Tag Archives: NHS

LibLink: Sal Brinton; The NHS can’t work without a sustainable social care system

As the NHS turned 70 this week, Sal Brinton looked back at the development of social care policy and outlined the Government’s failings:

… since 2015, the new Conservative Government has dithered and delayed, repeatedly promising that they would sort out the social care funding problem.

We still await the Green Paper promised in the Conservative 2017 Manifesto – with a side skirmish of the Dementia Tax, a form of inverse Dilnot, which so outraged voters it was dropped mid election.

Councils have faced massive cuts to all services, including making £6bn savings in adult social care since 2010. They are still being

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Help our MPs choose their Commons debate – last chance to have your say

Lib Dem MPs have a relatively rare opposition day debate this week. They are approaching it a bit differently by giving you a chance to decide the subject.

What’s particularly brilliant is that you get to vote preferentially too. That’ll be useful for next year’s Ashdown Prize organisers to note.

An email from Alistair Carmichael landed the other day:

On Tuesday 10th July, our MPs have an opposition day debate in Parliament.

This means that we can pick one topic and have MPs debate and vote on it in Westminster.

And we want to hear what you think MPs should be

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Happy Anniversary!

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It’s hot, and our regular supply of posts from you, dear readers, seems to have melted away. But we can’t let today go by without acknowledging the 70th Anniversary of the NHS.

Of course, we can’t do it justice in a short piece, but we can be proud that, for all its faults, we do still have a system that is not only valued at home but also admired by other countries. Indeed, many nations now have systems of health care which are universal and free at the point of delivery, even if they differ in the methods used to achieve that.

Yes, of course there are anomalies in the NHS – dental care and prescriptions are often not free, social care is still not integrated properly with medical care, treatment is rationed by Clinical Commissioning Groups, too many services are outsourced.

But what has always astonished me is the fact that this blatantly socialist project, vilified by many at the time (including the majority of doctors), is now seen as an essential component of British life by people from across the political spectrum. And what saddens me is that the American right still don’t understand why we love it, and have dismantled the progressive systems that Obama carefully constructed.

The challenge over the last 70 years has been for the NHS to keep in step both with research and with societal changes, and that challenge will go with it into the future.

So it is appropriate that Vince Cable has chosen today to highlight quite a niche subject – access to fertility treatment for female couples.  He has written to Sir Andrew Dillon, the chief executive of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, about ‘shared motherhood’. This is a treatment that involves one partner donating an egg which is then carried by the other partner, so that both women are physically involved. At the moment it is only available privately at a cost of £6000 per cycle.

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With more money coming to the NHS do we need to rethink how it’s spent?

While some of the major health think tanks such as The King’s Fund say the announced 3.4% increase in annual NHS spending is not enough – and I would agree with that – can we at least use the additional NHS funding more efficiently? I would say it might be worth looking at changing some long-established patterns of patient care.

Let’s start by looking at primary care. Currently it is estimated that around half of all GP appointments are for just two kinds of conditions – musculoskeletal (MSK) problems (accounting for a fifth of all GP appointments) and mental health problems …

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Gosport findings ‘shocking and devastating’

We have all be shocked by the revelations about the inappropriate treatment of elderly patients at Gosport War Memorial Hospital. Here is Norman Lamb talking about the way the NHS closed ranks when he was Health Minister, and how he called for the enquiry that has just been completed.

We also have some quotes from him:

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Theresa May shamelessly takes up discredited Leave campaign slogan

Most of my memories of the Leave campaign involve the blatant lies it told. 77 million Turks, we were told, would pretty much be here the day after we voted Remain, according to their literature. And the biggest lie of all was emblazoned on the side of a bus. £350 million a week for the NHS.

It was the thought of more money for our beleaguered NHS that prompted many people to vote Leave, something confirmed by Vote Leave’s director, Dominic Cummings.

Within hours of the referendum result, that pledge was in tatters. Nigel Farage distanced himself from

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We’re turning away skilled workers

6,000 skilled people were denied entry to the UK last year due to visa caps. The Campaign for Science and Engineering reported on a Freedom of Information request to the Home Office which showed that thousands of workers had been denied entry between December 2017 and March 2018.

The Government have refused over 6,000 applications for skilled overseas workers holding a job offer due to an arbitrary cap on visas, including engineers, tech professionals, doctors and teachers.

