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Save the NHS!

From Susi Harris

Sunday, 22 January 2012

This government are stealing the NHS under our very noses, they are implementing the disastrous health and social care bill with no mandate (it was not in the manifesto) before it has had parliamentary approval - it's illegal.

49% of hospitals are to be turned over to the private sector. GP commissioning groups now have compulsory rules to start contracts with at least 3 private providers. The cross-party Select Committee on Health has savaged it, the Royal Colleges are against it.

So many of the promises this government has made are being broken - I'm a GP and I am seeing this on the ground, frontline services are being slashed, waiting times are going up, the NHS is being privatised now, don't believe the spin. Please read this article to find out more. And then please sign this e-petition

Thank you.

From David Telford

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sorry to disagree but no they are not! They are improving it, making the staff more patient focussed and saving us money. Please stop opposing government proposals for the sake of it, you had the chance to vote in a different government in April 10, now let this one rescue us from the mess we were in.

From Darren G

Monday, 23 January 2012

I don't usually view this website but when I have there is a balanced view on subjects. That is until I've read David Telford's post. Sorry David, you've not got a clue.

This government is hell bent on privatising our NHS. Most Doctors are very concerned, most nurses are the same. They joined the NHS partly because they agreed with the whole idea.

The Tories didn't mention this before the election because they knew people wouldn't vote for them.

So, no we didn't have a choice before the election. The slimy Tories slipped this one through the back door.

From Allen Keep

Monday, 23 January 2012

Sorry to disagree (No you aren't) but no they are not! (they are -big time) They are improving it, (no) making the staff more patient focussed (unbelievable/incredibly insulting) and saving us money (slashing the health care of the many to pay for the corruption of the few).
Please stop opposing government proposals for the sake of it (patronising/rude), you had the chance to vote in a different government in April 10, (glaringly obvious - but did she say how she voted?) now let this one rescue us from the mess we were in (they are doing a grand job).

From Dave M

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Unfortunately it may take more than an e-petition to stop the plans of this nasty government (though I did add my signature). Not living in Hungary, Nuaru or Sudan I don't remember being given a chance to vote in April 2010 but I do recall the election that took place in the UK in the May of that year in which the Conservatives gained only 36% of the popular vote.

Having a public funded health service doesn't fit in with the Tory ideology that the minority subscribe to but it seems that the Lib Dem voters of 2010 will reap another unintended consequence of their vote when the health service is left the worse for 5 years of Tory rule.

From Ian M

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

I'm assuming the turning over of hospitals to the private sector is them applying for foundation trust status allowing them to offer a limited private service.

The 49% you refer to are already FT hospitals following the introduction of the scheme by Tony Blair and his Labour government.

One of the best pieces of scaremongering I have read on this site so far!

From David Telford

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

I don't buy into the idea that docs & nurses joined the NHS because they agreed with the whole idea. I'd expect most joined because they were pretty good at biology and quite liked the idea of saving lives and earning a pretty good living.

If someone joins a profession simply for ideological reasons and expects that ideology to remain the same throughout their career, i'd say that's not realistic.

From my point of view I really don't care how the service is organised as long as it delivers the basic health needs, free at the point of delivery in the most efficient, cost effective way. If that needs a complete reorganisation of hte NHS or just a yweek, so be it.

THe NHS bill has soared and whilst some service improvemets have been seen, they have come at a price and we seem to get ever diminishing returns. If there is an improvement so be it. If it upsets a few of the proffessionals so be it.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

It's no surpise that David "doesn't care" how the NHS is run but a great many people do -and it's far from "a few professionals". I for one have always listened to professional opinion when it comes to health and as well as Suzi (who started off this discussion so well and I suspect strongly reflects the views of the vast majority of ordinary doctors,nurses and professional health staff) the BMA, the RCN and the Royal College of midwives (Marxist /Leninist) are now opposed to the bill in it's entirety.

Here, for example is an excellent argument which I hope others will find interesting and helpful (and not "scaremongoring").

It may take longer for many millions more to realise (probably the hard way) that this Bill is not about efficiency/ improvements/ choice/ empowerment but rather the balatant, shameful and (yes david you are right) ideological attack on the core values of the NHS and their destruction in favour of the rule of market forces in our health and social care provision.

If there is anything we can unite around it should be this fight to kill the bil which has no mandate and no legitimacy.

From Darren G

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I'm just so thankful we're all different and not all driven by money.
Don't get me wrong, I need money and don't like waste at all, but to turn our NHS over to the private companies will be like feeding time at the zoo.

The working conditions, wages, and general care will suffer. Just look at the nursing homes. Once they are not making big profits they run and leave the mess to the government.

We don't want our NHS to go this way, lets think about health instead of wealth, something some people can't do, but with a bit of care they might start to learn.

From Ian M

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Can we just clarify that there are no plans to turn over our NHS to the private sector at all. The plans are to allow hospitals to become foundation trusts and to then generate an income from carrying out a small portion of private work.

The reason for all the cutbacks that are being seen, is because instead of making economies elsewhere, like no longer spending thousands of pounds on bottled water or biscuits for meetings, or pieces of art work for the hospital car park, its easier to cut front line services because that has an impact that is visible and can be used as a political tool. Perhaps any GP who is truly troubled by the reduction in funding for the NHS would volunteer to take a reduction in their exorbitant salary!

From David Telford

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

I am just a customer of the NHS, thankfully a very infrequent customer of the NHS. It does not bother me how the service is organised behind the scenes as long as we get delivery. Docs & nurses may be against the bill but their reasons are not always altruistic. British Leyland's staff were able to dictate how their company was wrong and it wasn't very efficient, letting staff dictate doesn't always have a good outcome.

Rather than accept the New Statesman's view, why not make minds up by encouraging everyone to actually read the bill

We can then see the New Statesmans's article is full of supposition and subtle scaremongering. There are parts of the bill that I suspect will be difficult but the general aim is a good one.

From Paul D

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Given the apparent polar extremes of those on the left and right over the NHS, perhaps an agreed list of terms currently being used in the debate may help those wondering just who to believe.

Efficient or efficiency: a term only applicable to the private sector or those employed in it

In the national interest: whatever the coalition policy is on any issue on any given day

The truth: an ideological opinion expressed in public, a term usually repeated six times for effect

Vested interests: respected professional bodies, or those with professional experience of the NHS

Reform: allowing the private companies currently spending millions lobbying the coalition to make billions from the NHS

Barriers to reform: members of the public who read a newspaper other than the Daily Mail

Patient: an opportunity for profit;

Staff: a barrier to profit

Hope that helps anyone still a little uncertain.


From Allen Keep

Thursday, 26 January 2012

"The reason for all the cutbacks that are being seen, is because instead of making economies elsewhere, like no longer spending thousands of pounds on bottled water or biscuits for meetings, or pieces of art work for the hospital car park, its easier to cut front line services because that has an impact that is visible and can be used as a political tool."

Is this cut and paste from the Daily Mail for real or am I the victim of a spoof?

The reason for cut backs (before we even begin to take into consideration the catastrophic effects of the Bill) is the £20billion cuts demanded by the govt which Cameron ( pre-election) claimed would be "full square behind the NHS" which would be "ringfenced".

He's a liar and that is one hell of a lot of biscuits and bottled water (btw has anyone ever seen art work in a hospital car park?!).

Is this quote really suggesting that front line services are being cut to make a political point? - David Milliband could have been referring directly to contributors here when he accused flashman not onl;y of dsihonesty but also of astounding arrogance this morning.

And as for the idea that this government is not delivering the NHS to privatisation -one of the central blanks of the bill is raising the cap on the proportion of private business hospitals can take on to 49% and forcing the GP consortia ( the new choice givers) to always take the most "competitive tender" - that is the cheapest, not the best.

The tories are as clever as they are ruthless in their their determination to smash the last bastion of needs based care in Britain. They will keep the "brand" but it will not be the NHS that we know and love.


From Anne H

Friday, 27 January 2012

Re- sculptures in hospital car parks. There's a lovely brass sculpture of dancing girls by Calderdale Royal and the two controversial nude women in the Macmillan courtyard, all produced by Roger Burnett about 10 years ago. No idea of cost, but I would have thought it unlikely to have come directly out of NHS coffers. In years gone by they would have been donated by a generous benefactor but I'm not sure in this case. I for one really apreciate these sculptures. I'm not saying they make a trip to hospital more pleasant but I think they do help.

From Janet Wilson

Sunday, 29 January 2012

As Clare Sambrook writes: (27 January 2012): 'The authors of "How the Health and Social Care Bill 2011 would end entitlement to comprehensive health care in England", posted in the Lancet and republished here include public health academics Professor Allyson Pollock and David Price of Queen Mary, University of London, public interest lawyer Peter Roderick and barrister Tim Treuherz. They leave no doubt that the NHS in England is being destroyed. There is no question about that. '

The only question now is do we leave the medical professionals isolated in their opposition to the bill or do we do everything in our power to support them in this courageous opposition? …'Ask any medic who has spoken out. From the top down they are being warned to leave this Bill alone.'

As Clare says: 'This is a wake-up call to the people of England. If we do not rouse ourselves we are going to find that when we or our loved ones, friends and family, neighbours or colleagues fall ill it will be too late to ensure that medical help is available. The universal service that has lifted fear and insured our health for three generations since the Second World War will be in the hands of international corporate 'providers' who profit from scarcity.'

From Susi Harris

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Please if you want to be better informed about these reforms, read the article by Martin McKee, professor of European public health in the BMJ last week. I will happily email to anyone who is interested (I have his permission). In a nutshell he cannot see why the reforms are necessary as the NHS was providing a rapidly improving standard of healthcare (and having been a GP for 20 years, I can testify to the massive improvement I have seen in the last 5 before the change of govt.) He cannot see what the reforms are designed to do, and he cannot see why they are being so rushed.

If you think I am scaremongering, read the leader in the Lancet today: 'The end of our National Health Service'

Ask yourself why it is not just the unions, but the Royal Colleges, and the all-party Select Committee on Health that are expressing grave concerns or explicitly opposed to the bill.

By the way, you may think I am overpaid, but that has nothing to do with this debate and I am happy to continue that conversation on another thread.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 30 January 2012

I'm 100 per cent against more corporate involvement in the NHS, but let's not get so starry-eyed about the NHS that we forget the urgent need for reform. Stafford Hospital, the routine neglect and abuse of elderly patients, denial of any error, victimisation of whistle-blowers... there are lots of things badly wrong with the NHS and they're all failures of supposedly caring professionals, not failures of systems or ideologies or private companies. If we 'save' the NHS but don't fix what is wrong with the culture and management of many NHS hospitals, we won't be an inch further forward.

I've got two good English friends - one a staunch socialist - who live abroad and are familiar with both the NHS and the French and German equivalents. Both consider the NHS to be inferior, and by a wide margin. So let's defend the NHS, but with the qualification that many of the people working in it need a very loud wake-up call.


From Susi Harris

Monday, 30 January 2012

Thanks to Janet Wilson for posting that article!

