Our NHS is heading for massive change, unless we act quickly we may soon be looking at a healthcare service that has little resemblance to our NHS. The big healthcare corporations are probably rubbing their hands with glee as the Tories push hard to make drastic changes that will leave our healthcare open for a swift takeover by private enterprise. But we need to be clear about this – it will place lives at risk, it will waste public money, it will squander all that has been invested into our NHS and will serve to destroy the jewel in our nation’s crown. This is OUR NHS and our politicians are elected to work for us, to represent our interests and work for the benefit of the people. We need to make sure they remember that.
The two most pressing points in NHS policy seem to be the creation of Integrated Care Systems (ICS) and the creation of Primary Care Networks (PCN). As I have already mentioned in previous posts in East Sussex, we already have our NHS services managed by a ‘trial’ ICS. Our CCGs, County Council (ESCC) and East Sussex Healthcare Trust are joined together into the East Sussex Better Together Alliance with Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust as an affiliated partner.
Our elected councillors on ESCC no longer have complete control of spending on social care, decisions like this will be taken by the ESBT Alliance of which they are just one member. This move is damaging to local democracy and lessens the amount of say all of us will have on issues such as the running of social care and children’s services.
The aim of an ICS is to end up absorbing all the deficits of CCGs and Hospital Trusts within two years. They can talk about ‘making the NHS sustainable’ until the cows go home but you and I know that the only way deficits can be absorbed is through more cuts. But all these plans, and the plans for what is cut and by how much, are not being discussed openly. We are not being consulted on any of these plans or even told the truth about what they are planning.
An Integrated Care System will result in a single body responsible for the provision and commissioning of all health and social care services in the area (aka the American Accountable Care System). That single organisation could then be taken over by private enterprise which could be healthcare corporations, insurance companies, banks or any other private corporation. These bodies will then be provided with a set amount of money each year to work with. If local needs demand more is spent those needs will be left unmet.
Obviously if we are heading towards a situation where cuts in spending are to be introduced and where the NHS will no longer be allowed to build up deficits then the level of healthcare provision available to us will have to fall. Already we have witnessed some of the cheapest medicines no longer being provided by the NHS. The only problem with that was that then there was another set of medications which were the cheapest, so they were cut too.
The next sticking point is the Primary Care Networks, which are in themselves an integral part of the ICS system. If ICSs are going to be spending a lot less than we spend now on healthcare they need to find ways of making cuts. Firstly they can do this by reducing staffing costs. We are already seeing the introduction in our hospitals of Physician Assistants and Aprrentice Nurses – roles where people with less training are taking on work previously designated to doctors or nurses. But now GPs are being coaxed or bribed into signing up to PCNs with the offer of more staff and more money. Except the more staff part of the deal will generally mean more staff with less training and the more money will generally mean more money paid to keep patients from receiving treatment.
We will see the number of GP practices being reduced from 7,5000 across England to 1,5,00. We will see GPs moving into large hubs where many health professionals will work and where many more patients are on the books than currently we see at GP practices. It is all fine having a GP practice nowhere near your home if you are young, mobile and have transport but this will discriminate against the elderly, those with low incomes and the disabled. It will end the doctor/ patient relationship that has always served to provide us with continuity of care. This will not benefit anyone but will be particularly damaging for the elderly, those wiith complex medical histories and the mentally ill.
These proposed changes are inherently unsafe and must be stopped in their tracks. I have tried my best to explain the PCN idead in this blog post but GP and NHS campaigner Dr Bob Gill gives a brilliant explanation in this latest video that appeared on Facebook. Please do watch and share this video. Dr Gill is trying to raise money for a longer film caled the Great NHS Heist. If you wish to contribute to the funding of this film you can visit http://www.gofundme,com/thegreatnhsheist.
Trying to keep up to date with all that is happening in the NHS is like a game of cat and mouse. As soon as you start to get your head around one bit of new information something else comes along that changes everything. Information is slipped into just one sentence and hidden away on a website somewhere but that piece of information may change everything.
It is so important we work together to keep up to date with information. If you know of a proposed change to our local NHS services, or you are experiencing something new either as a patient or member of staff then please let me know. If you are campaigning in any way on NHS issues in the East Sussex area, please let me know again. Let this campaign help encourage greater support for your campaign by allowing me to promote any action being taken locally in support of the NHS on this website and through our social media pages.
I truly believe that part of the problem is that too few people understand what is happening to their NHS. So most of all, if all you can do is tell a few of the people you know about how our NHS is under threat that may be the most valuable thing you can do.
If you wish to contact me please email: email@example.com if you need me to keep your comments anonymous I will certainly do that. Don’t forget we have a Facebook page and group as well as a Twitter account.