Health News Blog

Health News Blog

20th November 2017

MPs call for a debate on the future of the NHS
A cross party group of 90 MPs are urging the prime minister to allow a debate on the future of the NHS. If the primary focus of this debate is that we increase the NHS budget to the average for European countries, then this move honours the principles of the NHS, that it remains a comprehensive and free service. We should reject all ideas that the NHS is too expensive and its services should be limited - the NHS by international comparison is not expensive.

Patient died after 85 minute ambulance wait
Patient in Dorset dies owing to the long wait for an ambulance. 20 year old woman died of a ruptured spleen after the under-pressure control room downgraded the call.

Risk of european GPs quitting after brexit
GPs from the EU could leave the UK as a result of Brexit, a survey by the BMA suggests. Almost half of the EU  doctors in the survey are considering leaving. This contrasts with Jeremy Hunt's 'confidence' that EU workers will be allowed to remain, but it's the conditions attached to their stay that may be the deciding factor.

Hunt must consult on ACOs - but will he?
Allyson Pollock states that introducing US-style Accountable Care Organisations to run our NHS is such a contentious issue that it should be done through proper parliamentary procedure - inviting public and professional consultation - not by underhand amendments to regulations that he's proposing. There is little evidence, even in the US, that ACOs provide improvements in healthcare. The lack of appropriate consultation before ACOs are introduced is echoed by Sue Richards here.

13th November 2017

Even Simon Stevens is saying it now
The author of the Five Year Forward View (aka the Americanisation of the NHS) and head of NHS England has added his voice to the clamour demanding that the NHS receives a substantial increas in funding.

NHS needs £24 billion more than government plans
To avoid yet more rationing of services and even longer waiting times than we are currently experiencing the NHS needs £24 billion more than is planned by May's government, says 3 reputable expert groups. Annual rises in the NHS budget have been limited to 1% since 2010.

A&E long waits increase massively since 2010
Yet another statistic to add yet more proof that the NHS needs a large injection of funding.

Are ACOs legal?
Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) are being planned for the NHS. They involve a provider or an alliance of providers that collaborate to meet the needs of a defined population that takes responsibility for a budget to deliver a range of services to that population.  But they are being introduced with no legislative approval or oversight, so are they legal? Two groups are legally challenging their imposition.

Care home operator forced into debt by owners
One of UK’s biggest care home operators running 300 homes was made to borrow £220 million from a subsidiary of the private equity owners at 15% compound over 10 years. It is said to be “drowning in debt”.

Tories turn their back on the NHS market
The theory of the internal market in the NHS has it that there are purchasers of healthcare on the one hand (CCGs) and providers (trusts) on the other, and that providers e.g. hospitals, private health companies, compete to provide services. But the Tory 2017 manifesto appears to indicate it no longer supports the idea of competition within the NHS, not to be confused with the idea of privatising the NHS which is the aim of STPs, see ACOs above.

6th November 2017

Ambulance services: patients waiting an hour double
For the past two years the number of patients waiting an hour or more for transfer from an ambulance to an A&E ward has doubled.

Drug companies think only of their profits
Multinational drug corporations are planning to sue the NHS because its permitting cheaper drugs to be prescibed that might prevent blindness, a move that could save millions.

GP crisis not solved by privatisation
Such is the pressure that GPs are under, due mainly to increasing work load, that some are considering leaving the NHS, presumably a move that only those in affluent areas could consider. The Royal College of GPs warns that such a move is not the answer.

Surgeries run by private firms give poorer service
Increasingly health companies like Virgin Care and Care UK are running GP surgeries. Research by the Royal Society for Medicine shows that the patients' scores for those surgeries running under APMS (Alternative Provider Medical Services), in other words private companies and not the traditional partnership model of primary care which is GMS (General Medical Services), receive lower patient satisfaction ratings.

Confused about new models of care?
So am I, and I'm not reassured after reading this account of what NHS England is planning for our NHS, something that campaigners have described as the Americanisation of the NHS. Why do we copy ideas from the most expensive yet inefficient health systems in the world?

The latest developments to the Capita disaster
Demands for an enquiry are the latest event in the crisis surrounding the privatisation of primary care services to Capita, see 19th October below, that prompted the closing of a number of adminstrative centres around the country. Hundreds of doctors are out of pocket due to delays in Capita's processing.

2nd November 2017

Stevens criticises Hunt over pay
Hunt plans to permit NHS pay increases only by savings elsewhere in the NHS. Simon Stevens says Hunt has a duty to fund pay increases. We all know that so called 'productivity improvements' translate as staff cuts.

Plan to transfer NHS staff to subsidiary firm
Three trusts are planning to transfer staff to a subsidiary company and so take workers off the NHS terms and conditions and to drive down wages. Cleaners, porters and ancilliary staff would lose rights to NHS pensions, holiday and sick pay in what is clearly a move to save costs. Let's clear out people like this who run our NHS and replace them with decent leaders!

GPs refuse to collect data on immigration status
Some GPs are ignoring new laws to collect information on whether they are normally resident in the UK on the grounds that it could deny care to vulnerable patients.

GP workforce crisis continues
GP morale is at its lowest, the number of doctors employed by the NHS is falling, this despite plans to offer GPs a £20K incentive to work is areas with the greatest need. On top of this changes to pension rules mean that those over 50 are more likely to leave the profession. The Health Foundation report also highlights the increase in the number of managers employed by the NHS.

30th October 2017

New NHS fees for overseas patients
In trying to obscure the real reason for the crisis in our NHS, that it is underfunded, the government has obliged hospitals to charge for the healthcare that overseas visitors receive. This means that hospital staff will be burderned by having to ask all patients for their residence status, surely not just those with a foreign accent, informing then how much the treatment costs and of withholding treatment when unaffordable. Health professionals have accused the government of deliberate cruelty.

BMA: one million more to wait more than 4 hours
The doctors union has warned that without additional resourcing those patients waiting in A&E for more than 4 hours will, by 2019/20, increase by one million.

No end in sight for GP crisis
Jeremy Hunt certainly has his work cut out. In a speech in 2015 he promised there would be 5000 more GPs by 2020. In fact there are now 350 fewer.

26th October 2017

NHS patients to be placed in spare rooms
It's come to this, such is the shortage of beds in our deliberately underfunded NHS, that authorities in Essex are considering a plan to place patients recovering fromn surgery in people's houses. What further proof do we need that the NHS is in crisis?

Kings Fund's analysis of London's STPs
This report is packed with evidence that STPs are simply a means to cut spending, they spell the end of our health service as a comprehensive national service.

Report highlights the failings of private hospitals
The Centre for Public Interest and Public Interest has published a report, based on an extensive review of CQC inspection reports from 177 private hospitals in England. It provides evidence which identifies the characteristics of the private hospital business model that make it susceptible to exploitation by ill-meaning or incompetent surgeons, as in the Ian Paterson case.

23rd October 2017

Fear of a return to 1999 for waiting times
Hospital chiefs are concerned about the increasing NHS waiting times; they fear that patients are being let down. In contrast a government minister insists that NHS has enough money. I leave you to chose who you believe, hospital chief executives or a Tory politician.

From today hospitals must check patients immigration status
In direct contradiction to the NHS founding principles those without lawful UK residence will have to pay for hospital care. There's no conclusive evidence that the additional administrative expense is worth it, to say nothing of the stupidity of denying some patients proper healthcare. Anyway, I doubt whether health workers are going to implement this mean pernicious law.

Next Labour government must reinstate a public NHS
Professor Allyson Pollock analyses the detail of legislation required for a Labour administration to re-establish a proper publicly-run, accountable and comprehensive National Health Service.

19th October 2017

Another Capita privatisation disaster
How many privatised NHS service crises will it take before it's publically-acknowledged by mainstream media that privatising NHS services doesn't work? Yes it's Capita again, see 15th October below. A further 12000 items of unprocessed patient data have now been identified. Primary care support services were outsourced to Capita in 2015.

