Tag Archives: health

1250 days to save the NHS: A new approach

First a little about myself. I am 53 years old and have worked in health care for over 22 years. I have voted Liberal, latterly Liberal Democrat, for nearly 40 years now. I, like others, have been frustrated by the ongoing swing politics that has affected the United Kingdom since the last war. Whilst like many others I am saddened by the outcome of the referendum I know as a party we are committed to be outward looking and pro-European. This will mean maintaining and fostering close links our European neighbours. However we need to plan now as to how we can win the next General Election in 2020, and in doing so protect to NHS as a public service.

The voting public must be made aware what is at stake and we must put forward a radical but costed vision for the health service. In 1997 New Labour came to power and pumped money into the NHS whilst establishing targets for waiting times. This was a sensible approach, but in recent years this has evolved into ever-increasing ‘fines’ for failing to meet those targets. Therefore, despite the Conservative government’s much lauded promise ‘to increase funding’ for the NHS, the reality is that year on year hospital trusts fall ever further into debt, leading to cuts in staff & frontline services in real terms. This is neither a responsible or sustainable approach to meeting the needs of the public or the NHS.

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We need to reform prescription charges

 

Over the last few years, we’ve seen rise after rise in English prescription charges.

Yet the list of illnesses giving you free prescriptions was set in the 1960s, with cancer being the only recent addition.  Shockingly, it excludes mental health outright.

At this autumn’s South Central Regional Conference, a motion by the author was passed calling for reforms to remove the inequities of the current charging regime.

Take two hypothetical examples.

Jon is 40 and has a weak thyroid. Although he has a well paid job, Jon does not have to pay for his thyroid medication, or for any other medication, no matter what it’s for.

25-year-old Samantha works part time, with an income of £17,000. This takes her over the financial thresholds for free prescriptions. She has asthma, but often cannot afford to fill her prescriptions. Samantha ends up in hospital with asthma several times a year, with frequent GP visits too.

As a doctor, I know that there are many real patients like this.

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Lord Malcolm Bruce writes… Liberalism revitalised

I want to respond to the challenges issued by Paddy and Vince during our conference.

Paddy said the party was “intellectually dead.” Vince said our position on another referendum was disrespectful to the electorate.

Let me take on Vince first. We and our predecessors supported UK membership of the European Community from its inception. The SDP was created largely because of Labour’s equivocation over British membership. We campaigned unstintingly for Remain and we remain convinced that the UK ‘s interests are best served by being a key member of the European Union.

Yes, by a narrow margin the country voted Leave but we have not changed our view and, given that there is no clear idea of what kind of relationship people want – in or out of the single market – let alone the hundreds of cooperative agreements built up over the last 43 years.

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Baroness Joan Walmsley writes…Will new PM’s actions speak louder than her words?

On Tuesday, just two days before parliament starts its recess and less than a week after Theresa May first addressed the commons as Prime Minister, Sir Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, wrote about his priorities for the NHS. 

For most of us his comments and overall strategy will seem eminently sensible. The question I ask myself is this: Will Theresa May’s government pay lip service to Simon Stevens’ strategy or will they actually commit to the funds and action needed to carry it through?

You might say I am being unduly cynical and that I am not giving this new PM a chance. You may be right, although keeping Mr Hunt as her Secretary of State for Health does not strike me as very smart, given that he is so toxic to the doctors.

Stevens expresses concerns about two policy areas in particular – obesity & mental health, both of which are not getting the focus they deserve.

He points out the vital importance of effective action on obesity. This is not a matter of the nanny state lecturing people on how much they should eat. This is a critical health issue that affects the whole health service, not just in terms of funding but through the need to treat a whole range of different diseases. Financially the cost to the Treasury is now more than the police and fire services combined. One result of the separation of our health care services into NHS, on the one hand, and local authority social care and public health responsibilities on the other, is that it is your under-funded local council’s job to prevent obesity but it is the NHS that has to treat the myriad of diseases that arise from it. However, there are strong rumours that the long-awaited obesity strategy has been weakened because of business lobbying since it was first mooted by the government last year, while the LGA reports that funding cuts are threatening councils’ ability to be effective in this and other areas of public health.

