Tag Archives: NHS

An independent commission is the only cure for the NHS funding crisis

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When I stood as a Conservative parliamentary candidate in 2015, I remember preparing notes on every conceivable subject for my first hustings. But when it came to the NHS, I couldn’t bring myself to follow the party political line and just bash my opponents; no one has fixed it and no single party is to blame.

What I said, instead, was that we should have an independent commission to decide the future of the NHS and put it above party politics. It was a line that went down very well with the audience; when politicians throw numbers at each other we all get lost and a mature debate proves impossible.

So I strongly support the position Norman Lamb has developed as the party’s health spokesman, calling for an NHS and Health Convention to instigate a national conversation involving charities, professional groups and patients’ groups as well as politicians. In January, he was backed by 75 organizations and it’s a shame this policy attracted so little interest from journalists despite getting such widespread support from those closest to the health service.

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 29 Comments

Tory warnings about “bad Brexit” have one word too many

The latest Tory tactic seems to be to warn against a “bad Brexit” and to say that only they, if they get a whopping enough majority, can make sure we get a “good” deal. On that majority point, think of the last time you said to yourself “Oh, Merkel has a huge majority, we need to do what she says.” The point is that we go into these negotiations in a weakened position anyway. There are 27 EU member states and 1 of us. Who has the power here? The Tory brexiteers needn’t bother trying to blame the EU for a situation that they created.

Jeremy Hunt is the latest to talk of the dangers of Brexit going wrong and what that will mean for our NHS. In fact, if Brexit happens, it will damage our NHS on various fronts. The crash in our economy that would result if Theresa May’s extreme Brexit goes ahead would cost the NHS dearly. And today a report says that the NHS could stand to lose an extra half a billion if returning ex-pats came back to be treated on the NHS in Britain. This was entirely predictable.

That is just one problem of several highlighted by the Nuffield Trust:

According to the Nuffield Trust, it may not be easy to continue with this agreement after Brexit.
If all of these pensioners decided to return to the UK – a big if – they could be expected to fill 900 NHS hospital beds a year, it says.

The NHS would need about 1,600 more doctors, nurses and other workers to provide the care, it estimates.

Also, hospitals could end up short-staffed if migration of workers from the EU slows or stops post-Brexit.
And access to medicines could also become more difficult if the UK leaves the EU’s medicine licensing system.

So, we have a crashing economy, extra people to treat with fewer staff and restricted access to medicines. All of these are en entirely predictable consequence of any Brexit. It’s not exactly what was written on that bus, is it?

In response to today’s report, Norman Lamb said:

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Will the last doctor to leave the NHS switch off the light

 

Whilst the media concentrate on  shortages of beds, longer waiting times and the increasing indebtedness of Trusts,  all of which can easily be solved by investing more money, ie. a choice (or not) of the government of the day, something far more fundamental is happening – doctors are leaving the NHS.

This cannot be solved by money, or government dictat,  because the goodwill of medical staff which successive governments have taken for granted has run out, and frankly, doctors have sufficient skills to go anywhere in the world.

From its inception, the NHS has relied on imported staff from abroad; in the ‘50s and ‘60s it was mainly porters, cleaners and cooks from the Caribbean. In the ‘70s and ‘80s it was doctors from the Indian subcontinent and nurses from south East Asia and since the ‘90s from Europe.

The UK has never produced sufficient home grown doctors, partly because of the idiotic insistence of the system in pretending that almost no-one is academically gifted enough to get into medical school. Getting 4A* has little to do with becoming a good doctor; it’s just an effective way of stopping perfectly good candidates getting into medical school. The medical school expansion programme in the ‘70s didn’t fix the problem and neither will Jeremy Hunt’s offering of 6,000 more places over the next five years; the problem is much, much worse than that.

Posted in Op-eds | 13 Comments

Baroness Joan Walmsley writes…150% rise in patients forced to move GP surgery as practice closures hit record levels

One of the jewels in the NHS, for as long as I can remember, has been the family GP. My GP looked after my mother before I was born and looked after me until I moved away from home. In those days the GP’s long acquaintance with my whole family was important to us. Everyone had a “family doctor”. They even did home visits!