Brexit disguises the disaster unfolding in our NHS
Polly Toynbee explains that such is the dominance of Brexit to our news media that other serious issues go unnoticed, primary amongst them being the coming collapse of our health services. Another massive crisis that gets only limited coverage, is the indebtedness of a high proportion of the population, owing to low wages and high rents.

15th October 2017

NHS 5-Year Forward View – the end of the NHS
Read this chilling account of Simon Stevens' Five Year Forward View. It pulls no puches about the down-grading and rationing of healthcare that is the government's policy on the NHS.

GP to Hunt "Why should we believe you?"
Jeremy Hunt was forced to defend his record in office, as a GP in the audience at the RCGP conference told him "it [GP workload] has gotten worse on your watch, as we told you it would,’ she added. ‘I ask why should we believe what you are saying today when you weren’t listening then?’

Capita involvement raises concern
GP leaders have raised concerns over the involvement of outsourcing firm Capita in the development of an accountable care organisation (ACO). An ACO is a body that manages the agreements with health providing organisations to offer all health and social care for a given population. Nottinghamshire sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) has employed Capita to provide support for a £2.7m contract. This follows  constant complaints of Capita's privatised primary care support services.

Patients could be barred from A&E without a GP referral
NHS England is considering pilots to stop walk-in patients attending A&E departments, requiring them to be referred by a GP or NHS 111. It is an attempt to reduce demand that is threatening to engulf secondary care and emergency care services this winter. Of course they could always fund the NHS to the level of most developed countries.

12th October 2017

Winter crisis: Operations could be cancelled for months
Thousands of operations could be cancelled for months this winter, leading medics have warned, as the NHS prepares to announce plans to cope with mounting pressures. The Society for Acute Medicine raised fears that services could be “overwhelmed” by a bad flu season, accusing the Government of doing little more than “crossing fingers” that a crisis can be averted.

Scepticiism over Hunt's promise to lift paycap
The health secretary has announced that the cap on NHS staff pay is to finally be scrapped – but has not said if the government will give the health service extra funding to cover the cost of whatever rise is finally agreed.

One of the reason for increasing demand for healthcare
Record survival rates for heart attacks and strokes are heaping pressures on Accident & Emergency departments, a major study has found. The research, published as watchdogs warned that the NHS is “straining at the seams”, found that emergency admissions are being fuelled by increasing numbers surviving deadly conditions.

9th October 2017

The coming winter crisis for the NHS
The signs are on the wall as the NHS careers towards winter, desperation can be seen across the country. Since the summer, at least six hospital trusts and two ambulance services have been dealing with allegations of bullying. Two chief executives have been forced out for failing to hit the A&E target.

Exhaustion causes GPs fear for patient safety
“Shattered” GPs are lying awake at night worrying they may have harmed their patients by making mistakes caused by tiredness and overwork, the leader of the profession has revealed. Family doctors are losing sleep because they are so anxious that they have put patients’ safety at risk by missing a symptom or not keeping their medication up to date, said Prof Helen Stokes-Lampard. Read about this GP's workload.

Chanting NHS managers? Like finding your nan's sex toys
An article by a Surrey GP satirizes the news that NHS England executives insisted at a meeting of Trust managers they chant 'we can do it'. He continues "Just imagine if doctors applied the same methods. Chest pain? Forget the cath lab, let’s sit down and give your myocardium a stirring pep talk instead."

Hunt ridiculed for claiming the Tories set up the NHS
Jeremy Hunt has been ridiculed after making the “laughable” claim that the creation of the NHS was down to Tory support, despite the Conservatives voting against its passage over a dozen times in Parliament. He told delegates at the Tory conference in Manchester that the creation of Britain’s health service was down to a Conservative minister.

5th October 2017

One billion pound bill for urgent NHS hospital repairs
Hospitals are at growing risk of “catastrophic failure” because the bill for urgent repairs for problems that threaten staff and patient safety has soared to almost £1bn, an NHS report reveals. The statistics, compiled by NHS Digital, show that in England hospital buildings, operating theatres and scanners used to diagnose diseases are increasingly showing their age. The money needed to address the backlog has more than doubled from £458m in 2014-15 to last year’s £947.1m.

Another private patient transport company fails
A private ambulance service that has contracts with the NHS and other private health organisations faces closure after going into administration. Private Ambulance Service has been serving hospitals such as Watford General, St Albans hospital and Bedford hospital. The company’s collapse comes as data shows the NHS is spending almost £80 million a year hiring private ambulances £80m a year hiring private ambulances to answer 999 calls and take patients to hospital for appointments. In Sussex last year the private patient transport firm Coperforma was stripped of its contract owing to a string of failings.

Close surgery lists: a 'final recourse' to the crisis in primary care
The BMA has written to health secretary Jeremy Hunt warning that GPs would be willing to close their lists en masse unless the Government tackles the ’urgent challenges which have led us to this position’. GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey told the health secretary that the BMA is ‘deeply concerned’ that practices are reaching the point ’where closing their lists seems the only viable way to ensure patient safety’.

29th September 2017

NHS bosses forced to chant 'we can do this'
In their search for the most advanced managerial techniques to boost NHS efficiency, at a meeting NHS England has forced hospital bosses to chant “we can do this” in an effort to improve their accident and emergency performance in advance of what is predicted to be a tough winter for A&Es. Simon's clearly using what he learnt at United Health to full effect.

Labour calls for £500 million emergency finding
John Ashworth, the shadow health secretary, told the Labour party conference in Brighton that NHS patients suffered their worst winter on record in Theresa May’s first year as prime minister. He called for the government to commit a £500m “winter bailout fund” for the NHS over the coming months, citing party analysis suggesting 10,000 people a day will wait at least four hours for A&E treatment this winter.

PFI review could save NHS millions
Ex-BMA chief says John McDonnell’s pledge to review private finance initiative (PFI) contracts is a sensible idea that could save the NHS billions of pounds and is worthy of a proper review. The pledge, he said, is a step in the right direction to reform a deeply flawed, unpopular programme.

25th September 2017

Slashing the NHS budget: the real reason for STP
Under the government plans called the 'capped expenditure programme' 13 areas are being forced to cut even harder than that demanded by Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP), which itself is a total of £22 billion by four years time. Some areas will lose vital health services, and South Gloucestershire is one. Cancer diagnostics, neurological rehabilitation and children’s continuing care policy for those with complex needs arising from disability, accident or illness, are listed for proposed savings by the South Gloucestershire CCG.

Government's empty promises on mental health
The Government has been accused of “empty promises” over boosting mental health provision. Cash-strapped Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) in England said they will reduce the proportion of their budgets spent on offering mental health support in 2017/18, despite previous commitments from Jeremy Hunt that spending would increase.

Labour will bring PFI contracts 'in house'
Without spelling out exactly how or explaining the financing details, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would bring PFI contracts, and the workers they employ, back under the control of the state. Lots of the government's PFI contracts are for hospital builds, others are for roads and schools.

18th September 2017

Hospitals will struggle to cope with a serious flu outbreak
Full hospitals mean the NHS is facing “a winter of woe”, leading doctors have warned, after official figures showed the service struggling to cope with the growing demand for care. A total of 181,692 bed days were lost in hospitals in England in July to “delayed transfers of care”, when patients are fit to leave but cannot be safely discharged.

Why is there is shortage of GPs?
Yet again the earnings of GPs working as partners or in salaried roles earned showed a 'statistically significant' drop, The figure for median income for partners and salaried GPs combined fell further - dropping 1.9%. The figures also highlight the collapse in real-terms GP income over the past decade. In cash terms, GPs earned on average 23.4% below the level it was at in real terms ten years ago.

Report shows NHS is leaking huge sums to private companies over PFI
The NHS is "leaking" money to private companies in contracts to build and run hospitals, a report says. Under the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), companies provide money for new hospitals and then charge annual fees. The Centre for Health and the Public Interest (CHPI) publication, based on 107 PFI contracts in England, said such companies had made pre-tax profits of £831m in the past six years.