Ian M, you say: "Can we just clarify that there are no plans to turn over our NHS to the private sector at all. The plans are to allow hospitals to become foundation trusts and to then generate an income from carrying out a small portion of private work".

No the plans are to force hospitals to become foundation trusts (which are not allowed to make a loss - they go under if they do), And ALLOW them to use up to 49% of them for private work. (Personally I don't think that is a small proportion!).

So if the hospitals fail they go under and a private company can tender for the work. Or they can avoid failing by bringing in private work. I don't know how you would define 'turning over our NHS to the private sector' but for me this comes to much the same thing.

From Susi Harris

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Graham, it would be interesting to know when your friends accessed their healthcare in these countries. This is a cut and paste from the BMJ article I was talking about:

My first problem is understanding the problem the changes are trying to solve. The government argues that reform is needed because the NHS is performing so badly in international terms. Yet the evidence it has produced, such as deaths from heart attacks, has been totally discredited (BMJ 2011;342:d566 ) and one independent source after another, from the Commonwealth Fund in the United States to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), has produced reports showing that while the UK once lagged behind other countries, when the amount of money spent on it was among the lowest of any industrialised country, it is now improving at a faster rate than almost anywhere else (Gay JG et al. OECD, 2011). This is confirmed by our own work, again using avoidable mortality, which the Department of Health has now adopted as its own high level indicator of health system performance. What's more, on many indicators, such as coordination of care, the NHS outperforms all the rest. Crucially, the OECD has argued that the UK would have done even better if it had not continually been reorganising the NHS

We still spend a great deal less on Healthcare than either Germany or France - German healthcare, I'm told wastes loads of money on competition, adverts, special offers, things designed to entice you to particular services. I have a certain distaste for all that, having been brought up to believe it was unethical from med school onwards, but be that as it may, I can't see the point of wasting money in that way, especially now.

From Graham Barker

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Susi - my friends have been able to make healthcare comparisons for around ten and forty years respectively. One received life-saving care in Germany twice in the past twelve months.

Regarding the extract you quote, there are statistics and there is experience. The two do not always match up. I'm sure that the statistics at Stafford Hospital would have been immaculate while they were killing patients.


From Susi Harris

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Graham, in the trade we call that anecdotal evidence and don't rank it as highly as the statistical sort (so long as the statistics are sound). Still I am very pleased to hear your friend made it through two life-threatening illnesses.

I don't know if you have seen this article jointly written by the editors of the British Medical Journal, (doctors) The Health service Journal (managers) and the Nursing Times (obvious)

In it a PCT Chief executive is quoted as saying he doesn't now know if there is another Mid-Staffs on his doorstep. In the chaos that is these half-baked reforms, there are people, experts in their fields being made redundant whilst GPs sit in meetings trying to work out which of them to re-employ in the new bureaucracies that are being created, in a piecemeal, rushed ill thought-through fashion.

Calderdale is ahead of some of the rest in implementing reforms. Unlike some other areas not so far away, we have a clinical commissioning group with a board and a chair, made up of local GPs and nurses (you may prefer them to be seeing patients). But now we hear that even this is not the end of the reorganisation and it is recommended that CCGs merge into meta-CCGS (about the size of the old PCTs, as it happens).

And I cannot tell you the amount of uncertainty that exists out there, that this will all be ready in time (April 2013). I know of several Calderdale GPs in their early 50s, dedicated respected doctors at the peak of their profession, who are intending to retire in the next 1-4 years, citing their lack of willingness to work with this utter chaos as a significant part of their reasoning.

This is a haemorrhaging of our expertise and experience that no amount of structural reform can replace. Even if at heart, these reforms are the right ones, they are being so badly handled, that they cannot hope to improve healthcare, nor even to save money for several years.

Yes, as Fiona Godlee, editor of the BMJ put it on R4 this morning, the NHS has always got to change, in response to the demographic and technological changes that take place. But the current situation, with what's left of the people in the old structures, frozen in uncertainty over how to carry on doing the job when there are hardly any of them left, and at the same time they must merge with Wakefield and Kirklees, who are all going at different speeds, and work out how to do the job across 3 sites instead of one, whilst at the same time advising the Clinical Commissioning Groups on how to do the job, and planning for their own organisation's demise (whilst at the same time, as individuals, applying for new jobs in the new structures) is not exactly good for leadership and a sense of direction.

But I don't want to just scaremonger, we need to think how to get out of this. We actually need to help the coalition save face, so they can agree to slow down, take stock, let everyone get up to speed and then just see if we have adequately managed the risks, or if there are unintended consequences just around the corner that could be damaging to the people of Calderdale. The truth is, at the moment, nobody knows.

From Janet Wilson

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Cynthia Bower is chief executive of the health and social care regulator the Care Quality Commission, under the government's new privatisation program. The Guardian (6/dec, 2011) has reported that ..'the Care Quality Commission has, critics say, either lost the confidence of many of those whom it seeks to police or even – to quote Cure the NHS, the patient campaign group composed of relatives who died because of poor care at Stafford hospital – become unfit for purpose.'

The scandal in Mid Staffordshire Hospitals Trust reminds us how implementing government "reforms" led to their failure to protect the public. Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust was granted foundation status a few months after the alert over excess deaths had been raised. Monitor, the body in charge of awarding foundation trust status, had not even asked if the watchdog had any concerns. The Healthcare Commission was pioneering "light touch" regulation of hospitals that relies on self-reporting, rather than on inspections.

Cynthia Bower was chief executive of the West Midlands Strategic Health Authority which saw no reason to investigate the hospitals.

The government offered incentives to NHS managers to seek trust status and pressurised them into making huge budget cuts. Had they not chosen to do so, up to 1,200 patients who died needlessly might still be alive today.


From Susi Harris

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Lots more NHS news over the weekend, none of it good for govt, including a fairly anti-Lansley article in the Telegraph(!)

Today we hear yet another 2 bodies (NHS Alliance and National Association of Primary Care) who traditionally were in support of the bill are now very concerned about it saying GPs will not be free to commission after all, and the bureaucracy will be far more complex than what we have now! (Backers of NHS shake-up turn against Andrew Lansley's plans)

I know its all very confusing, (some say deliberately so, but I prefer cock-up to conspiracy I think) just came across this interactive explainer which helped me to get my head around it a bit . . .

This bill will go to the Lords tomorrow where it may well be considerably amended but of course the government threw out all the lords' amendements to the benefits bill so what's to stop them doing it again?

Please make it your business to understand this bill, it will affect every one of us, please write to your MP to express your concerns, and urge others to do the same.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

I'm really glad Suzi and Janet have kept this discussion alive - their arguments and evidence abvout the need to defend the NHS are excellent.

For many, the complexity of the bill and the details of the arguments around it must be quite daunting but to me the essentials are these.

  1. The Bill has no mandate and no credible or substantial support outside the coalition of the priviliged. The opposition to the Bill within the medical profession from top to bottom, from ordinary health workers and their unions and from service users is overwhelming and hardening.
  2. The coalition have failed to make any case for the need to reform. The overwhelming evidence shows the NHS to be the most poular and efficient health service in the industrial world. Most importantly, it is the world leader in providing health care directly linked to need and with the least social inequality of service provision anywhere.
  3. At the very least, the Bill is an expensive (£3bn) and bureaucratic nightmare threatening confusion and disruption at a time when £20m of cuts are demanded. The risks to health care provision and continuity of service are enourmous(n.b - the coalition have assessed the risk but have refused, illegally,twice, to publish the results)
  4. The Bill explicitly proposes the abandonment of the fundamental principle of the NHS and the abdication of the responsibility of the secretary of state (and the bodies which will replace the primary care trusts) to not just provide but to promote universal and free health care for all. That will end.
  5. Whatever the language the coalition of the damned use, their agenda is to finally fully open the NHS to the market as a top down, bureaucratic enterprise opportunity for private capital and competitive health care provision with one driving force - profit. A US style health service.

6 months ago I felt this Bill was a done deal - that the NHS could vanish before our eyes with little opposition and largely unnoticed it seemed. Now, I believe this government has been backed towards the ropes on the issue. There is talk of panic, the need for concessions and even of an "arab spring" in the NHS.

No amount of amendments are going to alter the fundamental nature of this Bill. I have to disagree with Suzi that it is time for a pause (we have had that) or to allow the coalition to save face. The common call for all should be to Kill the Bill entirely. It has to go.

Where I completely agree with Suzi is that there is a desperate and timely need, now, for anyone and everyone to join the opposition to the Bill. Support local campaigns, raise motions in your trades unions demanding action, Email your MP, adopt a Lord (see the 38 degrees site for instance), write letters, sign petitions, raise awareness with colleagues and neighbours.

Do anything you can. At this crucial point every voice and action will make a difference.

From Cllr Susan Press

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Like everyone else in this country I have much to thank the NHS for. I was born in 1957 just after its conception in circumstances ( two months premature, breech, umbilical cord round neck) which before the NHS was founded would have been life-threatening.

Since then, most of us have got used to the notion of a healthcare system free at the point of use and universally available.

If this Bill goes ahead, and the Tories get their way, all that will change.
I agree wholeheartedly with all the above points from Allen and Susi.
What is most repugnant to me is the notion that hospitals will be able to make up to 49 per cent of beds available to the private sector.

Aneurin Bevan, the Labour Minister whose baby the NHS was, always regretted making the concessions to the BMA which kept private medicine alive. Now even they are opposed to this awful Bill. Keep lobbying and campaigning - this Bill needs to be killed off not amended.

And Lansley must go .

From Peter Lazenby

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

The Tories have actually started implementing the privatisation before the legislation allowing it has gone through. Such is their arrogance. Every professional group within the NHS is opposed.

I was one of the early NHS babies, born in 1949, and several members of my family spent their working lives as nurses or health visitors, and two were old-fashioned hospital matrons at Jimmy's in Leeds.

Let's not forget that though the Tories have drawn up the privatisation plans and are pushing them through, they couldn't be doing it without the help of their partners the Lib-Dems. Maybe people will remember that come the local elections in May.

From Susi Harris

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

David Cameron thinks the reforms will reduce bureaucracy in the NHS
Just have a look at these two diagrams here and here - admittedly they are from the Labour party but all of it is true as far as I understand it (Note the two grey boxes on the second diagram will be gone after April 2013)

It is hard to imagine how the intended future commissioning of independent and third sector healthcare with all the billing and paying and checking of invoices that will entail can possibly reduce bureaucracy

I would dearly love to kill this bill, don't get me wrong. Last week I didn't think it was possible. But we have 2 Tory GPs (Sarah Woollaston and Rachel Joyce) and I hear a Tory blogger and even the Telegraph and the Times, starting to report negatively on the bill, and the House of Lords defeating the government on it today - I am starting to think maybe it is possible! Plus the e-petition has suddenly gone up by 5,000 when it was only going up by about 1,000 a day all last week....

