Llansantffraed Community Councillor Harry Hayfield’s personal experience has led him to realise that whilst there are differences between what is happening to the NHS in England and the NHS in Wales they share a common problem – underfunding – which leads to cuts in service. Cllr Hayfield says:
I have been a Liberal Democrat for the past twenty four years, however last March a chain of events started that has persuaded me it is time to change.
But what I was not aware of was just how painful the condition was. She was forced into a position where her only option was to have private treatment.
Although the operation was a success she was discharged without being completely tested for after effects. That treatment was to lead to complications which meant she was admitted as a patient to the NHS, after all.
The NHS is obliged to provide emergency treatment but its underfunding is restricting its ability to provide a timely service to the public. It is clear to me that a market for the private sector is being opened up.
“I was elected as a Liberal Democrat community councillor in Ceredigion but worry that, because the money for the NHS comes from Westminster, the Welsh service is in desperate need of help that the Assembly has little control over.
“Having seen that it’s the NHS which picks up the pieces after private healthcare has made its profits, I am concerned that there is no clear political voice spelling out what the real issues are. I have therefore made a personal decision to join the National Health Action Party in order to campaign for people, like my grandmother, to get the care and treatment that they deserve.”
Dr Clive Peedell the NHA party leader (above) said, “We are delighted by Cllr Hayfield’s decision. We do not want to see the NHS in Wales – or in Scotland – following the same route as in England. We were very disappointed to hear Leanne Woods talking before the Welsh Assembly elections about creating lean organisations, bringing in the private sector and tightening up the public sector. This sounds worryingly like the language of someone who has accepted George Osborne’s austerity agenda.
Progressive politics recognises the importance of a clear distinction between public service and private business. Investing in the NHS as a public service brings rewards to the greater economy, it is not a drain. Cllr Hayfield wants to use his change of party to highlight that distinction, to make people realise that better services cannot be provided under a constant regime of cuts and change. The NHS in all the UK’s countries needs stability, public provision and decent funding.
Cllr Hayfield also has a personal reason for wanting to be part of NHA. He grew up in the area served by Dr. Richard Taylor, who co-founded the NHA with me and is now its life president. Dr Taylor was the MP for Wyre Forest, and was elected twice as an independent candidate fighting for an NHS that was fit for purpose. The National Health Action Party welcomes Cllr Hayfield as part of that campaign.”
Cllr Hayfield will be making a public statement, which we support, about his change of party. If there are 10 people from his electoral area who object to his change of party then he will stand down and campaign for his community council place under his new colours. We hope his local electorate will understand and respect his reasons for change and allow him to help the NHA to highlight the danger our NHS faces from underfunding and privatisation.
An audit report about NHS waiting times in Wales: http://www.audit.wales/system/files/publications/nhs_waiting_times_technical_report_english.pdf
Applause for the concept of a small parties’ coalition: SNP, Plaid Cymru, and Greens – could NHAP work with this?
Underlining the need for the NHS, Colchester Hospital has declared a “major incident” following an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) which found staff struggling to cope with “unprecedented demand” and raised “safeguarding concerns”
On BBC1’s Question Time this week, Plaid Cymru leader, Leanne Wood, put forward this scenario; looking at the latest National Health Action campaigns, the NHAP seems to be a worthy candidate to work with the other parties.
Co-leader Dr Clive Peedell has contacted the newly appointed NHS advisor, Sir Stuart Rose, and the current and future NHS Chief Executives, Sir David Nicholson and Simon Stevens. His open letter, published in the Health Service Journal, ends:
- “There will never be effective NHS clinical leadership and followership, and successful NHS reform until the failed market based policies of the last 25 years are abandoned and the medical and nursing professions are brought back into the policy making process”.
He finished with a quote from Arnold Relman, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at Harvard University and former editor of the New England Journal Medicine, which sums up the situation: “Medical professionalism cannot survive in the current commercialised healthcare market. The continued privatisation of healthcare and the continued prevalence and intrusion of market forces in the practice of medicine will not only bankrupt the healthcare system, but also will inevitably undermine the ethical foundations of medical practice and dissolve the moral precepts that have historically defined the medical profession.”
- Leading members of NHAP are calling for the ATOS assessments to be scrapped – and a new system be introduced that ensures doctors are properly consulted.
Cambridgeshire representative, John Hully condemns the possible merger of world-famous Papworth Hospital with a failing hospital 30 miles away.
- He says it’s disgraceful that the distinguished & profitable Papworth heart and lung transplant hospital may be forced by the Treasury into a partnership with Peterborough City Hospital, 30 miles away, in order to balance the books of failing Peterborough City Hospital which is saddled with PFI debts, adding:
“Such a move defies all advice and the needs of patients, and is based purely on short-term financial considerations. This situation underlines the need for decisive government action to lift the burden of the unaffordable PFI scheme from Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust to allow it to concentrate on delivering care to local patients . . .“
- London GP and Euro-candidate Dr Louise Irvine has launched a strong attack on the planned closures of A&E departments in North West London.