Just 2 doctors to look after 436 patients
Two junior doctors at a UK hospital were left to look after 436 patients during just one night shift, it is claimed in a shocking new report. Another medic was allegedly so busy they didn't have a single break over an entire weekend with only "a couple of biscuits" to keep them going. The true pressures on junior doctors at Derriford Hospital in Plymouth have been revealed in the report, with serious safety concerns being raised.

13th September 2017

Spire Health pays £27 million compensation due to disgraced surgeon
Around 750 private patients treated by disgraced breast surgeon Ian Paterson will receive compensation from a new £37 million fund. Spire Healthcare, which runs private hospitals across the UK, will contribute £27.2 million to the fund, which is intended to halt legal proceedings by patients.

GP industrial action - majority of practices vote for list closure
Practices have voted in favour of co-ordinated list closure action in an indicative ballot by the BMA. GP leaders called on the government to take urgent action to address the crisis in the service after practices voted in favour of action. Practices were asked to say whether they would be prepared collectively to temporarily suspend new patient registrations and/or apply to their commissioner for a formal list closure, as a form of industrial action.

American-style health company to run NHS services in West Midlands
One of the untried and untested plans to be introduced under STP is multispecialty community provider. Under an MCP, GPs practices come together in networks or federations and collaborate with other health and social care professionals to provide more integrated services outside of hospitals. The Dudley MCP will be a private company and the GP practices involved want a controlling share in its ownership.

28th August 2017

NHS England is hiding its planned cuts
The crowdfunded campaign group 38 Degrees submitted freedom of information requests to the government, NHS leaders as well as trusts and clinical commissioning groups in the 13 areas affected but all except two refused to release details of planned changes. Leaked proposals from three of the areas have already revealed plans including downgrading or closing A&Es and extending waiting times for operations.

Stephen Hawking on Tories destruction of the NHS
Stephen Hawking demonstrates his critique of Tory policy on the NHS, especially STP, in his article which continues the war of words he is having with Jeremy Hunt. Hunt can't let it go, he has to have the last, if ineffective, word. Here's a satirical view on the spat between them.

NHS waiting times worst since 2007
The number of NHS patients waiting for treatment has hit its highest level in a decade, health bosses have warned, after the latest figures for NHS England showed the service continues to miss its waiting times targets. The NHS in England last met its target for A&E waiting times two years ago.

The conspiracy to destroy the NHS
Dr Youssef El-Gingihy takes a blogger to task that the conspiracy to destroy the NHS is not 'fake news'; he asserts  there exists a hidden agenda to destroy the partnership model of GP working and to sell GPs off as salaried slaves to super-partnerships.

21st August 2017

Private hospitals get tax breaks, NHS ones gets tax hikes
Private hospitals are enjoying a £52m tax break on their business rates bill through their charitable status while NHS hospitals are facing crippling hikes. The tax perk will save private hospitals in England and Wales £51.9m in business rates over the next five years, whereas changes to the business rates system that came into effect in April mean that NHS hospitals in England and Wales will see their annual rates soar by 21 per cent over the next five years.

Massive private bid for NHS property - PFI by another name?
Primary Health Properties, Octopus Healthcare and Assura (aka Virgin) say they are ready to offer £3.3bn upfront capital funding in response to recommendations set out in Sir Robert’s review of NHS estates. They say the money could fund up to 750 new primary care centres, which would cost the NHS up to £200m a year in new rental charges.

Stephen Hawkin blames Tory politicians for damaging the NHS
Stephen Hawkin has accused ministers of damaging the NHS, blaming the Conservatives in a passionate and sustained attack for slashing funding, weakening the health service though privatisation, demoralising staff by curbing pay and cutting social care support. Of course Hunt denies it. The argument is about the so-called 'weekend effect'; the evidence is here.

New Birmingham integrated primary and community care contract
Dudley CCG has revealed its preferred bidder for the £5bn 15-year new care model contract; a consortium of four NHS trusts and 38 local GP practices. The contract will combine primary and community-based physical health for adults and children, some outpatient services, primary medical services, local enhanced services, mental health services, public health, learning disabilities services, urgent care centres and GP out-of-hours care. Adult social care services will also be phased in. Has it been piloted, is it privatisation by another name, is it government washing its hands of responsibility for healthcare?

CCG cooperation to go-ahead despite GP 'no confidence'
Six CCGs will share the same accountable officer, the primary role in delivering heralthcare care in their areas. So once again untested and unwelcome reforms are pushed ahead despite professional misgivings. The readers' comments at the end are worth a read.

14th August 2017

ACS - a backdoor privatisation?
Accountable Care Systems are a US-style health organisation with little evidence that they work or without any pilot to prove their effectiveness. But what they definitely will do is to limit health spending. A budget is handed over to an area and that's it, no deficits are allowed. Few outside the service understand them, sceptics doubt they will work, and some even see them as a Trojan horse for the ultimate privatisation of the NHS.

Even in summer hospitals are missing targets
Normally A&Es make their targets after the winter rush, but no longer. NHS leaders have warned the health service is at breaking point, as official data showed A&E waiting time targets for England have been missed every month for two years.

Ambulance call-outs for mental health soar by 23%
Mental health services have been cut and the consequence is that ambulance service call-outs and hospital admissions increase.

28th July 2017

Demand for enquiry into privatisation of NHS recruiter
Labour is demanding an inquiry into the privatisation of a government-owned NHS recruitment firm that saves hospitals £70m a year. NHS Professionals helps the health service in England tackle its staffing crisis by arranging for doctors and nurses on its books to cover potentially harmful gaps in rotas.

NHS accused of secrecy over £500 million cuts
Doctors’ leaders have accused NHS bosses of shrouding controversial plans for £500m of cuts to services across England in “totally unacceptable secrecy”. Patients deserve to know how hospitals being told to “think the unthinkable” as part of the savings drive will affect their access to healthcare, the British Medical Association (BMA) said. The local bodies which hold the NHS budget in England in 13 areas were told to make an extra £500m of savings by the end of March 2018 over and above those already planned.

Current GP model being ground down by government
Income for general practice is falling in real terms year-on-year, while the costs of running a practice are spiralling out of control. GPs have to pay for medical indemnity insurance which is rising by as much as 25% per year, they are now forced to undergo annual appraisal and five-yearly relicensing and are expected to undertake 50 hours of educational activity per year, in addition to undertaking patient satisfaction surveys and audits. Surgeries have to pay thousands of pounds to undergo regular inspections by the Care Quality Commission. "The aim of these measures can only be to grind down the current model of general practice until it fails and large private providers can be brought in."

24th July 2017

Double the number of A&E consultants for safe care
Hospitals are being urged to urgently more than double the number of consultants on duty in A&E units in order to ensure that patients receive safe care. The increase is needed to help the NHS avoid the winter crisis that occurred last winter and to stop A&E doctors quitting due to burnout, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) claims. Or is the government content with an NHS in crisis?

One in ten GP practices closed or merged since April 2013
Almost one in 10 GP practices have closed, merged or been taken over since the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act and NHS England became operational in April 2013, with small, underfunded practices hit hardest.

U turn saves Southend A&E department
The Save Southend A&E campaign group has fought plans to turn Basildon A&E into a specialist emergency centre while downgrading Southend and Broomfield A&Es to take less serious cases.

NHS prescription of homeopathic remedies ends
Homeopathic remedies will no longer be available on prescription on the NHS according to newly-announced plans. The move comes as part of the NHS England’s drive to save more than £190m a year through a new set of national guidelines, which are now open for public consultation.

Labour's approach to child care
Against a background of cuts to child health and education services, and with a suitable scepticism of opposition promises, here's Labour's shadow health secretary's speech to Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

17th July 2017

Surrey and Sussex NHS plans to deny vital heart surgery
Patients at risk of a heart attack could be denied vital tests and potentially life-saving operations under NHS plans to make £55m of budget cuts in Surrey and Sussex. NHS organisations in Surrey and Sussex are considering restricting the number of patients who have an angiogram or an angioplasty – the insertion of stents to tackle blocked arteries – despite the evidence that both procedures reduce the risk of patients dying.