From David Telford

Thursday, 9 February 2012

I'm really disappointed at the misinformation we are being fed. Councillor press, with her background as a hack & political ambitions should be able to understand the facts and present them in an unambiguous way, to suggest, having read the proposals, that the nhs will no longer be free at the point of service delivery, shows a total lack of comprehension.

The profession and unions may well be against the proposals but they have their own axe to grind, we had the unions dictating and destroying British industry in the 60's & 70's, done really want them destroying the nhs in 2012?

The NHS has grown out of all proportion to the blueprint Bevan proposed in the post war period. It's been surpassed by the Germans, French and even the less vibrant of economies. We have a lot to be thankful for but we need a cost effective efficient nhs which is affordable now and for generations to come, we must learn from the mistakes of being hostage to union power and resistance to change. The NHS needs to constantly improve and these proposals allow that.

During the artificial boom, Brown threw money at the NHS with diminishing returns and wasted so much of our money, now the party is over we need to be realistic, spend what we can afford and improve via BPR with a flexible mobile labour pool.

From Susi Harris

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sorry I don't mean to hog this forum but I have just seen this.

The NHS London risk register of implementation of the reforms - if you are familiar with the R.A.G. system this will make uncomfortable viewing. Red= in danger of not being achieved, yellow=in progress but not yet achieved, Green= achieved. As you can see no green, a bit of yellow, mostly red.

It is probably the scariest thing I have seen to date as it is written by people who actually know what they are talking about (unlike politicians)

It suggests that problems with implementing the new system could delay improvements to patients' health - even after proposed mitigation measures to ensure a smooth transition.

From Susi Harris

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Dear Mr Telford, rather than telling me what style of working you think is suitable for me, why don't you think about yourself! How sure are you that you and your family will be as well looked-after as they are now?

Today I saw a patient whom the nurse had asked me to see just before Christmas after she mentioned a lump when the nurse was taking her blood tests. I was very worried about the lump and made a rapid referral to the hospital. She got a text with her appointment as she was in the car driving south for her holidays. She was seen immediately she returned and had her operation the following week, and speaks highly of the sympathetic consultant who treated her.

Whilst she was being seen our pathology links system flagged up an abnormal blood test from the ones we had taken before christmas and the hospital treated it there and then. That's integrated high quality healthcare. Flexible workforce=fragmented healthcare - are you sure that's what you want?

From Allen Keep

Friday, 10 February 2012

Andrew Lansley's defence of the indefensible becomes ever more desperate and descends into embarrasing humiliation which is as pathetic as it is pitiful. No wonder a "Tory aide" suggested he be taken outside and shot - it's the only humane thing to do.

Don't worry Andrew! Mr T is here to rescue you with a particularly robust and coherent defence of your perfectly reasonable Bill. Watch and learn.
First, dismiss all evidence, no matter how much there is or whether it comes from credible sources such as the OECD (Marxist) as "misinformation". Be very careful not to provide any evidence in support of the Bill, even if you have any, and distract your opponents by being really rude and offensive about them (calling the BMA "poisonous" was good - and could even be seen as an attempt at irony).

Next lump all the opposition against the Bill together (professional associations, medical colleges, patients groups - the entire country if necessary) and tell them their problem is they should really stop complaining just because they have a chip on their shoulder.

Don't forget to remind everyone that really it is the unions who are behind all this and that they are dictators who destroyed British industry. God knows what they would do if the got their hands on the NHS.
Next, tell everyone that we need a cost effective NHS (It sounds good) and hope they don't realise that we already have one and fail to notice that the Bill will cost £3billion for starters.

Then tell them we need to improve because no one can disagree with that and leave them with the entirely unsubstantiated assumption that the Bill wil do just that because we say it will they'll never notice - they are all very slow).

Finally, think of some phrases that will sound vaguely coherent but are in fact nonsensical, (initials are good) and hope that shuts them up.

You are on to a winner Andrew. This Bill is going to sail through.

From Susi Harris

Sunday, 12 February 2012

What's this? The Mail on Sunday alleging conspiracy and corruption in the development of the NHS reforms?

From Susi Harris

Monday, 13 February 2012

This morning we hear from the Lancet that the original figures used to calculate productivity by the National Audit Office were wrong and in fact the NHS became more productive than less under the last Government (as well as more popular).

And from the Sunday Mail the explosive news that McKinsey is no innocent player just kindly training the GPs in how to do commissioning - this reveals they have been closely involved in the reform process firstly as architects of the reforms, now doing this training, and why? Because some of their clients are US healthcare companies looking to break through the UK healthcare barrier. - the Mail even calls it a "Hijack of the NHS" Apologies for posting this link twice but think its worth shouting about!

McKinsey even say so on their website: (see 3rd arrow down on the left)

From Jonathan Timbers

Monday, 13 February 2012

Foreign Secretary William Hague is an 'ex' McKinsey associate, so the policy stinks to high heaven.

Their NHS policy is as unnecessary, ill-thought out and destructive as their austerity policy or their policy on the feeding tarriff.

Thanks to Suzi for raising this and for demonstrating the heart-warming commitment of local GPs to the NHS.

From Susi Harris

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

For those who are now in despair, Shirley Williams has the answer on how to get out of this mess.

To me, it makes alot of sense. I do think Health and Social care integration could help us manage the demographic problem (we are getting older)

I disagree with her that Andrew Lansley is to be congratulated in cutting down the bill for administration. It's not hard to simply sack loads of people and leave skeleton administrations in a state of paralysis, which is what has happened. None of the people in what's left of the PCTs and SHAs know what will happen to them yet after their organisations are completely shut down though they have been sent letters telling them there are a number of options and they will find out soon (after 18 months of waiting). They are all doing 2 or 3 people's jobs - hard to know who does what any more, and even after you find out, you know they won't be there for long, so hard to do any meaningful work like planning healthcare.

From David Telford

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

The NHS bill is not just a handful of lines.

The opposition to it can only pick out a few issues it actually feels is wrong, the real opposition is simply ideological.

Most of the bill is very sensible and the aims to create efficiencies which has to be a good thing in a fairly cumbersome organisation. Most comparable economies get more out of their healthcare services for less money than we do so that would suggest we can improve ours and get beetter value.

Jonathan, the bill is a blueprint for improvement and it is required if we're going to get an affordable NHS for generations to come. If the comment is that the bill is as "destructive as their austerity policy" well, the economy certainly needed addressing and the austerity policy is absolutely spot-on, if that's the measure, I'd say the coalition are right about the NHS too.


From Susi Harris

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

you are quite right, the bill is bigger than the one which set up the NHS in the first place and now has over 130 amendments tagged onto it. I'm not sure that this is a good thing, in fact I think it is likely that almost nobody really understands it now, even if they did before!You urged us to read it in an earlier post (and thanks for the link). If you have perhaps you could tell us what you like/think particularly good about it?

But your throwaway comment that "Most comparable economies get more out of their healthcare services for less money than we do..." needs some substantiation. This paper should enlighten you on what we spend. . I'm interested in fig 10 particularly - massive 'hidden spend' on private healthcare in the US and even then hundreds of thousands of them go bankrupt every year due to healthcare expenses. The Coalition should explain the differences between where they are taking us and US healthcare - what safeguards are in place to prevent us following them?
This article shows that the rate of improvement in preventing preventable deaths (amenable mortality) over the last 10 years ranks the UK second highest in the world whilst US is lowest (see fig 5 on page 20)

In the meantime I think we should all read this for constructive and well-informed advice on healthcare reform. This section seems to me to be particularly important:

"6. There is no health care system that performs systematically better in delivering cost-effective health care. In fact, the efficiency estimates vary more within country groups sharing similar institutional characteristics than between groups. In other words, big-bang reforms are not warranted. Rather, it may be more practical and effective for each country to adopt the best policy practices implemented by countries in its own group while borrowing the most appropriate elements from other groups".

Especially as we now know that massive reforms usually delay progress for 18m-2years!

The conclusion at the end seems to suggest France is delivering best value for money, but earlier on the article points to high administrative costs in France - it seems you can't have everything, and there is no perfect system.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Mr Telford. At last, a stone cold fact that we can agree on "the NHS Bill is not just a handful of lines". Well done.

And then it all goes wrong..." the opposition can only pick out a few issues". What?!..the issues are all too numerous as the discussion on this thread alone reveals (I haven't even started on many of them).
Even if there was only one issue it would probably be this. What the Bill does is to draw the template for the end of universal and free healthcare based on need and its replacement by a privatised system based on profit. Simples.

And, yes David, my personal opposition to that is ideological and I'm proud of it.

But wait, there is another "argument" David puts forward dressed up, obviously, in unsubstantiated, (perhaps even ideological?)assertions i.e the Bill is "sensible" it "aims to create efficiencies". And then we get a substantive point (hurrah!) - " most comparitive economies get more out of their healthcare services for less money than we do".
Nice one. If it were true.

The evidence (or was it misinformation?) already quoted on this thread, from the OECD (marxist/leninist) for instance, suggests the opposite is the case. Where's your evidence David? Please share.

I understand the US (a comparible economy?) spends proportionally twice as much of it's GDP on health as the UK does despite the fact that the health system of the former is almost entirely private while the latter almost entirely public - and yet the health "outcomes" for patients are signigificantly better and the inequalities in healthcare substantially less in the UK. What does the US spend its money on I wonder....

While we reflect on that we can rest assured that the Bill is a "blueprint for improvement" and is "required" (as of course is austerity!!). Why? Because David says it is.

Well not by me it isn't and not by the overwhelming majority, I'm certain, of the ordinary men and women of this country.

David, your "argument" has no validity, legitimacy or credibility. Like Mr Lansley you are in danger (not that either you or he will be bothered) of making an utter fool of yourself.

From David Telford

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Susi, I think we can agree that there is more than one way to operate a health-care system and I do agree with you that large scale reforms are not the best way to deal with improving the NHS, however, the nature of centralised command-and-control systems mean that it needs such large scale announcments in order to create change whic is why small distrubuted management tends to work well in other industries.

What the OECD says is that the UK NHS has more scope to improve efficiencies than pretty much any other health service. This backs up the need for change.

I'd take issue with your Lancet claims that the bill is in fact a Trojan horse for private companies taking over key services and removing the principle that health care should be free at the point of delivery. The bill is very clear that this is not the case.

It's all very well claiming for the Lancet authors to claim the private sector providors are poised to make a killing out of the NHS. The Economist reveals that he private sector is, if anything, rather gloomy at the bill. In particular, key operators believe that the constraints now placed on Monitor, the health regulator, "mean that only large of state backed private operators would stand a chance of passing the fiscal rectitude tests and requirements on equity and debt which would qualify them to compete." In short, far from an onslaught of private companies, seizing patients from GPs and NHS wards.

@ Allen Keep - You've not read the bill correctly if you think it is a template for the "end of universal and free healthcare based on need". The bill clearly maintains that core health care remains free at point of delivery.

