Tag Archives: health

Joan Walmsley writes…Taxing patience and taxing patients

In order to “incentivise employers to think differently about their recruitment and skills decisions and the balance between investing in UK skills and overseas recruitment” (Lord Nash in the Lords on Tuesday) the government has decided to introduce an Immigration Skills Charge, a tax of £1000 per employee, per year, paid in advance by an employer wishing to recruit a skilled worker from outside the European Economic Area.

It does not apply to everyone, of course. Exceptions have been made for a variety of post-graduate scientists (including social and humanities scientists), research and development managers, and higher education teaching professionals.

Two groups that have not been exempted are professionals in health and social care. We know that both of these sectors are heavily dependent upon recruiting professionals from all over the world. We know only too well, from report after report, of the dire financial straits of the NHS: three quarters of NHS trusts are in deficit; nearly every A&E has limped from crisis to crisis this winter; we are short of nurses and retention is awful; hospital doctors’ rosters are unfilled; and GP practices can’t replace retiring doctors. The staff have become the shock-absorber for the NHS.

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Norman Lamb’s speech in health debate at Liberal Democrat Conference

Here s Norman Lamb’s speech from this afternoon’s health debate:

First, we condemn Theresa May for her refusal to guarantee the rights of EU citizens working in our NHS and care services to stay in this country.

We value the vital contribution you make.

We demand that their right is guaranteed.

The Budget completely failed to address the dire financial situation facing the NHS and care.

Whatever your politics, it makes no sense to spend a reducing share of our national income on the NHS as demand rises at 4% every year

Whatever your politics, it makes no sense that in 2018/19 spending per head in real terms will actually fall as pressures grow

Whatever your politics, surely we can’t tolerate over a million older people with care needs left unmet.

Yet this is the reality today.

And it’s not just numbers or statistics – it’s the impact on people which is so disturbing. There are real consequences for families up and down our country.

This is what the brilliant charity, Young Minds, reports from its Parents’ Helpline:

‘The helpline receives calls every day from parents who are desperately trying to get support from Children’s Mental Health Services. We regularly hear from parents who can’t even get a referral or who have been waiting months for an initial assessment and whose children’s conditions have got worse during that time. Children who have started to self harm or become suicidal during the wait – or who’ve dropped out of school, which not only has a big impact on their own education but also means that one of the parents has to give up their job to look after them.

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Can anyone tell me what is wrong with this story in the Independent?

This is the picture of a story from the Independent.

It concerns shocking figures unearthed by Scottish Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton which show the terrible lengths of time people can wait for discharge from hospital in Scotland for “health and social care reasons”, There was one example where one person had to wait for almost a year and a half.

 

Alex said:

In November I asked the First Minister about a constituent of mine who had spent 150 nights in hospital due to delayed discharge.

Nicola Sturgeon described the situation as unacceptable.“What then are we to make of patients in hospital for up to 500 nights, perhaps because carers can’t be found to visit them at home or there isn’t a care home place available?

Under the SNP, 1,000 beds were lost from Scotland’s hospitals during the same three years. Our under-pressure NHS can ill afford delayed discharges on this extreme scale.

Our social care spokesperson, Karen Clark added:

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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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