£85 million cuts in public health is a 'national scandal'
Analysis by the King's Fund, based on data from the Department of Communities and Local Government, shows that spending on public health will be more than 5% lower in 2017/18 than it was in 2013/14. The £85m reduction in spending comes on top of cuts worth £200m made to public health in 2015/16. Funding for sexual health services has dropped 10% over the last four years.

Government plans to remove the right of opt out from data sharing
Under plans to simplify patients' rights to opt out of sharing data held in medical records, the government has set out proposals to scrap the 'type 1 opt-out' - which currently allows patients to insist that no identifiable data should be shared outside their GP practice for purposes beyond their direct care. It is to be replaced by a new opt out, but not where there is a mandatory legal requirement, an overriding public interest or other exceptional cases.

NHS still number 1 despite Tory underfunding
The UK health service was praised for its safety, affordability and efficiency, but fared less well on outcomes such as preventing early death and cancer survival. The research by the Commonwealth Fund, a US think tank, looked at countries across the world, including the US, Canada, Australia, France and Germany. The US came bottom.

13th July 2017

STP's financial straight jacket will ration NHS services
Accountable Care Systems (ACS) *...should be working towards a single financial control total this year but the change would “inevitably be bumpy in terms of its impact..." In other words expect massive cuts in services because the government is cutting the NHS budget, and deficits will not be allowed under new NHS England rules.

BMA balloting GPs for industrial action
Practices have been sent details of an indicative vote asking whether they are prepared to participate in a collective closure of practice lists in response to the failure of NHS England’s GP Forward View to deliver resources to sustain the service.

£85 million cuts to public health services
Funding for public health services including smoking cessation, sexual health and alcohol and drug clinics will be slashed by £85 million in 2017/18, analysis has revealed. Stop smoking services will be cut by £16 million by councils across England, a 15% reduction year on year, according to the report from the King's Fund.

Doctors 'seriously concerned' about government data sharing plans
The BMA said that the DH plans to relaunch its NHS data-sharing scheme were of 'serious concern', because patients will not be able to opt out of having their data sent from their GP practice to NHS Digital.

10th July 2017

More poor service from Capita
Dozens of GPs are meeting a debt collection agency in a last-ditch bid to claim standard NHS payments owed to them by the primary care support service run by private provider Capita. Primary care support that handles patient record transfers and some GP payments was privatised to Capita in 2015. There has been an ongoing series of revelations about the poor service Capita provides.

Why the GP shortage...salaries have dropped by 22% in decade
Doctors’ salaries have declined by 22% in the decade between 2005 and 2015, according to new Government research. This comes one month after Jeremy Hunt accepted a recommendation for doctors to get a 1% pay rise in 2017/18.

Why leaving nursing... morale is at its lowest
More nurses are leaving than joining for the first time on record. One nurse tells us why. 'Morale is the worst I have experienced in my 30-plus year career to date' says one.

Hospital broke law by giving patient data to Google
A highly anticipated ruling found that the Royal Free London NHS Trust broke the law when it gifted 1.6m patient-identifiable records to Google's Deep Mind, in November 2015. The information Commissioner said "The price of innovation didn’t need to be the erosion of legally ensured fundamental privacy rights.”

23rd June 2017

Leaked document shows 'devastating cuts' to London NHS
Patients will be denied treatment, waiting times for operations will lengthen and A&E and maternity units may be shut under secret NHS plans to impose unprecedented cuts to health spending in London. Doctors in five London boroughs will have to spend less on drugs, fewer patients will be referred to hospital and support for people with severe health needs will be cut as part of the plan.

Number of GP practices drops by 650 in 4 years
The number of GP practices in England has dropped by more than 650 in the four years since NHS England was founded, while average list sizes have risen by around 900 patients, official data suggest.

BMA to debate whether NHS crisis was 'deliberately created'
The BMA is set to debate whether the crisis in the NHS has been created deliberately by the government to justify a transformation and privatisation agenda. Well look no further than Tory policy chief Oliver Letwin who wrote about running down public services to justify privatisation.

19th June 2017

STP plans to sell of Charing Cross hospital
Almost all of Charing Cross hospital is to be sold and its services diverted to already stretched facilities around the capital under plans for NHS "modernisation". The plan is to axe 10 major services at Charing Cross, the remaining services would be a series of outpatient and GP clinics, X-ray and CT scans, a pharmacy and an urgent care centre for “minor injuries and illnesses”. Around 300 acute beds will be lost. North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “We are still committed to taking forward changes as agreed by the secretary of state in 2013."

GP opponent replies to Hunt's accusation of lying
Dr Louise Irvine, a British Medical Association Council member, has penned an open letter to Hunt, who was reappointed by Theresa May to Secretary of State for Health. The letter concisely refutes Jeremy Hunt, laying bare the dangerous erosion of our health system under his tenure.

Tory MP blames GPs for lack of GPs
Junior health minister Jackie Doyle-Price, MP for Thurrock, says on her website that there a lack of GPs in her Thurrock constituency "...because GP practices aren’t delivering enough to meet local demand." Whereas the chair of the GPs committee at the BMA said "...general practice remained 'billions of pounds' short of the funding required to tackle soaring pressure on GPs".

200 GPs to staff A&Es, but where from?
Hospitals could hire more than 200 GPs to work in A&E departments in the next 12 months under plans to put primary care doctors 'on the front door' at every emergency department in the country. There's a national shortage of GPs so where will they come from?

15th June 2017

Government plans fire sale of NHS land and property
The government is poised to agree several major deals with private firms to unlock capital funds worth £5.7bn by selling NHS land and property. In response to the Naylor report six regional public/private partnerships will be created under the plan to dispose of what the government claims are "assets that are no longer required or not fit for purpose."

GP leaders urge Hunt to rethink spending plans
GP leaders have called on Jeremy Hunt to radically review the government's NHS spending plans after he was re-appointed as health secretary following last week's general election. By 2022/23 Tories health spending plans fall as a share of GDP to 7.0% compared with 7.3% today and 6.9% on current spending plans; one of the lowest GDP percentages in Europe.

Commissioners raise concerns about private OOH provider
Private out-of-hours provider Integrated Care 24 has defended its record after West Kent CCG raised concerns over its shift fill rates and missing compliance data at its A&E GP services. It said fill rates for IC24’s A&E GP services at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells. It found that Maidstone had seen 15% unfilled by a GP, while Tunbridge Wells 18% unfilled.

12th June 2017

Even more NHS cuts, but will they go ahead now?
This article in the Health News Journal was published before the election but isn't it reasonable to assume that NHS leaders thought a Conservative majority was guaranteed? The controversial measures were being discussed privately by national NHS England and NHS Improvement officials, with senior local NHS leaders, as part of the new “capped expenditure process", otherwise known as STP.

Tories are planning a fire sale of NHS assets
Theresa May has vowed to implement the Naylor proposals, which advise the government to sell off NHS assets in order to bring the health service in line with budget plans. It could potentially mean £5.7bn worth of NHS assets are sold off. But again, has the election halted these plans?

Now even the two week cancer target is missed
Growing numbers of hospitals are forcing cancer patients to wait longer than they should for vital NHS treatment, official figures show. In April the NHS failed to meet three key targets that set out the maximum length of time patients should wait before receiving treatment.

NHA gets 11.5% swing against Hunt
The National Health Action party candidate came in second place with 20% of the vote, taking more than 12,000 votes in the South West Surrey election on Thursday. The vote saw a massive 11.5% swing to the doctor-led NHA party which opposes NHS cuts and privatisation.

8th June 2017

Thousands of children's operations cancelled each year
Thousands of operations on children are being cancelled each year, often because NHS hospitals do not have enough beds, staff or equipment. The real number of cancellations is likely to be much higher as the figures obtained under freedom of information laws cover barely half of England’s 153 acute hospital trusts.

Privatisation means NHS is now simply a logo
Professor Alex Scott-Samuel explains how the destruction of the publicly-provided NHS was made law in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. Although this act enables complete NHS privatisation, its widespread failure, for example here, and unpopularity mean that it remains partially implemented.