Many posts up and down the country are being left unfilled because overseas workers can’t get entry. …

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The Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Annual Report

The Learning Disabilities Mortality Review Annual Report was published recently by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership. In it are harrowing statistics of people with learning disabilities dying far too young.

The report highlights the extraordinarily high incidences of preventable death. The Connor Sparrowhawk case has brought this to public attention recently: a young man with learning difficulties left in a bath unattended, he drowned whilst having an epileptic fit.

Between July 2016 and November 2017, 1311 deaths were put forward for review, often by a Learning Disability Nurse. Of those, 27% …

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New report out shows more paediatric consultants needed

As a mother of three, we have been to A & E more times than I would have liked and have had help from paediatricians and other consultants. The NHS is wonderful!

But sorely understaffed.

A report out today by the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, “Facing the Future Audit 2017”, has recommended drastic increases in staff to meet need. Up to 752 more paediatric consultants are required across the UK: 520-554 in England; 84-110 in Scotland; 84–91 in Wales; and 30-31 in Northern Ireland.

There are clearly not enough paediatric consultants …

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LibLink: Sal Brinton: Ministers must protect our NHS against privatisation

This week, Sal Brinton and others argued in the House of Lords that action was needed to ensure that Brexit didn’t open the door to privatisation of the NHS.

She wrote about the issue for The House magazine:

If you asked most people what effect Brexit would have on our health service, regardless of how they voted in the Referendum, I suspect they will cite that large red bus from the Leave referendum campaign stating the EU costs the UK £350m per week, which on leaving could be invested in the NHS. Not only was this untrue, but there are now figures to show that the cost of leaving to our economy could be equal to £350m per week. And, at a time of unprecedented pressure on the NHS, it needs urgent and real investment to prevent it crumbling.

However, one of the lesser known pillars of protecting our NHS is also at risk with Brexit. With more and more parts of its services being put out to tender, the NHS has been protected by the EU Directive on Public Health Procurement. This directive governs the way in which public bodies purchase goods, service and works and seeks to guarantee equal access and fair competition for public contracts in the EU markets. It was approved in 2014 and includes protection for clinical services and more legal clarity on the application of procurement rules.

She also looked at some of the wider impacts on the Health Service that Brexit will have:

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The dire state of mental health services

The Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman’s recent report on mental health provision is damning.

Titled Maintaining momentum: driving improvements in mental health care, Rob Behrens’ analysis confirms what we already know: mental health services are in crisis and people are suffering and dying because of it.

The case studies are harrowing. Mr Behrens’ says:

The cases highlighted in this report starkly illustrate the human cost of service failures. These cases are not isolated examples. They are symptomatic of persistent problems we see time and again in our complaints casework and, moreover, they represent failings throughout the care pathway.

In the most severe cases,

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Growth in infant mortality highlights desperate pressures on the NHS

The annual statistics on stillbirths, infant deaths and childhood deaths in England and Wales were published yesterday by the government. The report also includes data on the causes of death and information on key risk factors.

This report evidences the first two-year increase in infant mortality rates in England and Wales for the last 30 years. Former Health Minister and Lib Dem MP Norman Lamb said:

Infant mortality has been in steep decline for over 30 years. However, this success cannot lead to complacency.

Figures released today show there is a trend towards increased infant mortality rates over the last two years. Losing a child is one of the most heart-breaking experiences imaginable. The government must urgently examine the cause and what might be driving this disturbing reversal of historic falls in infant mortality. The fact that the NHS is under such strain may well be contributing to this.

That is why the Liberal Democrats want to put a penny in the pound on income tax, to maintain and improve standards in the NHS.

At Spring Conference, a motion was passed celebrating the NHS at 70 and recognising the wonderful contribution of NHS staff.

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#TreatMeWell campaign launched today

Mencap has launched its Treat Me Well Campaign today, calling for those with Learning Disabilities to be given reasonable adjustments in hospitals.

The facts are shocking. Every year, 1200 people with a learning disability die avoidably in hospital care.

I blogged this morning on the disgraceful state of PIP and ESA assessments, many suffered by those with learning disability. This is another aspect of how people with learning disability are not listened to, are not enabled, and are sidelined in assessments. This video gives you a good idea of the issues:

I am on the Board of the Fragile X Society. Fragile X, a genetic condition, is the leading inherited cause of learning disability. Thousands of people with Fragile X will have had the experiences show in this video.

