Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Safe in his hands?

Before the election, David Cameron promised there would be no more top-down re-organisations of the NHS.

But, once inside Downing Street, David Cameron brought forward the biggest top-down re-organisation in NHS history. This is at a time of huge financial pressure - exposing the NHS to greater levels of risk.

David Cameron said he wanted to put NHS staff in control, but refused to listen to their concerns: less than one-in-ten NHS staff wanted to see his Bill passed, with the vast majority wanting to see it withdrawn, yet he ploughed on regardless. Both NHS staff and patients are concerned about the dangers the NHS faces as a result.

Despite assurances given by Ministers during the passage of the Bill, the re-organisation:
  • fails to put doctors in control. Instead, it adds bureaucracy and empowers lawyers and accountants, rather than doctors;
  • has taken over £3 billion away from patient care;
  • brings in hundreds of new private companies through Any Qualified Provider tendering and new competition rules;
  • fails to give the NHS the real service reform needed to meet the challenges of the 21st century, and
  • risks discouraging integration and collaboration.

The Government’s reorganisation was clearly not ready to have gone live on 1st April. Too many of the organisations due to take control hadn’t been fully authorized. Confusion remains over who will be in charge, how the competition rules trapped in Parliament will operate and how potential conflict of interests will be handled.

Bizarrely,last month, the Department of Health handed £2.2 billion of NHS funds to the Treasury, rather than investing it in frontline care. This is hard to understand as the NHS struggles to cope with the re-organisation, plummeting nurse numbers and rising waiting-times for in-patient treatment.

And, contrary to all the government’s assertions that it is cutting quangos, this month it launched a brand new £60bn health quango, completely dwarfing the budgets of all the other quangos put together!