Things are very different now. We still have primary care and acute care, but many more community nurses, health visitors, therapists and care workers, not forgetting the wide range of services offered by community pharmacists and local authorities, where they can still afford it.

Demographic change and rising demand have put enormous pressure on GPs and, in some areas, people turn up at A&E rather than wait for an appointment. However, the role of the GP is still critical to the NHS and it is important that the system enables them to play their part in preventative medicine as well as diagnosis and signposting to other services.

Unfortunately, the demand for a seven-day service, without enough extra money to pay for it, and the enormous pressures on GPs time has made it a less attractive option for newly-qualified doctors. This has led to problems recruiting enough doctors to keep practices going and an increasing retention problem. Many GPs, especially partners who have extra duties and responsibilities compared to salaried GPs, are retiring early. In the last quarter of 2016, there was a net loss of 390 GPs in the NHS. This gives us no confidence in the government commitment to recruit 5000 more GP’s by 2020. According to the BMA, even the 5000 extra training places will only allow us to break even in GP numbers.

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Will current NHS cuts raise prices and lower quality?

 

Most, if not all economic and political decisions have two prime factors – price and quality. And this includes national healthcare. Decision making involves information. Most, if not all information can be placed on a continuum between the verifiable and the fake. (Ditto “News”!) Here are some verifiable items of information relevant to our NHS.

PRICE: Some national average healthcare costs/prices per person per year:

  • The British pay $3,364
  • The Japanese pay $3,713
  • The French pay $4,361
  • The Germans pay$4,920
  • The Americans pay $9,086

Source: OECD Health data 2013

QUALITY: Some healthcare rankings:

  • United Kingdom 18
  • Canada                 30
  • Japan                    10
  • Germany              25
  • France                    1
  • USA                      37
  • Cambodia          174

Source: The Patient Factor

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged | 19 Comments

LibLink: Norman Lamb: Time for honesty about future funding of our NHS

Liberal Democrats have been talking a lot about health and social care this week. In the Yorkshire Post, Norman Lamb argues for an urgent change of direction to give the NHS a sustainable future which meets our needs.

First he seems out the crisis facing the NHS.

But it seems this Conservative Government has become increasingly ambivalent to the state of our health service. In Yorkshire, vital A&E wards in Dewsbury, Huddersfield and Scarborough are all at risk of being closed or downgraded – it’s the same over the border at Darlington. Communities are set to face even longer waits for emergency care, including those in rural areas who may soon have to travel hours to receive treatment. These changes are happening for a simple reason – this Conservative government is failing to give the NHS and care services the cash they need to cope with rising demand. To make matters worse, local people on the ground are not being given a say into these decisions which will have a huge impact on their lives. The stark reality is that we are seeing the gradual downgrading of our health service taking place behind closed doors.

He attacked the use of well-paid consultancy firms drawing up cuts in services with no consultation of the public.

So what is the solution? It’s two-fold. First of all a cross party commission:

Posted in LibLink | Also tagged | 17 Comments

Farron attacks Government plans to make patients pay upfront for NHS treatment

Don’t make scapegoats out of foreigners for the crisis facing the NHS. That’s Tim Farron’s message to Jeremy Hunt as the Government says it is going to get hospitals to check upfront whether people are eligible for free NHS treatment and charge them before treatment Because NHS staff don’t have enough to do already. Tim said:

We all want to see the NHS recover money owed it to it, but this is a completely disproportionate response to what is a fairly minor problem. The Health Secretary is turning NHS staff into the Border Force, its unacceptable.

Asking people to show their ID before receiving treatment will mean longer waits for treatments and heap more pressure on already overstretched NHS staff.

The government must explain how much it expects the new system will cost to administer and what the impact on patients will be.

Instead of trying to blame foreigners for the crisis facing the NHS, Jeremy Hunt should take responsibility and give our health service the extra investment it needs.

Posted in News and Op-eds | Also tagged | 43 Comments
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