Tory plans to sell off NHS property
The Naylor Review recommends selling around £2billion of NHS land to build 26,000 homes. This could hit £5billion if extended to "high-value" sites in London. This could equal 5 million square metres of NHS estate - more than three times the size of London's Hyde Park. Ideas in the report include selling part of car parks and making the other part multi-storey.

5th June 2017

Party election manifestos compared
With the general election manifestos published, here's a useful summary of what the three main parties in England are promising for health.

Public concern about NHS hits a 15 year high
Polling by Ipsos Mori found that 61% of people in Britain consider the NHS to be among the biggest issues facing the country, up 13% from last month. The finding suggests public concern about the NHS is at its highest level since then-chancellor Gordon Brown announced a £40bn NHS investment plan in 2002.

Cancer patient dies due to bed shortage
A cancer patient died after he was denied an urgently needed transfer to another hospital because no bed was available, a coroner has said. Michael Brennan was diagnosed with lung cancer at Whittington hospital, north London, and given a plan to be treated at another hospital if his condition deteriorated overnight. But when the 80-year-old needed emergency surgery, Westmoreland Street hospital in central London was unable to find him a bed.

Private sector profiting as NHS crumbles
Conservative austerity programme will continue, despite lengthening waiting lists, greater rationing and mounting concern over how the NHS will get through the winter. Major healthcare companies are seeing profits more than double, uniformly citing the pressures on the NHS as the driver for increased activity. Private hospitals are capitalising on the underfunding of the NHS by expanding their services, focusing on areas subject to rationing such as cataract treatment and hernia repair.

29th May 2017

May accused of failing to tackle the NHS crisis
Teresa May has been accused of failing to tackle the growing crisis in the NHS and social care, with a “smoke and mirrors” manifesto that has left future funding in doubt. Experts and campaign groups turned their fire on the Prime Minister as her promise to “get to grips with the great challenges of our time” if she returns to Downing Street drew scorn.

Nurses vote to take strike action
Nurses have voted overwhelmingly to pursue a ballot for UK-wide strike action this summer in protest at below inflation pay rises. Nearly four out of five members (78%) of the Royal College of Nursing who took part in the consultative vote backed a walkout, while 91% favoured industrial action short of a strike.

NHS trusts overspend by £770 million, NHS clearly underfunded
The £770m overspend has emerged from analysis of the trusts’ own official figures showing their financial performance in 2016-17. This has sparked a fresh debate about whether the government is giving the NHS enough money to do its job properly. Ther figures have been “flattered” by trusts receiving £1.8bn of bailout funding during 2016-17 and so the true deficit was around £2.5bn.

A third of NHS children's mental health services face cuts or closure
A third of children’s mental health workers say their service is facing cuts or closure, a new survey has revealed. Research carried out by four major medical organisations highlighted the “extremely concerning” state of mental health services for children and young people.

15th May 2017

Hunt ignored warnings of cyber attacks on NHS
Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary was accused of ignoring "extensive warning signs" before an unprecedented cyber attack which plunged the NHS into chaos. The Government ended its annual £5.5 million deal with Microsoft to provide ongoing security support for Windows XP in May 2015, unless individual trusts - already struggling with budgets - were prepared to pay extra for an extended support deal.

Do you know anything about ther NHS?
Here's a brilliant visual essay about the NHS. If you want to know for instance, why the NHS is in crisis, here's the reason. If you want to know how many contracts for the NHS have gone to private companies then it's here.

BMA hit out at public health funding cuts
Politicians have been 'slow and weak' on tackling obesity, smoking and binge drinking, the BMA has warned as it hit out at funding cuts that will strip £400m from public health by 2020/21.

Children's social care services 'at breaking point"
Spending on children’s services has fallen by 9% since 2010 as numbers of children in need have risen by 5%. Councils have warned that social care services for vulnerable children are approaching breaking point in the face of funding shortfalls estimated to reach £2bn by the end of the decade.

General practice unable to support STP
Urgent investment in general practice to reverse 'damage done by years of underinvestment' is crucial to lay the ground for sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) being rolled out across England, primary care experts have warned.

10th May 2017

GP Louise Irving set to challenge Hunt
GP campaigner Dr Louise Irvine has been backed by members of four political parties to run for election against health secretary Jeremy Hunt in the general election. She came fourth in 2015 in his South-West Surrey constituency and will again challenge him on the government’s record on the NHS.

Think you know about the NHS?
Here's a brilliant film that summarises the facts on funding of the NHS, especially since 2010. Please pass on the link to anybody who doesn't know - and there's a lot - how underfunded the NHS is and is going to be increasingly over the next few years.

Don't believe the hype about ACOs
As part of government plans for the NHS Accountable Care Organisations (ACOs) springing up across England could put the NHS at risk, writes London GP Dr Brian Fisher. He saya 'ACOs don't seem to be accountable to patients and they don’t seem to offer better care.' ACOs also could open the door for privatisation. Large groups are more appealing than lots of small organisations.

Hospital waiting lists will rise above 5 million
The number of people in England forced to wait more than 18 weeks for a non-urgent operation could more than double as a result of the NHS’s decision to relax the obligation on hospitals to treat 92% of them in that time, a leaked document has revealed.

4th May 2017

Labour promises to halt STPs
Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said his first job in government would be to launch an independent review of every single STP and to halt service closures.

Want to put a poster in your window?
Try Health Campaigns Together site. The poster doesn't specify exactly who to vote for, just advises who not to vote for.

NHS England chief GP: new care models are 'vanity project'
GP and NHS England London clinical director of emergency care Dr Tom Coffey said he was ‘not a fan’ of new care models and that vanguards or multispecialty community provider (MCP) schemes made him ‘lose the will’. He said 'Politicians love a legacy.. so they come to power and say, what can I do, what can I change?'

Care home residents charged even after they die
Care homes are charging families for weeks after the death of an elderly relative in some instances, prompting a string of complaints to the competition watchdog that is investigating the sector.

BMA: NHS must not be marginalised in election
The NHS crisis must not be marginalised by Brexit in the June general election called by prime minister Theresa May, BMA leaders have warned. Meanwhile, there surely were astonished MPs to hear Teresa May say she is proud of the government's record on the NHS ... think I know what she's really meaning.

17th April 2017

Worst ever wait time for A&Es
You won't be surprised to hear that this winter was the worst ever for A&Es not meeting their 4 hour wait target. Figures from the health service showed a near five-fold increase in the number of A&E patients suffering admission delays over the past five years.

Biggest NHS sell-off exhibition
If anyone is in any doubt as to the sheer scale of the privatisation of our NHS, look no further than the Health+Care Conference announced for June. The objective of the expo conference is to accelerate 'Transformation' of the NHS by introducing delegates to hundreds of private healthcare sector companies along with other STP leads. Speakers include Labour's shadow health secretary John Ashworth MP and Libdem Norman Lamb MP.

Manchester GPs agree to form an MCP
All 90 practices in the city, through their federation, are seeking partners for a joint bid for a ten-year contract. What is an MCP? It's a multispeciality community provider and it's likely to include not only the health services usually provided by your GP but also extra services that normally are provided on a community and even hospital basis. It's another way for the government to control, and limit, health funding but not take the responsibility for our health services. Can't you just hear Jeremy saying now about another care scandal "I provide all this money but they fall down on the job. I'll set up an enquiry" can't you?

13th April 2017

'Enormous crisis' as numbers of GPs are planning to quit
GP leaders have warned of an 'enormous crisis' after 40% of GPs in south west England said they would quit in the next five years. Researchers from Exeter University also found that 70% of GPs in the region intend to reduce their patient contact time. More than half of GPs surveyed reported low morale, with this group particularly likely to say they intend leaving the profession.

Number waiting longer than 18 weeks set to double
The number of patients waiting longer than 18 weeks for surgery is set to double in the next three years, the health service has been warned. The new analysis, based on official NHS figures suggests the total number waiting for operations will reach almost 5 million in 2020 - an increase of almost 2 million since 2015.

