NHS for the future

12th May 2011

Progress made on key commitments on the NHS over the last year:

Marking the first anniversary of the Coalition Government, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley today set out the progress made delivering the health commitments in the Coalition Agreement.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said:

“Over the last 12 months, we've made great progress in building a stronger NHS for the future - from giving patients more choice and control over their care, to reducing bureaucracy and waste in the NHS, whilst keeping performance up.

“We are investing an extra £11.5 billion and reinvesting every penny of efficiency savings back into frontline care, meaning £1.7 billion a year by 2014/15 will be reinvested to improve services for patients.

“We’ve taken swift action to have a cancer drugs fund, recruit more health visitors, rolled out nurse-led unannounced hospital spot-checks, and ensuring proper support is in place for patients being discharged from hospital to prevent unnecessary readmissions. The number of monthly breaches of mixed-sex accommodation has gone down since we started to publish the data. We have also removed bureaucratic targets while keeping waiting times remain broadly stable.

 “We have clear support for the principles of reform and we are listening and reflecting so we can give better effect to those principles. During this pause, there will be over 200 events across the country.  We have already received over 700 letters, over 1000 comments on the website, and 400 responses from patients, public and NHS staff. But we encourage more people to participate and safeguard the future of the NHS.”

Key achievements include:

Giving patients more choice and power:

  • More data easily available to patients and the public than ever before – including weekly publications on MRSA, C. Difficile, and A&E and ambulance performance.
  • Additional money to support people back into their homes after a spell in hospital - £70 million last year, £150 million in 2011/12, and £300 million every year from 2012/13 to 2014/15.
  • Changed the rules on how hospitals are paid to make them responsible for patients for 30 days after discharge, ensuring the best care and best support services for patients after they leave hospital.

Reducing bureaucracy and waste:

  • Every penny saved from efficiencies will be reinvested into frontline services to improve quality for patients, along with the additional £11.5 billion that will be invested in the NHS by 2015.
  • Since May 2010, the NHS has gained 2,500 more doctors and has 3,000 fewer managers.
  • £700 million of savings on NHS IT contracts.

Improving NHS performance:

  • Waiting times remain low, inpatients waiting for an average of around 9 weeks and outpatients for just 3.5 weeks.
  • The number of times patients placed in mixed-sex accommodation without clinical justification has fallen by over 4,200 from 11,802 in December – a fall of 36 per cent.
  • C difficile infections have fallen by a fifth and MRSA infections have fallen by a quarter.

Investing in the future:

  • The new Cancer Drugs Fund will see £600 million invested over the next three years to help cancer patients get greater access to cancer drugs their doctors recommend for them.
  • Up to £400 million over the next four years will mean that a person’s mental health is treated with the same importance as their physical health. This funding will help an extra 3.2 million people access NICE-approved psychological therapies.
  • There is a new drive to recruit 4,200 health visitors over the next four years.

Modernising the NHS:

  • The first ever 'NHS Outcomes Framework' was published in December to shift the NHS focus towards the things which really matter most to patients.
  • Over 6,500 GP practices have come forward to form GP consortia covering almost 90% of the population.
  • 9 in 10 councils are establishing Health and Wellbeing Boards.
  • Clear, national quality standards have been published for eight conditions: chronic kidney disease; dementia; depression in adults; diabetes in adults; glaucoma; specialist neonatal care; stroke; and venous thromboembolism.
  • Up to 25,000 NHS staff – delivering almost £1 billion of NHS community services – are transforming themselves into social enterprises, supporting the Government's Big Society agenda.

The Government introduced the Health and Social Care Bill in January 2011 which set out plans to modernise the health service to ensure it can meet the demands of an ageing population and rising costs of treatment, and safeguard it for the future.

The Government has used the natural break in the Parliamentary timetable to take the opportunity to pause and listen to views on plans to modernise the NHS.  The NHS Future Forum has arranged over 200 separate discussions and meetings to listen to doctors, nurses, patients and public representatives.

This week alone, 11 listening events were arranged for Future Forum members, Ministers and clinical leaders.  We are working with patient organisations and the NHS at local level to arrange meetings in every region across the country.