Having an ideological approach means that you take your focus away from the point of a good health care service and takes you on an ideological path to a health care system that fits in with your own set of values. Being pragmantic is far better as it ensures that I stay focussed on the real requirements of the consumer rather than those that an ideology gives.

I'm not sure what evidence you need, I'm taking the information that Susi provided from the OECD and the bill itself, I'm wondering if you have read either. It's not me who's making a fool of myself here, I'm not the one who can't debate a subject without going around the houses. I certainly will not speak for the ordinary men and women of this country, I'm sure they can make their minds up for themselves and it's not for me or you to assume that our way is best.

I'll help you with your "argument" (why the inverted commas i really don't know) I'll admit that the marketisation of anything will always fall short of perfectly effiient as wherever we introduce choice, there must be a built in over-supply, that is the inherent problem with choice. The great advantage is that parties will look to minimise their over-supply by providing a better more efficient service. In most areas of life this works very well and their is evidence in the OECD piece that that applies in health as well (although there are also examples otherwise). THe trick is to ensure we get the best of both worlds where we have an efficient mixed health economy.

I've perhaps been unclear for the need of austerity in the economy. Of course that is not what is needed alone, we need to allocate our resources on creating long-term sustainable growth and stop spending money in areas that will not achieve any upside, it's as simple as that.

From Susi Harris

Friday, 17 February 2012

I hadn't read the Economist article - can u put a link? If its true the big companies feel its a tough environment here, I'd be delighted. However I work in Drugs Services, treating people mainly but also very aware of and at times involved in, commissioning side. And I know how private providers make it their business to submit very good bids, they know what commissioners like to see, and they can talk the talk. They have whole teams of people who's job is is to do just that, get out there and tout for business. That just isn't the case with NHS providers, they have never had the skills, or experience, and they assume that just because they have always done this work, they know what's needed and don't read the spec properly. And they tend to cooperate and share stuff, the idea of corporate secrecy is anathema. So they don't stand a chance - I've had many a commissioner tell me that.

They're getting better now, of course, and some of them are positively cagey, but there was a massacre at first, and an awful lot of time wasted writing bids which have to be submitted in three hefty stages, then interviews, if you're lucky, then if you get contract, massive upheaval for everyone, time wasted in inductions, new email address, badges policies, procedures, fire drills, mobile pin numbers, door codes, keys, fobs, logins, you name it - it all just wastes so much time and money!

OK so we have some agreement. Wholesale reform is not the answer. Cuts can never really be helpful.

But I don't agree about the care continuing to be provided 'according to need' after this bill. That's exactly what it won't be. Firstly due to a postcode lottery of care, and secondly due to an increase in private provision, health inequalities, which are already far too wide in Yorkshire (did u see the YP yesterday? disparity of 7+ years in life expectancy between males in different parts of Bradford I think.) are likely to grow even wider. Is there no little bit of ideology in you that says 'This is wrong!'?

As to free at the point of use I think there's no point anybody bucking that if there are cuts there is rationing, and treat us like grown ups and engage us in that conversation. But that's not what they say is it ? What you hear is the oft repeated soothing words: 'everybody gets the care they need' - its a platitude! One believes it if you want to believe it and still can, knowing what you know.

I actually preferred Calderdale Council's approach of surveying people on what they wanted CUT. Its a lot less stressful if you believe you have a say. But what rationing means is some people paying for procedures or treatments which are no longer available on the NHS. And for every new thing we get, we have to get rid of something. So an escalating number of things you pay for - like dentists and prescriptions now. We may pay for podiatry, maybe dressings, sutures, xrays, already now in may hospitals the TV and phone are chargeable as well as the car parking of course and all not cheap. It all erodes 'free at the point of use' the question is, how far it will go?

And I come back to the point about integrated care. The service I now work in is in direct partnership with three others, it works, mostly, I think quite well, but so much time has to be put in on just maintaining the dialogue, and odd little barriers appear and trip you up, for instance in the service where I work, the employees of our partnership organisation are no longer allowed to hand prescriptions to patients, so if a handover is needed, I have to be dragged out of my room to go out there and do it! And if we get pressure put on us such as the threatened retender in the next year or two, we may find those relationships become more difficult - none of us want that. And nor would the patients if they knew.

This is the threat of marketisation as much as privatisation. You've acknowledged its not necessarily efficient, it won't save money, and I've shown it will great barriers to care that will take a lot of work to build bridges over. Pretty fragile and unstable situation. I guess its like the difference between marriage and an open relationship. it could work. It could be exciting, but you know its risky.

And the frightening thing is the risks are not being managed, they're simply not being acknowledged - not releasing the risk register can mean only on thing, they are in complete denial. A report came out yesterday highlighting possible risks to patient safety after the bill. Some people's health is very fragile - I met two people today who told me slept out in the street last night because they have nowhere to go. I will not feel proud to belong to a country that doesn't care if they die.

From Allen Keep

Friday, 17 February 2012

David. Here's what you said

"most comparitive economies get more out of their healthcare services for less money than we do".

I asked for evidence to back this up.

You said "What the OECD says is that the UK NHS has more scope to improve efficiencies than pretty much any other health service. This backs up the need for change."

Tell me where the OECD say that (I fear I've missed it). When you have found it tell me how it provides evidence for your claim above. If you manage that (good luck) I will accept it is evidence for a "need to change" (actually I'm quite relaxed about an improvement agenda in the NHS - who doesn't want improvement?).

You will then need to explain, as Susi has invited you, to explain why this particular change is necessary/ desirable - which apart from unsubstantiated assertions and truisms you (and Lansley ) have completely failed to do.

As for the "trojan horse". Really David, you must be one of the few people in Britain who fails to recognise that this is about at least some level of privatisation of the NHS.

At best we have the unashamed announcement by the coalition of the priviliged that 49% of care in FT hospitals can , in future, be private!!
And, here's a surprise, the Bill doesn't spell out that it intends to turn the NHS over to private health care companies. That would be insane (I would however be grateful David if you could direct me to the bit that says health care remains free at the point of delivey - I seem to have missed that one also).

The 1948 Bill established the role of the secretary of State ( and the institutions of the NHS that allocate health care provision, currently the PCTs which are to be scrapped) to actively promote universal and free healthcare based on need.

Can you tell me where in the current Bill it says that this satutory duty of the secretary of state and/or the institutions which allocate healthcare (the newly formed CCGs) remains as such?

Could you suggest, if you can't find it, why this appears to be missing?
When you have done that perhpas you could have another look at this paragraph.

"Having an ideological approach means that you take your focus away from the point of a good health care service and takes you on an ideological path to a health care system that fits in with your own set of values. Being pragmantic is far better as it ensures that I stay focussed on the real requirements of the consumer rather than those that an ideology gives."

Taking aside the patronising and meaningless nonsense of it I'll make one point - I'm not defending "my" values - I'm fighting for those that the NHS was based on, those that my father fought for when he went to war against fascism and those that provide a system of health care that is truly the envy of the world.

David, it's just about meeting the needs of people - not "consumers"
Being "pragmatic" and " focussed" may be better for you. What it really is is an abdication of care and responsibility for others. It's compassionless and devoid of humanity.

Good luck with an ideology like that. I almost pity you.

From David Telford

Sunday, 19 February 2012

The WHO ranks us 18th behind the likes of France, Italy, Austria etc. In terms health care delivery. Not bad but going back to my point, suggests someone is doing it better.

France, Germany, Austria and others rank far higher in terms of client satisfaction than the UK.

In the OECD paper Susi links, read paragraph 3 and fis 2 A, B & C to see where UK ranks as gaining from potential efficiency saving.

In the bill itself, part 1.1.3 confirms health care will remain free at point of delivery.

If I'm being ideological if i don't care how the NHS delivers parts of it's service either privately or through NHS then I'm being ideological, I think it's pragmatic. I'd say sub anything out if someone else can do it more efficiently.

I do agree with teh general point that we do not want to go down the US route but the US does deliver far better innovation and coupled with Pharma innovation, it does perform impressively - albeit at a cost.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Someone very kindly put together a list of people who just may have an interest in the NHS becoming more closely entwined with private health care interests. I wonder how they might vote in any futre debates in the lords or the commons?

Please don't be alarmed - it's just disinformation and scaremongering.
Personally I don't believe any of it.

The coalition of the privileged have no intention of privatising the NHS (it's not in the Bill)

Baroness Bottomley of Nettlestone: Conservative - The former Conservative Health Secretary Virginia Bottomley is a Director of BUPA, the health insurance, private hospital and care group.

Lord Naseby: Conservative - Chairman of and a share-holder in Invesco Perpetual Recovery Trust. One fifth of their investments are in pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies.

Lord Wakeham: Conservative - Advisor to L.E.K. Consulting, which specialises in helping private healthcare companies identify "growth and new business development" and "opportunities with the government".

Lord Hunt of Wirral: Conservative - Partner in Beachcroft, a law firm that offers incisive analysis on the full range of government, parliamentary and regulatory matters in the health sector.

Lord Lang of Monckton: Conservative - Director of Marsh & McLennan Companies that "help hospitals, insurers, pharmaceutical companies and industry associations understand the implications of changing policy environments".

Baroness Cumberlege of Newick: Conservative - Former Tory health minister, runs Cumberlege Connections, a political networking firm that works "extensively" with the pharmaceutical industry.

Baron Higgins of Worthing: Conservative - Holds in excess of £50,000 of shares in Lansdowne UK Equity Fund, backers of private hospital group Circle Holdings.

Baron Newton of Braintree: Conservative - Advisor to Oasis Healthcare on dentistry and general healthcare matters.

Baroness Hogg of Kettlethorpe: Crossbench - Chair of Frontier Economics, a consultancy that advises private sector clients on the impact of healthcare reforms and how "to shape regulatory environments".

Lord Freeman: Conservative - The ex-health minister is chairman of the Advisory Board of ­PricewaterhouseCoopers, which claims to have "been at the heart of shaping ­[healthcare] reforms and working with clients to respond to the opportunities they present".

Lord Ribeiro: Conservative - Adviser on hospital reorganisation to PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Lord Blackwell: Conservatives - Chairman of Interserve, consultancy to NHS and private healthcare firms.

Lord Blyth of Rowington: Conservative - Senior adviser to ­investment bankers Greenhill. Boots Chemists deputy chairman. Tory Donor.

Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Conservative - Senior adviser to ­Evercore, bank involved in huge healthcare deals.

Lord Garel-Jones: Conservative - MD of UBS bank, whose healthcare division earned the firm over $1billion since 2005.

Lord Griffiths of Fforestfach: Conservative - Director of Goldman Sachs bank, provider of services to healthcare firms.

Lord Howard of Lympne: Conservative - Senior adviser to ­Hawkpoint Partners, a corporate finance firm.

Lord Tugendhat: Conservative - Adviser to Trilantic Capital Partners, a private equity firm "active" in healthcare.

Lord Coe: Conservative - Director of AMT-Sybex Group, IT supplier to the NHS.

Lord Magan of Castletown: Conservative - Director of the SISK Group of healthcare companies.

