The destruction of our NHS is being done by stealth. Starting in the days of Maggie when she asked the question: “What do we do about the error of 1948?” all UK Governments have been steadily marketising our NHS. But, this Government has been pushing far harder than most to complete the final destruction of our NHS as a public service. Through their lies, their misleading language, their introduction of more and more acronyms and the manner in which significant information is quietly slipped in through a simple sentence somewhere on a website – most of us struggle to keep up with what is happening. At times I have posted updates on where we are up to so this post will be one more update. But before that update I want to make a few facts clear as many people are now starting to believe the Tory lies.
- Our NHS as a fully public service, funded entirely through taxation and free at the point of need to all, offers us the most efficient and equitable means of delivering healthcare to our nation.
- This efficient and equitable means of delivering healthcare would be entirely sustainable in today’s world.
- The problems we are now seeing in our healthcare service are not the fault of our growing population or the immigrants to this country, or the clinicians, or the Labour Party. This is a blame game being played by the politicians in Westminster who are seeking to get public support for their devestating policies on healthcare which are actually killing people.
- We can fight this, and we will have successes if we do fight it but we need to unite in our anger at the US-ification of our healthservice and make that anger known.
So now to what has been happenning –
In 2012 we had the introduction of the Health and Social Care Act (HSCA) which we were told very little about in the media. We were told it would give us patient choice and place GPs at the heart of commissioning. Primary Care Trusts were abolished and Clinical Commissioing Groups (CCG), led by GPs, were put in charge of what health services would be paid for in each area.
As we all know GPs are very busy people and trained to high standards in medicine – not in the legal, contractual business of putting services out to tender and awarding contracts. Commissioining Support Services were set up to assist the CCGs in the legal side of the business of commissioning.
The HSCA removed responsibility for providing and securing healthcare for all from the Secretary of State for Health and placed it in the hands of a new oganisation called NHS England. Simon Stevens, ex-head of American healthcare giant United Health, was appointed CEO of NHS England.
Rather unsurprisingly a subsidiary company of United Health, Optum, has become heavily involved in the reorganisation of our NHS and is probably reaping huge profits out of its destruction.
The real problems of private sector involvement in our NHS are not the private corporations involved in delivering healthcare but the management consultancy agencies who are redesigning in order to keep their profits up.
Companies such as McKinsey, KPMG, PwC and KPMG amongst many others are heavily involved in deciding what healthcare services we should all be offered. They have drawn up lists of ‘clinically effective commissioning guidelines’. This is a list of treatments which they claim are low priority and therefore have upped the threshold at which a patient becomes eligible for that treatment. If a doctor wants to refer a patient for one of these treatments the referral has to be approved by the money men who drew up these guidelines. If you want to see which treatments are now included in this list you can have a look on our CCG website but be aware this list is growing.
Recently patients walking into Warrington Hospital were greated with a ‘My Choices’ price list. Treatments now restricted by the clinically effective commissioing guidelines were being offered for those able and willing to pay. The mass outcry from the public was so great that the hospital chose to put this policy ‘on hold’. Don’t tell me campaigners have no power!
In our area we will soon see the Eastbourne Hailsham and Seaford CCG merge with Hastings and Bexhill CCG to form an East Sussex CCG. As in every other area healthcare is being managed as an Integrated Care System (ICS). This means that the CCG, East Sussex Healthcare Trust and East Sussex County Council have merged to form one organisation, East Sussex Better Together with Sussex Partnership as an associate member. This one organsation will be responsible for all health and social care in the region.
GPs have all been asked to sign up to a Primary Care Network (PCN). The PCN will then take their patient lists employ the GPs directly and dictate the terms of their work. GP surgeries will soon start to close and we will see the creation of multi-speciality hubs serving huge populations. These hubs will employ many lesser qualified people than GPs such as physician associates, nursing assistants, physios etc. Patients may never see the same person twice and will be lucky to ever see a doctor.
Soon the PCNs will be asking NHS dentists, optometrists, charities and mental health trusts to also sign up to the network. They will aim to cut 30m outpatient appointments from the hospitals in England. For each time a GP or PCN can avoid referring a patient to hospital they will share in the savings that the hospital makes. In other words they are being offered financial incentives to prevent us receiving treatment.
All these new structures within our NHS are mirror images of structures within the American healthcare system. In the States they pay twice as much as we do for healthcare, have a system that is half as efficient and have more people going bankrupt from healthcare costs than anywhere else in the world.
You may now feel in despair and feel that things have gone too far to be put right again. I know just how depressing this all is but you need to remember a few reasons why it is worth campaigning still.
- There is a vast network of NHS campaigners, with local groups throughout England, often with a high percentage of clinicians on-board and many of whom have had successes.
- You do not need to know every fact about how the NHS is being destroyed. It is easy to show that we are moving rapidly towards a US-style system and easy to show why that will not be good for our country.
- Campaigners were successful in getting the Labour Party to support the NHS Reinstatment Bill at their 2017 Conference.
- Jeremy Corbyn has always been supporting the NHS Reinstatment Bill.
- Our population cares about the NHS passionately and we all need it. Even those who use private healthcare need the people who serve them in shops, teach their kids, deliver their mail, sweep the roads, drive the trains etc to have free healthcare.
- There are many myths being propogated in our society by our biased right-wing media, so get your head round some facts and challenge anyone who believes these myths. The more of us who do this the easier it will be.
- One of the biggest problems campaigners have to overcome is the lack of understanding amongst our population. You can make a massive difference by simply talking to others as much as possible about our NHS. Help spread the word because your life may literally depend on it.