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Disastrous A & E figures emphasise need for independent commission on NHS future

Every day seems to bring new crushing evidence of the immense strain facing the NHS and social care. Missed key targets have become the norm rather than the exception; A&E is bearing the brunt of cuts to preventive and community services; and few were surprised when NHS trusts recently revealed a record deficit of £2.45 billion.

After hearing anecdotal accounts of ambulances queueing up outside A&E departments due to a lack of available beds in my own county of Norfolk, I decided to investigate the true scale of the problem across the whole country by submitting Freedom of Information requests to each Ambulance Trust in England.

What I discovered was far more shocking than I had feared. More than 10,000 patients were stuck in an ambulance for more than two hours waiting to be handed over to hospital staff last year – a staggering four-fold increase over just three years. The number of people having to endure waits of more than an hour before being admitted has almost trebled in the same period.

In total, almost 400,000 hours were wasted in the last year alone due to handover delays of more than 15 minutes, the national target for getting patients out of the ambulance and into the care of A&E staff. That’s equivalent to 16,554 days of patients waiting in limbo while ambulance crews and vehicles are unnecessarily tied up, unable to respond to new emergency calls.

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LibLink: Kirsty Williams: Cancer care in Wales

Kirsty Williams 2All the parties in Wales have been asked to write a blog for the Tenovus Cancer Care charity’s website. This is what Kirsty Williams had to say:

Cancer is something that will touch the life of everyone in Wales at some point. So when it does, the system needs to be ready to step up and give the treatment and care patients, and their families, need.

Yesterday the Welsh Liberal Democrats launched our manifesto for the next Welsh Government which contained a number of commitments that would transform cancer care. Cancer causes more than one in four deaths, yet Wales is the only UK nation without a cancer awareness campaign and there are huge variations in cancer outcomes within Wales, we must address this.

In government we would develop an all-Wales Individual Patient Funding Requests panel and remove the ‘exceptionality’ hurdle which prevents many patients’ access to drugs that their clinician thinks could help them. Your clinician should choose your medication, not your postcode.

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MPs must work together to safeguard our healthcare

As a doctor, every day I see the enduring effects of short-term political spin on my patients.

Hospitals bursting at the seams, short-staffed and lacking beds, are told desperately needed nurses will only be available if there is ‘surplus winter funding’. Patients ready to leave hospital wait weeks for ‘exceptional funds’ to secure specialist accommodation, while we face a 12% rise in delayed hospital stays. 

The Commonwealth Fund rightfully praised the NHS’s quality. Yet BMA Chair Dr Mark Porter warned we mustn’t be complacent over the perils of short-term partisan meddling. ‘A combination of rising patient demand, staff shortages and falling funding is undermining the very foundations of the NHS, as is the constant short-term interference from politicians of all colours.’

Reinforcing his counsel, unprecedented strikes showed the peril of capriciously uncosted manifesto pledges. This week NHS Chief Executive Simon Stevens called for a national consensus on social care by 2018, as we learned we lag behind similar countries in spending.

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Recent Comments

  • User Avatarmatt 9th Dec - 9:03pm
    @Roland "I would have thought that was obvious: the same as that which resulted in the referendum." That does not make any sense. The referendum...
  • User AvatarTpfkar 9th Dec - 8:38pm
    Eddie - I'd just say that I'm finding it easier to say in a sentence on the doorstep what the Lib Dems are about at...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 9th Dec - 8:32pm
    Sorry, I'm not sure whether Labour are pro brexit or remain, I suppose they are kind of pro brexit but not the kind of brexit...
  • User AvatarRichard Underhill 9th Dec - 8:30pm
    Suppose the Governor of the Bank of England were to forecast two consecutive quarters of negative growth? We are currently at risk of entering an...
  • User AvatarEddie Sammon 9th Dec - 8:26pm
    It's relevant to the circumstances because the pro-brexit vote in this seat was 67% last night compared with 21.2% for remain. Not sure what the...
  • User AvatarRoland 9th Dec - 8:26pm
    @matt Re: Whats the criterion of judging that sea of change? I would have thought that was obvious: the same as that which resulted in...