The soundness of the estimates in plans to close four A&Es in north west London, outlined in “Shaping a Healthier Future” are inconsistent with research figures from the Department of Health. They underestimate how many people will have to go to A&Es in other hospitals by tens of thousands a year and Dr Irvine fears that this can only lead to chaos in other hospitals in the capital. She also examines the DoH claim that they are not closing the A&E at Charing Cross Hospital but making it into a “local A&E”:
“That “local A&E” will be run by GPs and not by Emergency Department doctors, it will not accept patients who are arriving by blue-light ambulance and it will not be able to admit seriously ill patients”.
Would the SNP, Plaid Cymru, and Greens agree?
Government urged to stop wasting billions of pounds of tax-payers’ money, NHS is ranked as the most cost effective health service
On Thursday, many will have had vague misgivings when the media headlined news of a report by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges which argued that doctors have an ethical duty to prevent waste in the NHS.
These misgivings will be crystallised for many on reading a statement from NHA co-leader Dr Clive Peedell, responding to the report.
His theme: “If the Association of Medical Royal Colleges is looking to make substantial savings, it should shine a light on the waste created by and presided over by this government”.
Points made by Dr Peedell: government should stop wasting billions of pounds of tax-payers’ money on the NHS internal market, PFI loans, privatisation and creating false economies.
“The market system prevents innovation as hospitals lose income if they provide more efficient treatment: “A good example is the development of the new radiotherapy technique, stereotactic ablative radiotherapy, in the treatment of lung cancer. This allows curative doses of radiation to be delivered in 3 to 5 treatments rather than 20 treatments of conventional radiotherapy. This is much more convenient for the patient and achieves higher cure rates with less side effects. However since hospitals are paid per fraction of radiotherapy, they lose income by offering the treatment . . .
“GPs are also under tremendous pressure not to miss things. A backache could turn out to be spinal cancer. The stakes are high when you’re dealing with a person’s life. So it’s totally understandable why sometimes doctors may order what turns out to be, with hindsight, an unnecessary test. You don’t know it’s unnecessary until you’ve done it”.
A recent widely reported case: http://home.bt.com/lifestyle/wellbeing/students-cold-turned-out-to-be-cancer-11363941859800
Dr Peedell itemises waste created and presided over by this government:
- http://chpi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/At-what-cost-paying-the-price-for-the-market-in-the-English-NHS-by-Calum-Paton.pdf (The Health Select Committee noted that the internal market increased the administration costs of the NHS from 5% in the 1980s to 14% of total NHS budget already by 2005: http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmhealth/268/26805.htm – point 37)
- £3 Billion for the cost of the govt’s top down reorganisation (so big it can be seen from outer space, according to the ex-NHS boss): http://rcnpublishing.com/doi/full/10.7748/ns.220.127.116.1147990
- £millions spent on making staff redundant, then re-hiring them, and paying for temporary and agency staff – nearly 4,000 staff made redundant because of HSC Act have since been re-employed. Average payout £43,000: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/mar/17/nhs-staff-redundant-rehired-cheques-confetti
- £5.5billion spent on private agency workers to fill staffing shortage: http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nhs-blows-55billion-private-agency-4551944
- £1.6bn spent on NHS manager redundancy payouts since 2010: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/jul/26/nhs-managers-redundancy-payments-total
- £billions per year to repay PFI loans. In total, the amount of money to be repaid by NHS trusts will almost double, from around £50 billion in 2005/06, to more than £90 billion by 2013/14: http://www.sps.ed.ac.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0007/64357/private_finance,_public_deficits.pdf
- £millions spent on spin doctors: http://www.consultant-news.com/article_display.aspx?p=adp&id=11194
- £1 million recently wasted on the tendering process over a contract to supply older people’s healthcare in Cambridgeshire which ended up being awarded to the NHS: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cambridgeshire-29439924
He adds: “The NHS has been ranked by the influential Commonwealth Fund as the most cost effective health service. According to the international panel of experts, the UK is top of 11 countries including for efficient use of resources, not to mention being ranked as the best overall health care system in the world. But the government appears set on undermining this”.
A new party, co-founded by two doctors – former MP Richard Taylor and oncologist Dr Clive Peedell – with virtually no public awareness, no media coverage, and no money, resources or local party infrastructure, gained quite a good result in the recent elections.
The National Health Action Party (NHAP) – set up to defend the NHS and its values – polled 23,253 votes, coming 9th out of 17 parties in a very crowded field in London’s Euro election. Local election candidates around the country on average polled 20% more than the Lib Dems, 50% more than the Greens and took almost 20% of the Labour vote, gaining an average of 6% of the total vote.