It is very easy to make modifications. Allow extra time for appointments. Use simple language. Break explanations down into smaller, understandable sentences. Allow time for mental processing. It’s what people with learning disabilities are asking for.

The Treat Me Well report is well worth a read. Mencap’s research showed (p.25)

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Clever question from Vince shows Brexit threat to NHS

Theresa May’s non-answer to Vince Cable’s question at PMQs today about whether a future trade deal with the US will safeguard the NHS could end up as being one of the turning points of the Brexit debate.

One of the huge advantages of the EU is that you have a lot more clout if you approach a protectionist like Trump with 27 of your mates rather than if you show up on your own.

Watch the exchange here:

The text is below:

Sir Vince Cable

The Prime Minister knows that one of the key objectives of American trade negotiators in any future deal after Brexit is to secure access for American companies to do business in the NHS. Will she give an absolute guarantee that the NHS will be excluded from the scope of those negotiations? Will she also confirm that she has made it absolutely clear to President Trump in her conversations with him that the NHS is not for sale?

The Prime Minister

We are starting the discussions with the American Administration, first of all looking at what we can already do to increase trade between the US and the United Kingdom—even before the possibility of any free trade agreement. The right hon. Gentleman does not know what the American Administration are going to say about their requirements for that free trade agreement. We will go into those negotiations to get the best possible deal for the United Kingdom.

The BBC’s Norman Smith felt that this would not be the end of the matter.

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Our NHS needs money!

Vince has been talking about how we can properly fund the NHS in England and Wales.

 

The full LIb Dem plan is here. It includes five steps for rescuing health and social care services, with the long-term goal being to integrate health and social care into one seamless service with pooled budgets.

  1. An immediate 1p rise on the basic, higher and additional rates of Income Tax to raise £6 billion additional revenue which would be ringfenced to be spent only on NHS and social care services.
  2. Direct this additional investment to the

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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.

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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.

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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

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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:

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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.

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At some point the Tories will run out of people to blame for the state of the NHS…

I went through just about every emotion there is watching BBC2’s new series Hospital which follows events and pressures at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington. Partly because some of what was shown is just a bit too close to my recent experience, partly because of the life and death decisions made every day with too few resources, I was in tears several times.  One man awaiting cancer surgery is told at the last minute that they don’t know if they will be able to operate because there isn’t an Intensive Care bed available for him.

This comes as every news bulletin carries ever more harrowing accounts of the pressures in hospitals at the moment. What is the response of the Minister responsible? To blame the public. He talked  saying that 30% of A & E patients don’t need to be there as if it is their fault that they have no other option. If people could get GP appointments or had community pharmacies to go to, they would never need to go to A & E. Whose fault is it that they have no alternative? Step forward Mr Hunt.

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Norman Lamb leads calls for National Convention to resolve NHS funding crisis

Norman Lamb has co-ordinateda cross-party group of MPs to call for a national convention on health and care to resolve the crisis in NHS funding.

Norman said:

The health and social care system in England is facing unprecedented challenges. Failing to find a solution to this crisis puts some of the most vulnerable people at risk – frail and elderly people in need of care services, disabled people who need support and people with long-term illnesses, particularly those suffering from mental ill health.

Building a sustainable health and care system that can provide high-quality care can’t be realised without putting aside party political point-scoring.

The public is sick and tired of the NHS and care system being treated like a political football.  People have had enough, and are crying out for an honest discussion and bold solutions to these challenges.

It speaks volumes that so many Members of Parliament from across the political spectrum are backing this initiative.  At Prime Minister’s Questions, I will urge Theresa May to recognise the gravity of the situation we are facing, and to agree to meet with us to listen to our proposal.

Norman has persuaded an illustrious group of MPs and former health secretaries to back his call. They include the  Conservative former health minister Dan Poulter MP and Labour former shadow care minister Liz Kendall MP. It is also supported by four Select Committee Chairs – Sarah Wollaston MP (Health Committee), Meg Hillier MP (Public Accounts Committee), Clive Betts MP (Communities and Local Government Committee) and Frank Field (Work and Pensions Committee) – along with former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn.