NHS charging protest: check point at DoH office
Campaigners from Docsnotcops blocked the entrance to the Department of Health with a makeshift immigration checkpoint, manned by NHS patients and staff protesting plans to introduce upfront charging for care throughout the NHS.

Large private GP providers favoured over traditional GP contracts
Only temporary contracts, known as Alternative Provider Medical Services (APMS) have been awarded in new GP practice procurements in London since the new Health and Social Care Act was introduced in 2013, These contracts favour large private providers are time limited and patients face disruption when they end, often because the company refuse to bid for renewal.

UK needs immigration to keep NHS running
Immigration is particularly important to keep Britain’s health service and its wholesale and retail, public administration and hospitality trades going, with more than 1.5 million migrants working in these sectors, according to the Office of National Statistics.

10th April 2017

Passport checks "an abandonment of principle"
Healthcare providers are being asked to implement racist government policies and compromise our professional values. NHS trusts would be legally obliged to check patients’ eligibility for NHS services upfront, and to demand payment before providing care. The reality is that these policies represent yet another instance of the government attempting to blame migrants for the devastating impact of their austerity agenda.

Isn't the answer to insist that they're on the permanent pay roll?
Locum doctors have been accused of running an “organised campaign” to hold the NHS to ransom after dozens demanded pay boosts of up to 50 per cent. NHS watchdogs said medics employed via agencies are refusing to work at the last minute, leaving dangerous gaps in medical cover, as pressures on hospitals mount.

Mad theories used to obscure real objective - cost cutting
NHS plans for every GP practice in England to join a hub of up to 50,000 patients are based partially on evidence which relied on a theory extrapolated from the size of groups of apes and monkeys. The real reason for this policy and the rest of STP is cutting the cost of healthcare. But we are not big spenders on health, most western countries spend more.

If general practice fails, the NHS fails
The crisis in general practice is unprecedented. Yet the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, fails to understand the seriousness of the situation facing GPs. One in 20 surgeries has disappeared since 2010. It's almost as if Hunt wants a primary care crisis so he can enforce his policy of superhubs.

6th April 2017

Virgin Media didn't get the contract so it starts legal proceedings
Virgin Care Services Limited issued court proceedings in the High Court against NHS England, Surrey County Council and the county’s six clinical commissioning groups one month after commissioners awarded the three year contract for children’s community services to Surrey Healthy Children and Families Services Limited Liability Partnership.
Making the NHS services into a market is great isn't it?

New NHS property company ready to asset strip our NHS estates
Sorry - that should read the "new organisation will ... provide a single strengthened source of strategic estates planning expertise for the NHS". To be able to build 26K new homes on NHS land means losing a lot of NHS premises, like hospitals, clinics and GP surgeries “deemed” redundant.

House of Lords: "more people will die" due to cuts in public health
A reports by the House of Lords has described the £531 million cuts to public health budgets in England during this parliament were not only "shortsighted but also counterproductive". The Lords committee was “totally unconvinced” by Jeremy Hunt’s insistence that reducing the budget would not necessarily impede progress on public health.

David Owen says Labour should commit to the "repeal the NHS Act"
Former health secretary now Lord Owen says Labour should commit to repealing the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

3rd April 2017

NHS 'waves the white flag' at 18 week target
Patients will face longer delays for operations after NHS Emngland decided to shelve one of its most important waiting time targets as part of its ambitious survival plan, which will also result in hundreds of thousands of people being denied surgery. The Royal College of Surgeons said the government are 'waving the white flag' on the 18 week target.

Money for mental health goes to pay off deficits
Ministers have been accused of breaking their promises on mental health after £800m earmarked to improve services was diverted to shore up hospitals’ finances.

All STPs to become ACSs
All health and social care organisations that drew up plans to overhaul care in England will eventually become accountable care systems, according to new plans released by NHS England. Why can't they explain our health services in plain english? .... they are our services that we pay for in taxation.

Paramedics take 'tens of thousands' days off with stress
Paramedics are taking tens of thousands of days a year off sick with stress, as growing numbers of 999 calls add to the pressure on NHS ambulance services. The number of days being lost to paramedics having time off work because they are struggling with stress, anxiety or other mental health conditions is rising, official figures show.

30th March 2017

STP jargon...or are they Sticky Toffee Puddings?
The BBC online health correspondent rarely uses plain language himself, particularly to emphasise the most obvious facts about STPs - that they're really a ploy to cut the NHS budget and to privatise it. However, at least he highlights that the language they use is unintelligible, parhaps deliberately so.

STP - The staffing timebomb
The NHS may soon be forced to rely on ‘nursing on the cheap’ as vacancies of qualified staff mount and trainees on cheaper and quicker courses are hired, the Royal College of Nursing has warned. Because the government wants to cut the NHS budget, they're trialling the use of ‘nursing associates’ being brought into the NHS in support roles for fully qualified nurses. The number of trainees applying to be nurses has fallen by 23 per cent this year after the Government controversially axed a bursary scheme to support students through education.

Extra budget NHS cash spent buying private healthcare
Half of the £2bn of extra cash allocated in George Osborne’s pre-2015 election autumn statement on buying care from private and other non-NHS providers, a Health Foundation analysis has shown.

GP workforce falls by record number
The GP workforce fell 445 over the three months to 31 December 2016 - a record 1.3% drop. Further to this, the independent DDRB (Doctors and Dentists Review Body) says "it is unclear how general practice services can be delivered five to 10 years from now given the growing workforce crisis facing the profession." We must all emphasise that the NHS crisis is of the government's making - the NHS is underfunded.

27th March 2017

Hang on, isn't he the health minister?
Jeremy Hunt attends the memorial service to a baby who died of sepsis to apologise. Will he also express his reget for his government's underfunding of the NHS that continues to reduce patient safety and will result in further tragedies?

Struggling NHS trusts charged higher interest
By proportion of GDP, the UK is one of Europe's low spenders on healthcare. Since 2010 increases in the NHS budget have fallen off a cliff, down from 6% to leass than 1% annually. As a result of ever increasing demand for healthcare trusts have to borrow from the government. Now, despite being responsible for NHS deficits, the government has increased the interest rate on these loans. Loans normally carry interest rates of 1.5 or 3.5 per cent but Brighton and East Sussex, along with other trusts in financial special measures are paying 6%.

GPs reject superhubs
Four out of five GPs believe the government's vision of primary care migrating from the current system to 1,500 'superhubs' would undermine general practice. A total of 80% of 522 GPs who responded in a survey said they believed shifting services into these larger units serving around 40,000 patients would undermine general practice.

22nd March 2017

13 Councils announce their opposition to their STP plans
13 Councils’ have responded negatively to their Sustainability and Transformation Plans – which Defend our NHS campaigners have variously dubbed Switch to Private, Slash Trash and Privatise, and Secret Theft Plans. Check on their responses here.

Health trusts say waiitng times will soar again
Longer waiting lists for operations and delays at accident and emergency departments in England loom under the present financial constraints, said NHS Providers, a trade association that represents acute, ambulance, community and mental health services.

Privatised NHS GP records: huge backlog of patient data
More than 200 high priority clinical documents are still awaiting further clinical assessment after more than 700,000 items of patient data were found undelivered in a warehouse last year. They were supposed to have been delivered to GP practices by former primary care support services provider NHS Shared Business Services (SBS), a joint venture company owned by the DH and IT systems firm Sopra Steria. Payments to GP practices to assess the information, which includes test results, have now exceeded £2.4m.

Not enough GPs for A&E triage: but Jeremy got the headline
Former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston, Tory chair of the Commons Select Committee, warned ministers the GP workforce would not stretch to cover the plans to have GPs at A&Es as announced by chancellor Philip Hammond in his spring budget. See below, 13th March.

13th March 2017

A stick to beat GPs with...
GP leaders have warned against using practice waiting times data to measure practice performance after NHS England's chief executive set out plans to publish data that will be collected later this year. NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said the health service would begin collecting data on 'availability of GP appointments for routine conditions'.