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Charles Holmes

Thursday 12th May 2011 @ 11:27

1. The waiting time target of 18 weeks has been abolished. This has already resulted in waiting lists getting longer and it will only get worse from now on.
2. There is no longer a limit on the amount of private work that can be carried out in any NHS Hospital.
3. This means quick treatments for the wealthy who can afford to pay and longer waiting times and more suffering for those who cannot.
4. A two tier Health Service is being created based on the ability to pay and not on clinical need.
5. GPs (such as your Doctor) are to be given 80% of the NHS budget to buy hospital and community based health services
6. Most GPs have absolutely no experience of buying these services and will need to employ other people to do this work.
7. GP Consortiums are already contracting with private sector companies which are being set up for this purpose.
8. This means that because tax payers’ money is going into private sector profits and shareholder pockets and there will be less to spend on patient care.
9. Your GP will have less time available to spend with you.
10. GPs will become more concerned about their budgets than patient care.
11. The legislation, if passed, will allow GPs to charge for some of their services.
12. European Procurement Rules mean that NHS services will have to put out to tender and this will allow any willing provider from anywhere in Europe to bid for local NHS Services. This is not most people’s view of local accountability.
13. The inevitable inconsistency of GP Consortium policies will lead to a tremendous increase in Post Code Lottery treatment rather than a carefully considered and consistent nationally approved policy approach.
14. All these changes will lead to a fragmentation of health service provision and risk the disintegration of the NHS as we now know it.
15. More contracts and new legislation will mean more legal advisors, managers and administrative staff needed to write contract specifications, monitor contract compliance, certify and pay invoices and resolve the inevitable complex legal disputes over service specifications and contract interpretation which will occur.
16. This means that the cost savings that the Government claims for these reforms will not be achieved and that it is much more likely that administrative costs will actually increase.
17. The Government says that GP Consortium areas need not be the same as Local Council’s Social Care boundaries.
18. This means that there can be more than one GP consortium in any Social Care area and also they also say that any GP Consortium can operate in more than one Local Council’s Social Care area
19. Managing these additional business relationships, which will be much more complex than if the two services were co-terminus, will inevitably result in duplication of effort and consequential increases in administrative costs, not only for the GP Consortiums but also for the Local Councils whose budgets have already been dramatically reduced by the Government.
20. All these inevitable consequences are the very opposite of what the Government claims it will achieve through these reforms.
21. All these risks clearly demonstrate either a reckless disregard for our future health and welfare or that this Government is totally out of touch with reality.
22. Before the last election Cameron promised that there would be no more Top Down reorganisations of the NHS. This is the biggest Top Down reorganisation since 1948.
23. No one voted for it. It was not in any manifesto.
24. It will not save money.
25. Such a revolution is not needed. Incremental and evolutionary change would provide better sustainable outcomes for patients, the Treasury and the Tax payer
26. There is no evidence that it will improve the quality of health care
27. There is much well informed opposition to these reforms from:
 The Royal College of General Practitioners
 The Royal College of Surgeons
 The Royal College of Nursing
 The Royal College of Midwives
 The British Medical Association
 The NHS Confederation
 The King’s Fund (An independent Charity which seeks to understand how the health system in England can be improved and how to shape policy, transform services and bring about behaviour change).
 Various major health related Charities including Rethink, Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Diabetes UK, National Voices, The British Heart Foundation and The Stroke Association.
 The Liberal Democrat membership and many MPs
 The Labour Party
 Some Conservative Members of Parliament
 Unite
 Unison
 The Local Government Association (particularly about the lack of local accountability for the new GP consortia and commissioning proposals for local populations and vulnerable groups)
 Various national, health related Charities including: Rethink, Alzheimer’s Society, Asthma UK, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Diabetes UK, National Voices, The British Heart Foundation and The Stroke Association.
28. There is only very limited support for these reforms:
 The Prime Minister, Andrew Lansley, George Osborne and other Tory Cabinet Members and most, but not all Tory MPs plus large national and multinational Companies of which Virgin Health Care is but one example.
29. Most GPs are reluctant participants, but have no option to join a consortium if they wish to continue to be funded by the NHS.
30. Over 350,000 have already signed a petition in opposition to these reforms. Why isn’t the Government listening to the public and to the experts who are making their concerns clear, and why are the listening events not available to the public so that these voices can be heard. My PCT and Strategic Health Authority have no plans to hold listening events so the whole “listening” event scheme seems to be a sham with the already converted talking to each other and ignoring the warnings and disquiet which is gaining momentum each day. The more we know and understand what is going on the less we like this backdoor privatisation of our NHS. If you have not already done so please sign the petition now to stop the rot.

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Article Information

Title: Safeguarding the NHS for the future
Author: Martine Hamilton
Article Id: 18446
Date Added: 12th May 2011


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