Lord Ballyedmond: Conservative - Chairman of pharmaceutical company Norbrook Laboratories.

Lord Chadlington: Conservative - Chief executive of Huntsworth communications group with several lobbying firms.

Lord Bell: Conservative - Chairman of Chime Communications group, whose lobbying clients include Southern Cross, BT Health and AstraZeneca.

Baroness Hooper: Conservative - Until July 11, chairman of Advisory Committee of Barclays Infrastructure Funds, one of the most experienced investors in hospital PFI deals.

Lord Ashcroft: Conservative benches and funder - Until 2010, held investments in two private healthcare groups.

Lord Hutton of Furness: Ex-health minister is an adviser to law firm Eversheds. Clients include care homes and private hospitals.

Lord Clement-Jones: Liberal Democrats - Partner in DLA Piper, a global law firm providing lobbying services to "clients in the health and social care sectors".

Lord Taverne: Liberal Democrats - Chairman of private health insurer Axa Sun Life's monitoring board.

Lord Patten of Barnes: Conservative - Adviser to private equity firm Bridgepoint.

Lord McColl - Conservative - is a paid consultant to a new private healthcare company that provides a fee-paying rival to the National Health Service's family doctor service. Endeavour Health, which was set up by two hedge fund advisers, claims to be Britain's first comprehensive GP network, offering access to the best doctors and the opportunity to beat NHS queues and have appointments at any time they want.


David Cameron - Nursing and care home tycoon Dolar Popat has given the Conservatives £209,000. The Ugandan-born dad-of-three has amassed an estimated £42million fortune as founder and chief of TLC Group, which provides services for the elderly. Mr Cameron made the businessman a peer shortly after entering No10 last May, and Lord Popat's donations include a £25,000 gift registered a week after the Tories' health reforms were unveiled last July.

Andrew Lansley - Conservative - John Nash, the chairman of Care UK, gave £21,000 to fund Andrew Lansley's personal office in November 2009. In a recent interview, a senior director of the firm said that 96 per cent of Care UK's business, which amounted to more than £400 million last year, came from the NHS. - Hedge fund boss John Nash is one of the major Conservative donors with close ties to the healthcare industry.
He and wife Caroline gave £203,500 to the party over the past five years.
The "hedgie" is also a founder of City firm Sovereign Capital, which runs a string of private healthcare firms. Fellow founder Ryan Robson is another major Tory donor who has given the party £252,429.45.

Andrew Lansley's wife, Sally Low, is founder and managing director of Low Associates ("We make the link between the public and private sectors"). A Daily Telegraph report in February records that the Low Associates website lists pharmaceuticals companies SmithKline Beecham, Unilever and P&G among its clients. It also records Ms Low's assertion that the company "does not work with any client who has interests in the health sector".

Circle the ambitious private healthcare firm run and owned by clinicians, has recruited a former aide to health secretary Andrew Lansley as head of communications. Christina Lineen spent two years working for Lansley, who became health secretary after the general election. The company's income is derived from private patients, either on insurance schemes or paying for themselves, but it also treats NHS patients.

Nick de Bois, Conservative MP for Enfield North - De Bois is the majority shareholder in Rapier Design Group, an events management company heavily involved with the private medical and pharmaceutical industries, and whose clients include leading names such as AstraZeneca. The company was established by the Tory MP in 1998. Last year it had a turnover of £13m. Last April, Rapier Design purchased Hampton Medical Conferences to "strengthen the company's position in the medical sector". It is involved in running conferences and other events for private-sector clients, and for NHS hospitals.

A number of the company's clients are "partners" of the National Association of Primary Care (NAPC), a lobby group supporting the health secretary's plans. Rapier Design Group's biggest clients stand to profit when the NHS is opened up to wider private-sector involvement. The GP commissioning consortium for south-west Kent, covering 49 GP practices and known as Salveo, has already signed a contract with the pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca aimed at improving diagnosis of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

George Freeman - His own business, which is a specialist adviser on Healthcare markets, Technology development, Business strategy & Venture financing, working with NHS trusts. Speaking in Parliament on 11 November 2010 during the Policy For Growth debate he said, "The third is the national health service. I know from my own experience that we are sitting on billions of pounds-worth of patient data. Let us think about how we can unlock the value of those data around the world."

Chris Skidmore, Conservative MP for Kingswood who sits on the Health Select Committee received a payment of £3,500 for 4 hours work - giving speeches to STAC Consultancy which specialises in the launch of pharmaceutical products, strategic branding and medical education.
Michael Fallon – Conservative MP for Sevenoaks – Director of Attendo AB since 2008 – a Swedish private health company offering care and social care. The register of interests show, he receives an annual fee of £13,954.88 net, for approximately 20hrs work. Bridgepoint the private equity firm which acquired Care UK, whose chairman John Nash bankrolled Andrew Lansley's office just prior to the takeover, has also invested in Attendo AB.

David Heathcoat-Amory - Former Conservative MP for Wells and a former Treasury minister, registered a payment of "£1,671.08 and health benefit to the value of £86.17" in July from Western Provident Association, which provides private medical insurance policies. The MP defended his work as a non-executive director for the firm, which pays him around £20,000 a year, saying: "The insight I receive from that helps me during health-related debates in Parliament and being part of the world of work and commerce helps me in scrutinising other parliamentary bills."

Stephen O'Brien Eddisbury MP - Conservative - Stephen O'Brien's office received three payments totalling £40,000 from Julian Schild. Mr Schild's family made £184million in 2006 by selling hospital bed-makers Huntleigh Technology. Mr O'Brien was moved to International Development after the election

Mark Simmonds, Conservative as a shadow health minister, accepted a trip to the United States to look at hospitals there from Bupa UK. Mr Simmonds missed out on a ministerial job in the government. Mark Simmonds, who was a minister when the controversial reforms were drawn up, is paid £50,000 a year to work just 10 hours a month as "strategic adviser" to Circle Health, the first firm to win control of an NHS hospital:

Simon Burns Conservative - Chelmsford MP - attended an oncology conference paid for by Aventis Pharma - a five-day trip to the US funded by a leading drug firm.

Jonathan Djanogly – Conservative MP - His office received payment of £1,900 on 01/11/2001 and declared it on 30/01/2002 from Huntleigh Healthcare Ltd, 310-312 Dallow Road, Luton. The company manufactures medical, orthopaedic equipment and instruments for measuring and is part of Huntleigh International Holdings Limited of the same address. They are a member of the Getinge Group, a Swedish based group of companies who are split between Healthcare and Life sciences. The acquisition of Huntleigh by Getinge took place in 2007.

Helen Whately - Former Conservative parliamentary candidate.
Has shrugged off any suggestion of a conflict of interest, after it emerged she works for the same consultants helping draw up plans which could see the A+E or maternity unit at Kingston Hospital removed. Her website states she works as a management consultant specialising in healthcare, mainly in the NHS but does not mention her employer McKinsey.

For those who do care about the NHS and want to add further to the unrelenting pressure on the coalition govt to drop the Bill here is a link to the excellent 38degrees website.

There will be a vote in parlaiment this Wedensday to attempt to force the government to publish its risk assessment report into the potential impact of the NHS "reforms". Just as the government doesn't seem willing or able to talk to anyone who opposes its Bill so it has consistently, and illegally, refused to let us all know the risks it has identified in implementing it.

You can use the link to select the MP of your choice and send them a message demanding the publication of the report. I'm sure Craig Whittaker would love to hear from his constituents on the issue - it takes two minutes.

Locally, Calderdale Save Our Services will be holding a film night on Wednesday at the Trades Club (7.30) which includes a film about the threat to the NHS from private healthcare lobbyists and a talk from a local GP on the Bill (see what's on section). Just two things you can do this week to help Kill the Bill.

From James Baker

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Allen's list is incomplete as it misses off all the Labour politicians with links to private health companies.

We should remember that between 1997-2010 Labour led the way in privatising care services by insisting that private companies provided 50% of all care services. Prof. Allyson Pollock's NHS PLC makes for an interesting read on Labour's track record of privatisation.

I suspect for all the gnashing of teeth by the Labour's grass-roots if the party was in power now it would have continued its own privatisation agenda.

Lord Carter: Labour - the head of the increasingly influential Competition and Co-operation Panel, is an adviser to Warburg Pincus International Ltd, a private equity firm with significant investments in the healthcare industry. Carter was the founder of Westminster Health Care, a leading private nursing home company. He is also the Chair of McKesson Information Solutions Ltd, which delivers IT to "virtually every NHS organisation", the chair of Primary Group Ltd, a Bermudan based private equity company, and a substantial shareholder in, among other companies, B-Plan Information Systems Ltd, which has also benefited from the increased need for large scale IT systems that the introduction of an internal market to the NHS has brought with it. Carter's register of interests in the House of Lords also lists him as an adviser to Warburg Pincus International Ltd, a private equity firm, which has significant investments in the healthcare industry. It even rescued United Healthcare from financial ruin in 1987 and helped it to become one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. He can now help it to become one of the biggest beneficiaries of the government's reforms.

Lord Darzi: Labour - Former surgeon drafted into government as a health minister by Gordon Brown when he was PM. Now an adviser to medical technology firm GE Healthcare.

Lord Evans of Watford: Labour - Director of healthcare property firm Care Capital.

Lord Filkin: Labour - Adviser to outsourcing giant Serco, heavily involved in NHS services.

Lord Harris of Haringey: Labour - Senior adviser to business services giant KPMG.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Labour - Self-employed "consultant on NHS and wider health issues".

Lord Hutton of Furness: Labour - Ex-health minister is an adviser to law firm Eversheds. Clients include care homes and private hospitals.

Lord Leitch: Labour - Bupa chairman.

Baroness Morgan of Huyton: Labour - Ex-director of failed care home firm Southern Cross.

Lord Puttnam: Labour - Director of Huntsworth communications group. Global public relations and integrated healthcare communications group. Did not stand for the board this year (2012).

Lord Warner: Labour - Former adviser to Apax Partners, one of the leading global investors in the healthcare sector. Current director of Sage Advice Ltd. Works as an adviser to Xansa, a technology firm, and Byotrol, an antimicrobial company, which both sell services or products to the NHS" and was "paid by DLA Piper, which advised ministers on the £12bn IT project for the NHS" projects that he was responsible for when he was a government minister.

Patricia Hewitt MP: Labour - is a former director of Andersen Consulting (now Accenture - which has gained from PFI contracts - Former Labour Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt has been an advisor to Cinven; took a consultancy with Alliance Boots seven months after standing down and a £55,000 role with Cinven, which bought 25 private hospitals from Bupa.

Alan Milburn MP: Labour - then Health Secretary for the Labour party, was a consultant for Alliance Medical's parent company. Alliance Medical runs diagnostic services for the NHS, including in Birmingham and Falkirk. UNISON reported that services were giving patients sub-optimal care, losing the NHS money because of below-capacity uptake, and pressurising hospitals into using private sector treatments

From Ian M

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Don't forget Cherie Blair, James!