Surgery rationing rules must be axed, but...
“Arbitrary” rationing measures restricting NHS surgery to those in most pain must be lifted, health officials have ruled. NHS England has warned clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to stop denying hip and knee operations to patients using criteria which only allow surgery to those in the worst discomfort. NHS England clearly pretend that the need for rationing is nothing to do with them.

Another headline-catching idea that's unworkable
Simon Stevens told MPs at an evidence session on GP access with the House of Commons public accounts committee (PAC) that NHS England would set a requirement for all hospitals with an A&E department to have 'comprehensive front-door screening with GPs by next Christmas'. This prompted warnings from GPs that an already overstretched GP workforce would struggle to cope.

9th March 2017

Poll finds public thinks NHS is getting worse
Growing numbers of Britons think the NHS is getting worse and fear for its future, a survey has found. Ipsos Mori polling last month found that 57% of people believe that the NHS’s ability to deliver the care and services it provides worsened over the last six months, up from 52% in January.

Privatised primary care support service is a disaster
2 doctors have to wait 6 months for Capita to perform a simple administrative precedure, so that they could practice in England. They were finally placed on the performers list in the last two weeks after months of frustration with the registration procedure. which is part of the support services contract awarded to Capita by NHS England.

Over half of NHS staff work unpaid overtime
The latest NHS Staff Survey reveal that staff report being satisfied with the opportunities to work flexibly, but 59% are, on average, working additional unpaid hours each week. Overall, the proportion of staff working additional hours is 72%, indicating that not enough has been done to alleviate workloads.

ID checks will cost more than they save
From April the government is demanding ID checks before giving treatment. The cost of so called 'health tourism' is 300m a year, just 0.03% of the overall NHS budget. ID checks are likely to cost more money than they save, just like the fit-to-work assessments. People may be to afraid to seek care, be unable to pay; this puts lives at risk. This policy will encourage the perception that immigration is the reason for our social ills, rather than the government's austerity policies.

6th March 2017

Video of Saturday's the 250K march for the NHS
A march for a properly funded publically-owned NHS took place in London on 4th March. Organised by Health Campaigns Together it was campaigners response to the cuts and privatisation that are a central plank of the government's STP programme.

So that's the reason it was hushed up...
The loss of more than 700,000 items of patient data was kept quiet by the government to protect GP practices from being inundated with inquiries, health secretary Jeremy Hunt has told MPs. It's wonderful having such a caring Secretary of State for Health isn't it?

Hundreds of GP practices facing funding cuts
Nearly 800 GP practices faced average losses worth more than £50,000 per year under the national PMS contract review, with around 200 at risk of being unable to manage losses safely for patients. There are 3 contract types for primary care - GMS, PMS and APMS. PMS (Personal Medical Services) are local contracts between NHS England and the practice. The GMS (General Medical Services) contract is nationally agreed, see the BMA site for details.

A very anodyne explanantion of STP by the BBC
With only scant mention of the massive cuts and privatisation that the NHS will suffer under STP changes the BBC's health correspondent Hugh Pym does indeed pull his punches in describing what's in store for us. What he does emphasise is that it's the end of the purchaser/provider split, some also see it as a recognition of the failure of the Health and Social Care Act.

Video of explaining 4 failed NHS privatisations..
Here's a video of four disastrous privatisations, Nottingham hospital cleaning to Carillion, the collapse of the proposed West Sussex Muscular-Skeletal services to BUPA, the appalling Peterborough community services fiasco, and the once-trumpeted take over of Hinchingbrooke Hospital by Circle who withdrew from it in 2015.

Why is this children's heart unit facing closure?
The Royal Brompton hospital’s heart centre is among the best in the country, so why is it earmarked for closure? Ther is an argument that small, specialist hospitals are outdated, but the fear is that under the cloak of rationalisation  the NHS is being scaled down, fragmented and privatised.

The contradictions of government's NHS policy
The only way to plan to achieve the £22 billion cuts that STPs will impose must include cutting the number of hospital beds; there's no other way. But now Stevens says that STP planning must not include bed reduction...the lunatics are definitely in charge.

2nd March 2017

Need the low-down on STP?
If you find the so-called Sustainablility and Transformation Plans confusing and want a simple guide to explain the underlying drive behind Conservatives motives, then this Youtube video is for you; because the two main under-reported fundamentals of STP under the shelter of integrating health and social care, are to cut NHS budget and to privatise the lot.

NAO report on integration disappointing
The National Audit Office (NAO) scrutinises public spending for Parliament. Here's a recent NAO report on Health and Social Care Integration, itself a commendable policy, provided it's resourced properly. This the government proposes to achieve via the Better Care Fund. Unfortunately all government initiatives seem to have as an aim cost cutting - isn't improving public service a good enough aim? The NAO has found no compelling evidence to show that integration in England leads to sustainable financial savings or reduced acute hospital activity.

Why did so many older people die in 2015?
Research by Professors Martin McKee and Danny Dorling reported in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine  investigated rises in mortality rates in 2015. Their disturbing conclusion is that some people may be dying from the underfunding of health and social services.

Critical assessment of STPs
STPs are put under the microscope by senior lecturer John Lister in report A Critical Assessment. He finds that the plans rest on implausible assumptions and lack credible implementation measures. Given that the scale of the planned reduction in hospital services implies rationing and risks the collapse of some services, Lister remains unconvinced by "the wishful thinking and positive vision" of the STPs.

STPs dodgy legal status and lack of accountability
Professor Chris Newdick writes about the Problems of Legal Status and Accountability with STPs teams - the envisaged interagency groupings who will implement the meat of the STPs. Newdick explains the pitfalls of the fudges that come with promising to “do more, with less” - just when we need to be clearer than ever about rights and duties in the NHS. He concludes that, "We need a new National Health Service Act to stabilise the NHS".

27th February 2017

Another privatisation disaster: NHS data lost
Thousands of patients are feared to have been harmed after the private company NHS Shared Business Services lost more than half a million pieces of confidential medical correspondence, including test results and treatment plans. Yet again when private firms are brought in with the aim of cost-cutting a crisis results.

STPs 'not credible' without more community care
The Kings Fund says that STPs 'present an opportunity to move care closer to home and moderate demand for hospital services'. But it warns that plans to cut numbers of hospital beds are not credible 'unless investment is first made in services in the community', and that the ongoing NHS crisis could 'divert attention from work to transform care'.

..But is good care in the community cheaper than hospitals?
STPs are predicated on the idea of moving hospital care into the community, on the assumption that care in the community is cheaper. But is it? The only evidence I can find suggests that only a limited range of hospital cases can be moved into the 'community'; and what does 'into the community' mean - is it into people's homes or into care or nursing homes? To echo the Kings Fund as above, where's the planning to expand community care to accommodate this transfer? I've heard it say that good community care can uncover patients that should be in hospital and aren't.

23rd February 2017

NHS crisis continues: fifth of hospitals now on high alert
A fifth of hospital trusts in England have reported a high-level alert - warning of extreme pressure affecting patient care - on 50% of days in 2017 to date or more. The crisis is at its most acute across the South of England NHS region, with the area's 36 hospital trusts reporting a level three or four alert on an average of 17 out of 30 days.

Homeless GP service, rated outstanding, privatised
A GP service for homeless patients in Leeds, awarded an outstanding CQC rating just two months ago, has been handed to a new provider after a tendering process offering a reduced budget. Another excellent NHS service sacrificed on the altar of shameful meanness. No matter how good a public service is, it’s replaced by some sub-standard privatised incompetence.

Risk averse NHS 111 sends more patients to A&E
The NHS 111 telephone advice service is sending growing numbers of people to A&E or calling an ambulance because its staff are too risk-averse when dealing with illness. The 42 regional NHS 111 services are run by NHS ambulance trusts, groups of GPs and private firms such as Care UK, which has recently won more contracts. It uses far fewer nurses and many more call handlers than NHS did, then called NHS Direct, until then health secretary Andrew Lansley scrapped it.