The full statement says:

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How Brexit will harm our NHS and social care

So, I’m drifting back to LDV slowly and gradually. My husband is now recovering from his heart surgery at home. It’s still quite incredible to think that only 10 weeks ago, he was enjoying his best health in years. All that changed with what we thought was Flu but turned out to be an infection in his heart which damaged one of his heart valves – a pretty complex one, too. My gratitude to the surgical team who sorted this out is unrivalled.

I have been more scared during this time than I have ever been in my life. That late-night phone call from Intensive Care when they said they needed to take him back into theatre was the point that I thought I really was going to crumble. The election of Donald Trump, terrifying as it is, 24 hours later was far from the most stressful thing I had to face that week.

The frenetic running about to and from the hospital and the intrinsic terror of the situation have now been replaced with a much less stressful but still very busy routine of drugging people, feeding people, cleaning, washing and other elements of domesticity which are a bit of a learning curve for me. My slovenly ways have been replaced by scrubbing everything in sight with anti-bacterial potions.

I tell Bob that I am basing my nursing style on Kathy Bates in Misery. He wasn’t really meant to agree that I was doing that well, but never mind.  Yesterday was a bit of a milestone when he had his first wee walk outside in 9 weeks.

I’m clearly going to be pre-occupied with looking after him for a while yet. The likelihood is that I’m still going to be a bit slow to get back to people  and not really engaged full time in the site until the New Year, so please continue to be patient with me.

My thanks go to the team who have had to do well more than they ever signed up for over the last nine weeks. Without them, there would have been no LDV at all. They have been absolutely brilliant.

I’ve observed much about our NHS and the stresses at its frontline. Bob had the most excellent care in hospital, but it was very clear to us how hard everyone was working and how there was so little give in the system. It’s a theme I will return to. For today, though, I want to think about the effects of Brexit on the NHS. The Leave Campaign’s jolly assertion that leaving the EU would mean £350 million a week extra for the NHS was consigned to history almost before the votes had been counted.

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Profound Brexit implications for the UK’s Life Science industry

Last week I was hoping to hear Liam Fox speak on ‘Maintaining the UK life sciences’ leading position’ at a Royal Society of Medicine symposium ‘Brexit; the Implications for the UK’s Life Science Industry’.

He cancelled (what an (un)surprise). The implications for academia, industry and the NHS are profound.

Already universities, research institutes and individual researchers are feeling the chill, particularly for long term EU grants.

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Lib Dems to consider NHS tax #ldconf

The Liberal Democrats are to set up an independent expert panel to consider the case for a dedicated NHS and care tax,  Norman Lamb will announce in his Conference speech at Brighton later today.

Members of the ‘New Beveridge Group’ will include Dr. Clare Gerada, former President of the Royal College of GPs, Prof. Dinesh Bhugra, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and current President of the World Psychiatric Association, Peter Carter, the former General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, and the chief executive of the Patients’ Association, Katherine Murphy.

It will report its recommendations to the party in six months’ time, presumably in time for Spring Conference.

Speaking to party members in Brighton, Lib Dem Health spokesperson Norman Lamb will say:

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What happened to sending £350million a week to the NHS?

 

It’s been seven weeks since the British public were visiting polling stations to make the biggest vote of their lifetime. Seven weeks since naïve Brexit supporters believed that £350 million a week would be spent on the NHS if their vote won.

I’m from a small market town in Lincolnshire, where 59.9% of the population voted to leave the EU in order to ‘take back control of our country’ and yesterday (Wednesday) it was announced that, as of next week, our A&E department will no longer be open 24 hours a day. Instead, the residents of Grantham, as well as surrounding towns and villages, will now have to travel approximately 30 miles to Boston, Nottingham or Lincoln if they are in need of medical care at night.

The reasoning behind this is due to the hospital being understaffed, yet the United Kingdom has just voted to potentially stop EU workers – who make up 5% of our NHS and 10% of our doctors – to enter our country without needing a visa. It really seems worth it now.

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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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  • User AvatarDav 23rd Jul - 2:32pm
    Paradoxical older people in warehouse work are getting paid more than under 25’s while the younger workers are probably more efficient given the physical nature...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 23rd Jul - 2:16pm
    @Tom, " A Fairer Share for All" Yes I agree. But isn't this more socialism than liberalism? In the USA, socialism and liberalism are closely...
  • User AvatarJen 23rd Jul - 2:03pm
    An excellent article. I am endlessly puzzled that the "R" in TERF stands for 'Radical' when their values are those of the Reactionary hard right.