She is a founder and board member of MEE, a company which aims to open private clinics in supermarkets!

From Nicholas Jones

Thursday, 23 February 2012

It was very useful of David Telford to point out that the United Kingdom finished 18th in the WHO ranking of healthcare systems, what he could have found out after a 5 second google search and 5 minutes analysis is that Britain is also ranked 26th overall on health spending per capita surely showing an impressive marshalling of overall NHS resources, incidentally the USA has the highest spend per capita and is ranked 37th between Costa Rica and Slovenia overall. If there were a possibility that Mr Telford could give the overall view of statistics he selectively quotes rather than half the story it would be much appreciated.

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 23 February 2012

James is correct - I didn't include the Labour suspects listed - not because I would wish to conceal or fail to condemn them but rather as my argument here is with those who support the Bill rather than oppose it and to expose the intentions of those in power.

That would be the Tories and your party James -which on this (and many other issues) must be very uncomfortable for you?

Will you be supporting motions to your conference proposing the scrapping of the competion element of the Bill or perhaps you agree with the vast majority of professional and public opinion that would like the Bill dropped altogether?

I'll leave it to grass roots Labour Party members to defend their party on the NHS. No doubt they will point out the advances of the NHS in recent years (patient satisfaction with the NHS for instance is at its highest ever from its lowest point when the Tories last lost power) and where opposed to what their government was doing.

Personally, I doubt whether a Labour plan for the NHS would have looked quite like what the coalition have lined up for us - but I would be fighting them just as hard if that was the case. Labour in power certainly, to their eternal shame, opened the door wide open for the privatisation proposals we have before us and made the job of those of us who are fighting to defend the NHS far more difficult.

From David Telford

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Thanks for the support Nicholas Jones, i like to help.

The post Susi made already pointed out the ineffciency and cost of a US system and the Bill doesn't suggest the US model is applicable here. Indeed, I alluded to the cost of the US system when pointing out that the success in the US is innovation of drugs and treatment, "albeit at a cost" - the bill doesn't attempt to find a way to match that which perhaps it should.

If I can be critical Nicholas, I think you've been a little selective in reading my contributions to this subject.

From Susi Harris

Friday, 24 February 2012

David - what cost are you talking about? the financial cost of the drugs and innovations, or the human cost of all the people who have no meaningful access to healthcare. There was a truly chilling Panorama (I think it was) on Poor America, people queued for miles to visit a charitable temporary roaming clinic set up by and English guy who was running a charity in Mexico when he though he could do more good in the US! We saw a guy fall out with his wife over the price of having his hip done (she thought it was worth it, he didn't, they were going to have to borrow the money and were already on subsistence only income. It was horrible to witness.

Extremely important letter in the Guardian today really brings home to me the true meaning of these reforms:

"As the government presses on with the Lansley bill, the experience of 4,700 patients in Camden Town in London confirms its critics' fears. In 2008, the Camden Road Practice was put out to tender by the PCT (now North Central London NHS) and, against loud opposition from patients, handed over to the for-profit company UnitedHealth, which undercut the popular bid from long-established local GPs. Turnover of doctors was rapid under UnitedHealth. And after three years, behind our backs, this company passed the practice to The Practice plc.

Last week, North Central London NHS announced that the surgery will close on 13 April 2012. The "consultation" letter that has been or will be sent to patients offers two options: to select an alternative practice ourselves or be allocated one by the local NHS.

As our experience illustrates, the current method of tendering NHS services is a gift to financially motivated companies who have no commitment to patients and can take or leave us without penalty. As has been said time and again, repeated promises to extend "patient choice" are empty rhetoric: patients have no say in the key decisions; in the name of choice, we are offered only Hobson's. If this is happening in Camden, it is presumably happening in other places. According to its website, The Practice plc works with a substantial number of PCTs around the country.

If we are to preserve the values and provisions of the NHS that matter to patients, management of "NHS" practices must be restored to NHS doctors and made accountable to public bodies, as we in Camden are demanding.
Shula Chiat and Maeve O'Connor
Camden Road Practice patients"


From Allen Keep

Friday, 24 February 2012

Here's another letter from the Guardian..
"Surely the government's credibility on the NHS is now completely exhausted. One by one, its arguments in favour of the health and social care bill have been exposed as spurious, whether based on the need to remedy alleged deficiencies in outcomes, efficiency or productivity, to reduce bureaucracy (their plans increase the tiers of management and create 11 new NHS organisations), or to empower frontline staff. It is becoming increasingly evident that the involvement of a small number of doctors and nurses in clinical commissioning groups is a convenient cover for the transfer of billions of public money to unaccountable commercial companies.

The final straw is the exclusion of the major bodies representing those very frontline staff from the summit of health practitioners called to look at implementing the bill. The government is clearly not listening to the views of the health professions. The time has come for mass public opposition, of which the Rally to Save Our NHS called by the TUC for 7 March should be just the start."
Dr Anthony Isaacs

Brilliant. I can't remember a revolt against government domestic policy with such a breadth of support since the Poll Tax. The Tories openly fear an "Arab Spring" in the NHS. They may just get one. We can Kill the Bill.
Following the very successful film night this week Calderdale SOS will be holding an event at the Trades Club on 7th march 6-7.30 to coincide with the TUC rally in London. Everyone is invited to come along and see the rally streamed live while making as much "noise" as possible on the internet about the Bill (bring a laptop if you have one). There will be Tibetan food and hopefully some music to help us along.

From Nicholas Jones

Friday, 24 February 2012

'The WHO ranks us 18th behind the likes of France, Italy, Austria etc. In terms health care delivery. Not bad but going back to my point, suggests someone is doing it better.'

If you feel I was being selective in my criticism allow me to point out in a concise manner why the data you selectively used was entirely irrelevant.

1) The source you use was from the WHO world health report published in 2000 using data from 1997 so you feel using 15 year old data supports your argument? If you prefer to use more up to date data, I could point out that in the latest annual British Social Attitudes Survey, satisfaction in the NHS was running at a record high.

2) You quote that France, Austria and Italy are ranked higher than the UK in healthcare delivery, I ask you to show me any proof that this is due to greater private sector involvement in their respective healthcare systems. I can tell you though that the countries you mention have an expenditure per capita ranking of 4th, 11th and 6th. What you selectively fail to mention is that the NHS still outperformed the countries like Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Canada, all of whom spent significantly more per capita on healthcare than we did at the time.

The data you used in backing up your (at best ill considered) point was wholly irrelevant I'm afraid, and frankly your contributions to this subject have come across as uninformed and contrary for the sake of it. Your complete dismissal of actual health professionals opinions shows a frankly staggering level of arrogance. Given how this bill is falling apart I wouldn't be surprised if by the end of the month Andrew Lansley comes out and criticizes it.

From Allen Keep

Friday, 2 March 2012

The pressure continues to grow on the coalition to ditch their blueprint for the privatisation of the NHS otherwise known as the Health and Social care Bill.

Today the BMA gave the Bill one its strongest drubbings yet in a letter to the country's GPs - for those interested you can read the full letter here.

38 degrees have launched a fund raising campaign to pay for billboards defending the NHS. They were initially looking to raise £80k and raised it in a few hours. The figure last time I looked (and chipped in) was £200k+ and there may now be billboards across the country (if enough people chip in we might even get one in Hebden! And you can do so here

I don't think anyone could describe either the BMA or 38 degrees as being particularly militant/left wing (apart from Lansley and no doubt a certain poster here) - it just shows the sheer scale of opposition to this nasty piece of legislation.

I am sure many of our locally elected politicians view this forum. James seems to have declined my invitation to explain his position on the NHS but as the local elections near I wonder who amongst them would be prepared to debate the future of the NHS publically? It's a national issue but one which directly affects every one of us in the valley.

Let's hear what you have to say.

p.s. don't forget the on-line rally at the Trades 6pm Wed 7th March.

From James Baker

Saturday, 3 March 2012

I'm happy to explain my position Allen. Just because I haven't immediately responded to something posted on HebWeb it doesn't entail I have declined a invitation to respond!

I support universal healthcare provision. As someone who has always lived on a fairly meagre wage and someone who has had their life saved by universal healthcare it is something I totally and utterly support.

However I am not wedded to a particular model of delivery, and I think people should have a right to choose how they would like their healthcare delivered. My experience of the NHS has often left me feeling like a cog in a large machine, rather than a human being that needed caring for. Universal health care could take the form of the German model of mandatory health insurance and a decentralized system. Essentially I support the general idea of of putting healthcare professional in control of budgets and allowing a range of sectors including both voluntary and private to provide services.

I also have big issues with the form of corporatist-state privatisation that Labour introduced. Large contractors and big companies profiteered by taking over roles like cleaning and building and maintaining hospitals under PFI schemes. It was also wrong of Brown to centrally impose upon local authorities that 50% of social care be provided by private companies.

Unaccountable bureaucracies with inept tendering skills waste countless amounts of tax payers money. As I highlight above several Labour politicians themselves had interests in the companies that benefited form this regime. We are now burdened with millions in debt to these ill thought out schemes.

It's ironic that you call on local politicians to get involved in healthcare debates. One key aspect of the Health and Social Care bill and Coalition policy is to enact a statutory obligation to create Health and Well-being Boards. These will bring together elected representatives and key commissioners to assess local health care needs and give people more control and say.

We should be debating what local people's healthcare needs are here in Calderdale, not setting up some Punch and Judy campaign for politicians to portray themselves as 'saving the NHS'.

From Allen Keep

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Feel free to respond at your lesiure James,or not at all but the question I asked, which you have avoided, is will you be supporting motions to your conference proposing the removal of competition element or are you taking the option of opposing the Bill in it's entirety. I still don't know, and neither does anyone who voted for you, whether you agree with the Bill, oppose it or would like it amended.

The medical professionals, their associations the unions the public and punch and judy are having their say now - and the opposition to the Bill, in it's entirety,is overwhelming and with very good cause.

The Bill is before us and can only go through with the support of your party. Where do you stand? (it will be a bit late to have a discussion in a health and well being forum although I feel mightily relieved and reassured that such bodies will exist when the NHS has been savaged).

Perhaps the local parties would like to debate the issues publically so we all know where they stand before the local elections?

From James Baker

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Do you really want local politicians do spend their time debating parliamentary bills and pretending they are MPs who can influence such things?

I rather think most people would rather we got on with trying to tackle speeding, dog mess or attending meetings about the local park.

It's clear what the Liberal Democrat Parliamentary party view is. They have been laying down amendments reforming the bill.

From Cllr Susan Press

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Just to say I was at the UNISON / TUC rally yesterday in Manchester where Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham MP pledged to repeal the Lansley Bill if and when there's a Labour Govt. But that of course could be years away . . . our priority has to be Killing this Bill- we have just three weeks.

Labour is leading the fight against the Bill in the Common and Lords but sadly the Lib Dems are now suporting Lansley - despite making face-saving noises. Nothing has fundamentally changed - this is the destruction of the NHS as we know it.

