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Councillor Harry Hayfield joins the National Health Action Party

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.

nhap graphicWhen my grandmother was put onto the Welsh NHS’ waiting list for a hip operation, I was fully aware that she would have to wait at least eighteen months.

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.”

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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

 

 

A new twist in the TTIP saga

“The Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: European Disintegration, Unemployment and Instability”

Dr Clive Peedell, (NHAP), has forwarded information about the work done recently by Jeronim Capaldo, a research fellow at the Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts University in Boston, highly ranked by QS and Times Higher Education.

According to proponents such as key mover, Stuart E. Eizenstat, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership will stimulate growth in Europe and in the US. Eizenstat enthuses at length in AT&T’s international public policy blog.

ttip meetingSome projections endorsed by the European Commission point to positive, though negligible, gains in terms of GDP and personal incomes. Others make greater claims, asserting that the deal will add over £100 billion to the UK and European economies every year.

However, social media has recorded an unprecedented level of opposition to the treaty. One representative example of such thinking by James Bruges may be seen here (scroll down).

Recent literature has pointed out several problems in the most influential assessment of the TTIP’s effects. Projections by different institutions have been shown to rely on the same Computable General Equilibrium model that has proved to be inadequate as a tool for trade policy analysis, ‘lacking microfoundations and the dual instability problem’.

gdae header

Jeronim Capaldo’s Working Paper 14-03 assesses the effects of TTIP using the United Nations Global Policy Model, which is said to incorporate more valid assumptions on global trade, macroeconomic adjustment and employment dynamics.

The UN site explains: “The model allows users to . . .trace macro-economic outcomes over short, medium and long-term timescales. It is a model of the world economy design to simulate the macroeconomic impacts on countries and regions of exogenous shocks to the global economy, the potential effects of ‘sea changes’ in market confidence (such as reversals in financial market confidence following asset price bubbles), changes in international regulation of trade and finance and the international spill-over effects of major policy changes in major economies”.

capaldoCapaldo and his team project that TTIP will lead to a contraction of GDP, personal incomes, employment, an increase in financial instability and a continuing downward trend in the labor share of GDP: “Evaluated with the United Nations model, TTIP appears to favor economic dis-integration, rather than integration, in Europe. At a minimum, this shows that official studies do not offer a solid basis for an informed decision on TTIP”.

A link to his paper is given above and the Executive Summary may be read in alarming detail here.

dr clive peedell 3Dr Clive Peedell’s party has already argued that TTIP poses multiple threats to the UK, opening up the NHS to further and permanent privatisation, removing key social and environmental protections from transnational corporations and allowing corporations to sue the UK under the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause. He adds:

“But this latest research blows a further hole in the economic argument of those who claim the deal will add over £100 billion to the UK and European economies every year. If the entire economic basis of TTIP is also now in question, there seems little reason for the deal to go ahead.”

Jeronim Capaldo (email: jeronim.capaldo@tufts.edu)

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.

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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.

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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.

dr clive peedell“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

fiona codd text

Dr Peedell itemises waste created and presided over by this government:

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”.

Government’s ‘clear agenda to increasingly privatise and commercialise the NHS’ condemned

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.

Dr Clive Peedell (left) and Dr Richard Taylor

Dr Clive Peedell (left) and Dr Richard Taylor

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.

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NHAP condemns this government’sclear 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.

telegraph headlines baby drips

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.

Phase out local hospitals? BBC 1 debate – the paediatrician and the oncologist find common ground

big question nicky campbell

prof terence stephensonToday, 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.

clive peedellDr 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:

hospital beds per 1000

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.

memebr public peterboroughAn active and concerned Peterborough resident (right) spoke several times but was not named.

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.

Solutions

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 manningJulia 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.

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Does the government plan to dismantle and increasingly privatise the NHS?

National Health Action, an organisation led by health professionals, believes that the Government’s costly and unwanted top down reorganisation is designed to dismantle and increasingly privatise the NHS, and this is happening at an alarming rate with £2.5 billion worth of NHS contracts given to the private sector since the new Health Act became law in April this year.

nhs contract race2 2013It is pointed out that the privatisation process will accelerate if NHS services are included in the EU/US Free Trade Agreement, which opens the door to global private healthcare companies to bid for NHS contracts. Another source indicates that this process is well underway:

NHA has now formed a political party and will fight hard for the NHS to be exempted from this Free Trade Agreement.

NHA co-founder/leader Dr Clive Peedell, consultant oncologist

NHA co-founder/leader Dr Clive Peedell, consultant oncologist

This was all predicted by the leaked version of the NHS Risk Register 3 years ago, which not surprisingly, the Government still refuses to publish, despite an Information Tribunal ruling in March 2012 that the public interest in publishing the risk register was “very high, if not exceptional”. A draft version of the register was leaked, revealing the risks of rising costs of GP care, poorer response to health emergencies and the high chance that managers might lose financial control of the NHS.

The Treasury clawed back £5bn of the NHS budget over the last 3 years, whilst still trying to claim that NHS spending has not fallen in real terms. It will not be able to cope with this level of cuts and service failure is inevitable. It is already happening in places and that is precisely what this Government wants to happen to allow their privatisation plans to flourish – tactics reminiscent of the 1970s Ridley Report ( see the text of The Economist article, and a link to the full report at the Margaret Thatcher Foundation).

Government propaganda: successful public services are said to “crowd out” the private sector, whereas “failing” public services are seen as ripe for privatisation

NHA observes that right wing media constantly denigrate the NHS to soften up the public to swallow the privatisation pill and seeks to expose the real reasons for the problems in the NHS: “Chronic underfunding, constant re-disorganisations, and 30 years of a failed market in healthcare with the purchaser-provider split, which has separated General Practice from Hospital care and massively increased administration costs gulping up to 10% of total NHS budget”.

NHAP logoThe NHS needs restoring and improving, not dismantling and privatising. In early 2014 we will launch our new 12 point plan for the NHS, which will keep it in public hands, reverse privatisation, increase accountability, increase the focus on public health, and reject economic austerity, which is so damaging to the health of our economy and population.

A preview:

NHS graphic

NHA: the NHS is “a precious gift to our nation following the war effort”

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