Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Now cancer diagnostic times up

Earlier this week, I revealed the massive scale of the shift of NHS resources – from the poorest areas, with the biggest health challenges, to the wealthiest areas, with the best health - that the Government is now planning. 

£345 million is to be taken from the NHS in Derbyshire and South Yorkshire and given to Surrey and Hampshire.

I also reported on the dramatic increase in the number of people waiting more than 18 weeks for hospital admission, both locally and nationally. In Derbyshire and South Yorkshire there has been a more than 70% increase since May 2010.

Now, I can reveal that there has been a 131% increase in the number of people waiting more than 6 weeks for cancer endoscopy tests since May 2010, according to this week’s Department of Health statistics.

Under the last Labour government, there were significant year-on-year cuts in waiting-time for cancer diagnostic tests and treatment. There were also clear plans to improve and speed up cancer tests in primary care. But, this government simply scrapped them, and now we see the results.

Catching cancer early is the only way to get survival rates up. Investment in early testing can save money from the costs of treating advanced cancers.

You might think that the Government is seriously concerned about these increasing delays. It isn’t. It has simply floated the idea of introducing charges for a fast-tracked testing service through one of its advisors. This is both disgraceful and unacceptable. The treatment of cancer must not be based on the ability to pay.

Is our NHS safe in this Government’s hands? Based on its record to date, the answer is short: No.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

All in it together?

I make no apologies for returning to my concerns about what the Government is doing to our NHS.

After David Cameron promised ‘no top-down re-organisation of the NHS” and Nick Clegg promised a “bonfire of the quangos”, we now find ourselves in the biggest top-down re-organisation the NHS has ever seen and the creation of new quangos, whose spending powers swamp all the other quangos put together.

Meanwhile, waiting-times for treatment are continuing to rise, month-by-month. This government inherited a decade of falling waiting-times, year-on-year. Since Cameron, Clegg and Lansley took control they have shot up.

Between May 2010 and March 2012, the number of patients who have waited more than 18 weeks for admission to hospital have shot up by 68% in Sheffield, 78% in Rotherham, 21% in Barnsley, 61% in Doncaster and 141% in Derbyshire.

Now, the government has announced a new funding formula in the way it distributes money to address health inequalities. You will not be surprised that, rather like the new funding formulae for local government, the outcome is that funds are being massively transferred from the poorest areas in the country – those with the greatest health needs – to the wealthiest areas.

The scale of the cuts is dramatic. Sheffield will lose nearly £73m a year; Rotherham will lose more than £64m; Barnsley will lose nearly £90m; Doncaster will lose more than £78m, and Derbyshire will lose nearly £40m.

Meanwhile, Surrey will gain more than £400m; Hampshire will gain more than £322m and Oxfordshire – partly represented in parliament by David Cameron – will gain nearly £174m.

As with the budget announcement on taxes, this government has turned “to him that hath shall be given, and he that hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath” into a mantra to be implemented.

We’re all in it together? You must be joking.