168,000 people have signed an e-petition calling on the Coalition to debate the issue in Parliament. Lib Dems and Tory MPs joined forces to reject that - despite the Conservative election pledge any issue getting over 100,000 e-signatures would be discussed in Parliament.

If the Lansley Bill goes through it will be because of the Tories ( what else would you expect) but also because of the collusion of Nick Clegg, Shirley Williams and Simon Hughes who have betrayed their activists - most of whom do not support this Bill.

Yes New Labour outsourced services and opened up some provision to private sector ( which it should not have done) but let's be clear - private patients in NHS hospitals are still currently two per cent of those treated.

Up to 49 per cent of NHS treatment could be privatised if this Bill is passed in three weeks' time.We will be back to the days of Hospital Saturday funds and people not being able to afford treatment .....

So people do deserve an answer from our local Lib Dem politicians. Do you or don't you support the resolution going to Lib dem Spring Conference to try and withdraw this Bill at 11th hour?

I'm happy to debate with anyone - like eveyone else in the Labour Party I do not support this Bill - or amending it in any form. It must be stopped. I urge everyone to keep on campaigning -

From Allen Keep

Sunday, 4 March 2012

James, surely Lib Dem local concilliors have some say/ influence over their national party position on issues especially in the run up to conference - otherwise your party wouldn't be very Democratic would it?

The NHS is a national issue but directly, on a day to day basis, affects every constituent in the valley.

Are you nervous about a public debate where your local party explains its atttiude to a Bill that wil have such an impact on local people? You are happy to let Local voters know that you are not one of those who find it unacceptable to force the unemployed to work and then not pay them and remind us that society does not owe anyone a living ( thanks), that those who take action to defend their pensions are selfish and you have made your views clear on the olympics which as far as I know will not be taking place in Calderdale.

Strangely, you are more reluctant to let us know where you stand on the issue of the Bill within your own party - do you support it or oppose it?

From David Telford

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Councillor Press, do you really think a party really needs to appease it's activists? Labour's most successful leader taught you that activists will support you anyway, it's the real people that count. The Lib Dem activists are not as anti-bill as you assume. What you are really trying to do (& it's been Labour's strategy every since they were booted out of government) is to whip up discourse amongst the far-left who may have voted Lib Dem as a protest against Labour, the Lib dems really don't need to care about these people.

The Bill is not as roundly opposed as you assume, the rally yesterday received dogs abuse from some passers by (I happened to be in Manc) but that is ignored. The Bill's aims are broadly supported by most people I come across, there need a few tweeks and guess what, if the Lib Dems can be seen to win those tweeks, guess who'll pick up the votes?

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 4 March 2012

I think we should all be careful what we wish for. I too want to see the Lansley bill fail, but for me the end of the NHS 'as we know it' can't come soon enough.

The biggest problem with the NHS, unaddressed after many years of Labour government, is the behaviour of the people who work in it. Far too often they put career ahead of care. It's worst when it comes to care of the elderly, but they're really not fussy whatever age you are.

Now that I'm knocking on a bit, my growing fear is not of becoming ill, but of becoming a hospital patient; because the way the NHS treats the elderly is scandalous. If they killed child patients by denying them food, hydration and basic care, there would be long prison sentences. Killing the elderly that way is seemingly much more acceptable. If Faustian pacts were a possibility, I'd willingly exchange a couple of years of life for a guarantee that I'd never have to go into hospital for anything.

There's a very good piece by Charles Moore that says it all better than I could. But even my own quite limited experience of Calderdale and Huddersfield hospitals has included:

  • The antenatal appointment for 1030 that actually meant 1330 - because every pregnant woman due to be seen that day appeared to have been given the same 1030 appointment. (No accident - the NHS always assumes you've got all day to waste.)
  • An elderly relative admitted after a fall. It took two weeks to discover her broken hip. In the meantime they 'treated' conditions that either didn't exist or weren't important.
  • A mother in agony a week after a caesarian. A succession of medics came in and asked her the same questions. None took notes. None did anything. None was seen again. It took a row, followed by an emergency operation, to relieve the pain and quite possibly save her life.
  • A small child crying in pain because nurses bandaged an injured arm too tightly. But they refused to accept that this was the cause of the pain. The child's mother had to insist on a doctor being called. He took an hour to turn up, then simply took out a pair of scissors and cut the bandage. No apology from the nurses. Instead, clear resentment that the mother had had the temerity to go over their heads.
  • Nurses routinely clustered round the ward desk, nowhere near patients. No one obviously in charge. Squalour where there ought to be scrupulous cleanliness. An old people's ward, of course.

There are some good things about the NHS, but they risk being eclipsed by aspects that stink of incompetence, indifference and sometimes downright callousness. Who is going to fix all that? Labour never did. For the time being only the coalition can. I hope they will, but it seems unlikely if they only want to reorganise the NHS from the top down. From the bottom up would benefit patients far more.

Let's forget hospitals for a moment and look at a couple of other aspects of the NHS.

In the Upper Valley we have three large, well-resourced health centres. None is open at the weekends or in the evenings. Why not? Presumably because doctors' choices matter more than patients' choices.

And we've just had Owen Williams, current Chief Executive of CMBC, appointed as chief executive of Calderdale & Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust. Hooray. A man with no NHS experience and a far from distinguished record in the post he's leaving. Is he really the best candidate they could find? Or - putting on my largest cynic's hat - was he perhaps given the job to avoid having to pay him a huge redundancy package?

So OK, let's kill the bill. But let's also be clear that its failure will be no cause for celebration.

From Allen Keep

Monday, 5 March 2012

I missed the rally in order to give out leaflets in Hebden advertising the on-line rally at the Trades on Wednesday and putting the case generally against the Bill. I received no abuse at all - but rather a lot of very supportive comments from people scared or angry about what is happening to the NHS - and not a single voice in support of the Bill.

I spoke at length to a lovely couple ( tourists from the North East as it happens). She is a physiotherapist who spoke passionately about the service she has worked for for 30 years and how it is changing, for the worse, before her eyes. Her husband was much more direct arguing that what was needed was for as many people as possible to take to the streets to defend the NHS. I asked him what he did for a living. He was a policeman.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

I'm still entirely unclear as to whether James supports the Bill or not. He reminds us instead of the LibDem parliamentary party position. Got it.
I am very interested however in what our local Lib Dem politicians' position is on the Bill is and I suspect many potential voters in the forthcoming elections are too.

James? Janet? Anyone? Do you support the Bill or do you oppose it?
Here's a Lib Dem who has made up his mind and has the bravery not only to speak it but then take an honourable decision - and I have taken the liberty of copying his letter to the Guardian in full.His name is Graham Winyard. Graham was a previous medical director of the NHS and a member of the Lib Dem Health Committee (I suspect he knows what he is talking about)

"I resigned from the Liberal Democrats this week because I have been arguing within the party for more than a year that it is just not sensible to impose top-down reorganisation on an NHS struggling with the biggest financial crisis in its history. For the leadership to press ahead in the face of such united opposition simply invites slow-motion disaster for the NHS and the party.

U-turns have advantages when the alternative is driving over a cliff. This is the basic choice faced by the government over its NHS reforms, a choice that has been obscured by the seemingly endless debate over the contents of the bill.

The NHS has to live on level funding for at least the next four years, using efficiency savings alone to finance the impacts of an ageing population and technological advance. This is the Nicholson challenge – the NHS has to find £20bn from within existing resources by being radically more efficient. It has never had to do anything this difficult in its entire history. To do this while its whole management structure is turned upside down has always been described as "extremely challenging" – management-speak for "impossible but we can't admit that to the boss".

This was ignored a year ago, and the predicted problems are now happening. The health select committee found that the reforms created "disruption and distraction", which hindered the development of "truly effective ways of reforming service delivery and releasing savings". What was not clear a year ago was the near-unanimous opposition to these reforms from staff and professional and patient groups. Organisational change cannot succeed without buy-in by those who will have to make the change work. The government has completely failed to secure this.

Scarily, the new structures will make it more, not less, difficult to achieve the radical reshaping of hospital services crucial to meeting the Nicholson challenge. The next phase of implementation will strip out virtually all strategic planning and commissioning capacity in the pursuit of more short-term savings. Fledgling clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), the newest kids on the managerial block, will be left to achieve unprecedented levels of service improvement in the face of a hostile workforce. This is irresponsible stewardship of a key public service.

It is not true that there are no alternatives; that it is too late to stop. The current interim structures of primary care trust clusters and slimmed-down regional offices could be stabilised, and experienced staff, who will be crucial to achieving financial targets, retained. Where CCGs are effective and enthusiastic they should be encouraged. No one has ever objected to clinicians driving commissioning, but radical strategic change needs more than this. Up to £1bn extra expenditure on the vast bureaucracy required by the bill's complexities could be avoided. And, most importantly, a consensus could be developed with NHS staff and the public about the change the NHS really needs, to face the difficult times ahead."

From James Baker

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Given all of the Lib Dem amendments I am now pretty relaxed about the Bill passing. Lib Dems do have democratic infulence over their conference unlike other political parties. I suspect some of our conference reps locally will support the amendment. If I was a rep myself I would listen to the debate at conference before making up my mind for certain.

Personally I think it's ludicrous to suggest a debate on the NHS when Calderdale is facing its own tough budget decisions. How about a debate on issues that Councillors actually have control over such as the proposed merger with Kirklees, the decision by Calderdale to have a 0% council tax rise, or Janet's plans to tackle youth unemployment here in Calderdale?

I know Labour will try and be winning votes by scaremongering about the destruction of the NHS and campaigning on a ticket of 'saving it' but they are the party that started to privatise it!

When in power Gordon Brown insisted that 50% of care services should come from the private sector. Council's like Calderdale had no choice but to follow this. It was Blair and Brown who started this ball rolling. Don't just take my word for it read Prof Allyson Pollock's NHS PLC or Michael Mandelstam's NHS Betrayed.

Thanks to Labour some trusts now have 10%-20% of their turnover going simply to pay off PFI deals. In total by 2049 £70BN will have been handed over to private companies in PFI deals.

From Ben Plumpton

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Great speech from Jo Brand at the Save Our NHS rally in London tonight, for example sharing her experience as a mental health nurse when cleaning was outsourced. Some splendid comments too, e.g. "I do have a soft spot for Nick Clegg, it's face down in a bowl of custard". Personally I think if the Lib Dems let this dreadful bill pass they will never be elected again. Anywhere.

For everyone who's concerned about the Health and Social Care Bill, the TUC's 'All Together for the NHS' campaign has some useful suggestions for ways to take action, see this page

In particular, please sign the 'Drop the Health Bill' e-petition.

and pass it on.



From Dave M

Thursday, 8 March 2012

So after making 4 separate contributions on the subject we finally find out that Cllr Baker supports the passage of this bill. Or does he?

I remember a time when local Liberal politicians made passionate statements of principle, not just mealy mouthed attempts to score cheap points over Labour. Pity.