NHAP condemns this government’s ‘clear agenda to increasingly privatise and commercialise the NHS’.
Promoting this agenda, they write, the BBC and the Daily Telegraph revealed their allegiance today with ‘sickening’ headlines about the sad death of a baby from a contaminated drip.
Though the food was manufactured and supplied by ITH Pharma Limited, a private pharmaceutical company, the Telegraph used this distressing story as an excuse to attack the NHS, with its headline: “15 babies poisoned by NHS drips”. This afternoon the BBC website declared: “Three new baby NHS poisoning cases”.
After a storm of protest on twitter, both organisations changed their headlines. NHAP co-leader, Dr Clive Peedell, is making formal complaints to both the Press Complaints Commission and the BBC.
Two months ago, it was also revealed that the private healthcare firm Bupa was bribing their patients to use NHS services in order to maximise the company’s profit. Yet this scandal received only limited attention in our partisan media.
NHAP is thinking seriously about the most effective way to make more people aware they exist and to build on this positive start in the recent elections. They hope to ensure that the tens of thousands of Londoners who have publicly declared they are seriously concerned about running down and selling off the NHS grows to hundreds of thousands and then millions around the country.
Today, The Big Question (BBC1) discussed the phasing out of local hospitals. Professor Terence Stephenson, who was introduced as the new chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, insisted that they should be replaced by large medical centres of specialised excellence.
Julia Manning, who was merely named – with no reference made to her role in 2020 Healthcare – eloquently supported his proposal.
Dr Clive Peedell, who had to introduce himself as a cancer specialist and co-founder of the National Health Action Party, expressed the belief that there should be centres of excellence but also a network of local hospitals.
He pointed to the findings of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development: the number of UK hospitals per 1000 of the population is already extremely low:
Dr Peedell added that many hospital beds had already been cut and that currently there is 90% occupancy – though the safe level is 85%.
Closures of hospitals or just A & E and/or maternity departments mean that emergency cases travel further and are treated later.
A & Es are being closed in many areas, or downgraded as Urgent Care Centres opening only12 hours a day. This happened at Chase Farm in Enfield, leaving what Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North, described as a ‘confusing mish-mash’ of emergency services at the site. A child died there after his mother found the UCC closed.
She wondered if undertakings given could be trusted; the local Peterborough City Hospital had been funded by PFI, which – at the time -residents were assured was a sound decision. Now it is costing £40m a year, has 31 years left to run and the arrangement can only be ended by making a very substantial one-off payment.
She also reminded those present that similar undertakings were made about mental health care when hospitals were closed; adequate care in the community ‘didn’t happen’.
If local hospitals close, Ms Manning said that GPs and district nurses would give medical care in the community. However district nurses’ numbers are down and very few are being trained. The BBC reported that official figures show that the number of district nurses has fallen by 40% in the past decade; ten years ago there were nearly 13,000 NHS district nurses in England but last year there were fewer than 7,500 and many of those are approaching retirement age.
The consultation process was briefly touched on
Nicky Campbell wondered if fast track consultation would be ‘circumventing democracy’. A search revealed that clause 118 of the Care Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, gives Clinical commissioning groups (Cogs) just 40 days to consult on changes proposed by an administrator. Their views could be overruled by NHS England, so local decision makers would have no real power over proposed changes to their hospital services.
Dr Peedell said that the changes were not being made for clinical reasons, but were financially driven – the market in healthcare actually drives up costs and there would be an increase in private medicine and health insurance.
Both doctors agreed that there was clear evidence that large specialist centres offered a better outcome for some conditions – for instance heart attacks. But Dr Peedell insisted on the need for local hospitals for many other conditions, such as asthma, where a longer journey time could be dangerous.
Monitor, the health sector regulator, reports that by 2021 the NHS will face a £30bn funding gap. Dr Peedell and a member of the audience offered solutions: hospitals are more worthy of the money readily made available to bail out banks, HMRC should also address both tax avoidance and tax evasion.
Other areas might benefit from the example of the Tees, Ask and Wear Valleys trust which paid £18m to get out of the PFI contract 23 years early, but it now owns the hospital outright and expects to save £14m over the course of the deal – once maintenance and inflation is taken into account.
The writer would like to see the taxpayers’ money already being spent on preparation for High Speed Rail 2 and the huge sum for its implementation, used to help debt-ridden hospitals.
The doctors could agree but the healthcare industry stands to lose a great deal if they do
Julia Manning of 2020 Heathcare spoke eloquently in favour of this reform. Her company’s sponsors, who include Baxter Healthcare, Bosch Healthcare, Lundbeck & Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Denplan, Gilead biopharmaceuticals, Tunstall Healthcare, Abbvie Pharmaceuticals, MSD (Merck) Pharmaceuticals, Abbott Laboratories, will agree that she is most persuasive.
But vested interest must not determine the future of Britain’s health service.