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 8 March 2012

I appreciate that James is the only LibDem prepared to contribute to this discussion - but his complacancy and complicity is staggering.
He claims it would be useful to debate the health care needs of local people but that to debate the future of the NHS now would be "ludicrous" - does he not understand that the Bill, should it go through will have a fundamental impact on the health care of all local people?

James points out that Labour started the ball rolling. Correct, and therefore it's a bad thing - right? So why carry on the bad thing further? I doubt whether someone arrested for kicking a person to death in the street would have much of a defence by saying someone else started it.
And that, James, is what your (and it is your) governement is doing to the NHS.

And Jame's, you don't have to listen to the "romanticised" and "scaremongering" claims of a selfish left wing extremist like me, nor even "Punch and Judy" campaigns -just listen to the arguments and pleas of the most incredible range of health care professionals(from the bottom up), professional associations, medical colleges, patient's organisations and the public -even some CCGs(!!) - all now coalescing around a simple call - to drop the Bill and save the NHS.

David Owen has conceded that the Lord's have been completely unable to make any significant changes to the Bill -it remains as intended, a charter to privatise the NHS and end what you claim to hold dear - universal health care. It won't just be a postcode lotterty in the future -it will be a tax code lottery. The inequalities in health care provision will increase dramatically - and that in turn will have an hugely negative effect on the people of Calderdale will it not?

I'm appalled that you are "relaxed" about that.

I understand that there is little you can do directly to influence your party's decision this weekend (although a principled word in the ear of your reps wouldn't go amiss).

But what you (and everyone else) can do, you should do. A rebellion by the Lib Dems can stop the Bill before it is passed. The Lib Dems will be known and hated for the party that helped kill the NHS if this doesn't happen - and you will have the task, as Len McClusky so eloquently said, of explaining to your children and grandchildren why you did nothing about it. You will also, politically, be listening to tumbleweed for quite some time.

From James Baker

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Lib Dem conference has just voted 314-270 against supporting the bills 3rd reading. So there you go the grass roots of the party is on balance opposed. I suspect you will now be congratulating Liberal Democrat conference!

Personally I quite like some of what the bill is trying to do, for instance putting health care professionals in charge of spending resources. I'd much rather doctors were in control rather than bureaucrats. Other bits of it such as the increase provision for sharing confidential health information about patients I am quite opposed to. The bill is hugely complex with hundreds of clauses and there is a huge amount of scaremongering abound.

The issue I have with Labour's corporatist pseudo-privatisation is that it didn't introduce any real competition. It is competition within markets that helps drive costs down and standards up. Essentially Labour used PFI to indebt us to large companies for an instant capital injection. The public saw an immediate improvement in healthcare, but at the cost of a long term liability to make repayments that is now crippling the health services.

I said trying to get local politicians to debate a parliamentary issue is ludicrous because there is so much important stuff we need to focus on here in Calderdale. Most people I speak to care about things like dog poo, litter and sorting out local services. If you want to debate a parliamentary bill then I suggest you send out invites to our MPs, and maybe Lord Shutt of Greetland who has parliamentary understanding from the Lords about its process. Most local Councillors won't have the sort of detailed knowledge of the bill that will make the debate worth having, because their role is to focus on local issues not to act as pseudo-MPs.

PS Saying I will be forced to account actions to my grand children is laying it on a bit thick don't you think!

From Dave M

Monday, 12 March 2012

The Lib Dem conference voted 270 for a debate on dropping the bill and 246 for the so called Shirley Williams debate. So because of the AV system used the Shirley Williams debate was heard and delegates voted by a majority not to support the bill at third reading. However, the bill looks set to become law because that's what the leadership of the Lib Dems want. And this is the party that thinks it can teach others a thing or two about democracy.

Mr Clegg says that the necessary amendments have been secured but the party clearly doesn't believe him. The Lib Dems have emerged looking more indecisive than ever.

From Allen Keep

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

I will certainly congratulate those in your party who maintained decency and dignity and put the NHS before political expediency. The party as a whole has sold our health service to the barbarians of the free market.

As for your response;
Personally I quite like some of what the bill is trying to do, for instance putting health care professionals in charge of spending resources. I'd much rather doctors were in control rather than bureaucrats.

Have you read any of the arguments, many within your own party about how this is the opposite of what is about to happen?

The issue I have with Labour's corporatist pseudo-privatisation is that it didn't introduce any real competition. It is competition within markets that helps drive costs down and standards up.

You want more competition in the NHS??! - are you sure you are in the right party?

I said trying to get local politicians to debate a parliamentary issue is ludicrous because there is so much important stuff we need to focus on here in Calderdale. Most people I speak to care about things like dog poo, litter and sorting out local services. Maybe you should stick to the issues you know about then - unless you are prepared to debate them publically? Most local Councillors won't have the sort of detailed knowledge of the bill that will make the debate worth having. That would certainly be true in your case.

From Joe Ridley

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

In May 2007 Andy Burnham said:

"Now, the private sector puts its capacity into the NHS for the benefit of NHS patients, which I think most people in this country would celebrate"

I can't understand why he's not now supporting the changes.

From Cllr Susan Press

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Because what Burnham was talking about was a positive - offering private sector provision when the NHS could not meet waiting-list targets.
Two years ago, for example, my nephew had his wisdom teeth out in a BUPA hospital as his local hospital had no beds and he was in pain. He didn't pay a penny.

Three years ago, I was offered the choice of a medical procedure not provided by Calderdale at Bradford General because of Labour's concern over giving patients' choice. I didn't pay a penny.

The difference between New Labour's ideological shift (which actually I didn't back on basis all hospitals should offer decent medical provision) and what is happening now is simple. Private health provision in NHS hopsitals is currently two per cent. The Health and Social Care Bill will potentially open up hospital care to 49 per cent care for private patients. The rest of us will have to wait.

Already, procedures like hip replacements and cataract operations are being rationed. Already, the Tories are talking about charges for visits to the GP.

Whatever Burnham said five years ago, he has fought a steadfast fight with Labour colleagues to stop this legislation which has also been opposed by the vast majority of the medical profession. He calls it 'creeping privatisation' - in fact there is nothing creeping about this legislative monster which is about to destroy the services we hold dear. Thanks, of course, to the collusion of the Lib Dem MPs who ignored the millions who have told them they don't want it. No mandate. No principles

From Allen Keep

Thursday, 15 March 2012

I don't often agree with Harriet Harman but when she said the Lib Dems no longer stand for principle but only when the PM walks into the room she was spot on.

The price of the liars and cowards abandonment of our NHS to the free market - when they could still listen to the incredible and near universal opposition to the Bill and stop it - is becoming clearer by the day.
We learn that Devon NHS will be contracting out its core childrens services and that the likely winner of the competition on the grounds, note well, of the most economically sustainable bid will be Virgin Health (yes, that Virgin - I kid you not) or the giant SERCO (better known for running private prisons and,increasingly, private schools for children with special educational needs).

According to Mr Lansley the fact that a private for profit company could run these services is not privatisation because the patients won't pay directly but via taxation!!

There is still time for those who haven't done so to sign the 38 degrees petition (as nearly 600,000 people have done) At least it is an act on condemnation. Lord Owen will take the petition personally into the Lords on Monday.

From Joe Ridley

Friday, 16 March 2012

It seems that not only does Andy Burnham think it's a good idea for private interests to be involved in the NHS he employs people that have made their money doing just that. He now employs an advisor called Kevin Lee who was a director of a company called Vision 21. This company made £92,486 from the East of England SHA, and £77,000 from NHS Southwark on 'private projects'. Lee then 'loaned' Burnham £20,000 during his doomed attempt to become Labour leader.

Oh! And Ken Livingstone.

Kevin Lee still works for Andy Burnham as his senior advisor but isn't paid as a member of staff but through a private company, thus avoiding some of the income tax he should pay. In a similar way to 25% of the NHS civil servants.

It doesn't look like we're all singing from the same hymn sheet councillor Press.

From Dave M

Friday, 16 March 2012

It's true that right wing blogger (twice convicted of driving under the influence, former acid house party promoter and bankrupt) Paul Staines has made identical allegations about Mr Burnham to those made by Mr Ridley. (Although Mr Ridley does appear to have copied out some of the 'facts' incorrectly). However, I'm not sure why they are cited in support of the proposed changes to the health service.

It is possible to find pertinent and balanced commentary on the subject if Mr Ridley so wishes and I would respectfully direct him to the supplement with today's Guardian, giving the opinions of 100 people who actually work in health care, as evidence of this.

From Susi Harris

Sunday, 18 March 2012

For those who wish to understand the reforms a little better, this video of me explaining the way it will change, (with diagrams!) has just come out on YouTube.

From David Telford

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

When Thatcher came in the NHS was going to be dead in 5 years. Then it wasn't. Then with Major it was going to reduced to rubble. Then it wasn't. Now again it's going to disappear into the ether. It won't.

I'll have a £10 bet with Cllr Press, Allen Keep et al. At the end of this Government and its 2nd term, the NHS will remain free at the point of delivery in all critical areas, it will be funded and we will not see 49% of every hosital turned over to private patients.

Talk is cheap especially when it's without foundation.

From Ben Plumpton

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

If you oppose the Health and Social Care bill, now is your last chance to do something about it - the final debate in the House of Commons will be tomorrow (Tuesday 20th March)! Write to Craig Whittaker MP and ask him to a) support the vote to release the risk register (so at least MPs will know the risks of what they are agreeing to) and b) vote against the bill itself. I know it's a bit of a long shot, I've written to him before on various issues and all you get back is standard Tory guff. But if enough of us tell him that this issue is going to have a big effect on how we vote in future elections, it might make him think twice. His email address is craig.whittaker.mp@parliament.uk (from the Calderdale website)

Part of the reason why I just took this action is because I want to feel that at least I did something to try and stop it. Please Hebwebbers, help too!


From Cllr Susan Press

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

I just read on the BBC News website that Lib Dem and Tory Cabinet members banged the tables with glee ( a charming arcane tradition) when they heard the Health and Social Care Bill had made it through the Lords and paved the way for up to 49 per cent privatisation.

I want to applaud the efforts of surgeons, health workers, GPs, nurses, ancillary workers, trade union members, the 170,000 who signed the e-petition, 600,000 who signed the 38 Degrees petition.

Labour's Andy Burnham lerd a fantastic campaign against the Bill - emergency debate going on as I write - and there were principled Lib dems like Andrew George who held out to the end.

However, those in Parliament and the Lords who - despite having no mandate to do so - ignored the views of the overwhelming majority of the health profession and the general public on this issue are beneath contempt.

This is a rotten day for the NHS. But, as Nye Bevan said, the NHS will survive as long as there are enough of us left to fight for it.

From Allen Keep

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

"We're going to start with our number one priority. It was our number one priority four years ago when I became leader of the Conservative party – and has remained so ever since. It's only three letters long, but in it lies the hopes of millions in our country – the NHS"
David Cameron.