Thousands of doctors may quit after Brexit
About two in five doctors who qualified in the European Economic Area are considering leaving the UK in light of the referendum result, research by the British Medical Association reveals. BMA chairman said "These are the people who staff our hospitals and GP surgeries, look after vulnerable patients in the community, and conduct vital medical research to help save lives."

20th February 2017

Is it that the government doesn't give a damn?
The NHS is at “breaking point” with a decline in the number of hospital beds leading to delays and cancelled operations, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned. Analysis by the BMA found the number of overnight beds in English hospitals fell by a fifth between 2006-07 and 2015-16.

Patient would have survived if hospital bed was available
A woman died from a brain haemorrhage after at least three hospitals refused to admit her for surgery because they had no intensive care beds. In a case that brings the deepening NHS bed crisis into sharp relief, a coroner said it was likely that she would have survived if she had been given immediate surgery to stem the bleeding.

Award-winning alcohol treatment service scrapped
Despite saving the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds, NHS commissioners in Cambridgeshire have said they will no longer fund the innovative Gainsborough Foundation alcohol treatment service. Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG said that it could no longer afford to support the community recovery and detox service because it is not a statutory requirement.

Reversed in 2011, now mortality has increased in 2015 ...Why?
A report by the Royal Society of Medicine found that in 2015 we then saw one of the largest increases in deaths in the post-war period. The report suggests that there is a strong case for arguing that more staff and funding for both health and social care are required urgently to prevent further avoidable mortality.

BMA: "STP plans are unworkable"
NHS leaders do not have 'anything like' the money needed to implement sustainability and transformation plans as soaring hospital deficits swallow billions of pounds in capital funding, a BMA analysis warns. They could have added that you can't offer a comprehensive healthcare system by cutting £22 billion from the annual budget.

13th February 2017

Private hospital rated outstanding while under investigation over death
The family of a man whose death was blamed on negligence at a private London hospital have said they are “horrified” by the decision of health watchdog CQC to rate the clinic “outstanding”, even as a coroner’s investigation into its conduct and the actions of some of its nursing staff is ongoing.

GPs allowing fee-paying patients to jump the queue
Family doctors in Bournemouth have set up the first private GP service at which people who pay up to £145 a time will be seen faster and get longer appointments than their NHS patients. NHS England considered it 'questionable', but whether it will take action to stop it isn't yet clear.

Inadequate social care is wasting surgeons time
Clare Marx, president of the Royal College of Surgeons, and Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, blamed cuts in social care for delays to operations caused by a shortage of beds. “Because of bed shortages, staff including surgeons are now sometimes left kicking their heels, waiting for beds to become available so they can operate."

Two-thirds of young hospital doctors 'under stress'
Almost two out of three young hospital doctors say their physical or mental health is being damaged because pressures on the NHS are putting them under intolerable strain. Many are so relentlessly busy that they go through entire shifts without eating or drinking, while others suffer stress, burnout, exhaustion and sleeping problems.

6th February 2017

Why do they order an enquiry?
The answer is under-funding of social care. But an NHS trust has launched a formal inquiry after an 89-year-old woman who was medically fit to leave hospital was trapped on a ward for six months, costing the NHS more than £80,000.

Underfunding causes Kent to halt non-urgent surgery
West Kent CCG has run so short of money that it has banned patients in its area from having non-urgent surgery for up to 102 days in an unprecedented move that doctors have condemned as unfair and damaging.

Medics highlight Trump's threat
A group of doctors sign a letter that condemns Theresa May's apparent embracing of the new president's actions, in particular the threat to our NHS of predatory US health corporations. They accuse her of appearing happy to accelerate the fragmentation and sale of NHS services to US markets.

Private ambulances increasingly used for 999 calls
Since 2010/11 the ambulance service has been finding £75million a year in efficiency savings. Ambulance services are increasingly calling in private firms to respond to 999 calls in the latest sign that  NHS care providers are struggling to cope with the sharply rising number of patients who need urgent medical attention. And yet we're constantly told the economy is doing so well!

Seeing the same GP reduces hospital admissions for older patients
A BMJ study has found that patients who saw 'the same general practitioner a greater proportion of the time experienced fewer admissions'. Continuity of care among elderly patients reduced hospital admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions - those that could be managed in primary care - such as asthma, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia.

2nd February 2017

Consultancies get £2.3 million to write STPs
Private firms have been paid a ‘shocking’ £2.3m to draw up controversial plans which will cut health and social care spending by more than £1bn in a part of London. According to health leaders drawing up the North Central London STP (sustainability and transformation plan), six-figure sums were paid to eight different companies, including accountants Deloitte and management consultants McKinsey, for services stretching from ‘administrative support’ and ‘financial modelling’ to ‘communications support’.

RCGP: Many STPs must be rejected
A significant number of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) should be rejected for failing to address general practice sustainability and workforce issues, the Royal College of GPs has said. STPs (aka Slash, Trash and Privatise) drawn up by local NHS organisations and councils, were in some areas planning for a reduction in GP numbers or zero growth in the workforce.

Nursing recruitment slumps after bursaries abolished
Applications by students in England to nursing and midwifery courses at British universities have fallen by 23% after the government abolished NHS bursaries, figures show. Nursing leaders said the sudden slump revealed by the latest university application data was inevitable given that student nurses now faced paying annual tuition fees of more than £9,000.

GPs have to beg for hospital appointments for their patients
GPs sometimes have to plead with hospitals to get a referral for a patient. Scrutiny by NHS clinical commissioning groups is causing exasperating holdups. Here a hospital CEO who has 'turned around' three hospital says if 'she [May] carries on with her current denial – and inaction – the NHS will soon cease to be able to cope'.

NHS entitlement scheme scheme could deter patients
A pilot scheme in which patients are asked to show two forms of identification before receiving NHS treatment could compromise access to care. The public accounts committee urged caution before officials extend the scheme, saying it could lead to entitled patients staying away from hospital.

30th January 2017

Hospitals 'dangerously full' in winter crisis
Hospitals were dangerously full during the recent onset of the winter crisis and breached an edict from NHS bosses to keep one in seven beds free, new analysis by the King’s Fund thinktank reveals. England’s 153 acute hospital trusts were told by NHS Improvement, the health service regulator, on 9 December to run at no more than 85% bed occupancy between 19 December and 16 January.

NHS intensive care 'at its limits' due to staff shortages
The NHS’s network of intensive care units is “at its limits” because they are overwhelmed by staff shortages and the sheer number of patients needing life-or-death care, senior doctors are warning in an unprecedented intervention.

Record number of cancelled urgent operations
Hospitals cancelled a record number of urgent operations last year as bed shortages left them struggling to cope with the growing number of patients needing surgery, NHS figures show.

Reaction to PM saying 'there's no crisis in the NHS'
Leaders of the BMA and the Health Financial Management Association and former health minister Norman Lamb take Theresa May to task for her denial of the crisis in the NHS.

27th January 2017

Over 100 complaints about Capita's take over of primary care services
In 2015 Capita was given the contract to run primary care services - administering payments to GPs and handling patient transfer records. There's been a catalogue of failures after the privatisation of centralised back office functions including patient record transfer delays and late payments for trainee reimbursements.

Routine GP referrals now blocked
GPs continued to face blocks on routine referrals as the number of NHS hospitals declaring the highest possible level of alert more than quadrupled in the second week of 2017, official data show.

What if the patient can't pay?
Patients could face paying their family doctors for out-of-hours appointments and minor procedures that fall outside the surgery’s contracted NHS work, under new plans being proposed by some GP leaders.

Weekend access is not key to improve NHS
...it just needs to be funded adequately! A report by Nottingham University Business School's centre for health innovation, leadership and learning found that patients wanted quick ideally same-day access to GP appointments, but that they did not express a strong preference for seven-day services.

23rd January 2017

Doctors - NHS 'will fail' this winter without extra cash
Hospital doctors have warned Theresa May that the NHS “will fail” this winter and patient care will suffer unless she provides an emergency cash injection. The leaders of 33,000 doctors from 30 medical specialties urged the prime minister to recognise that hospitals are “paralysed by spiralling demand” and warned of an exodus of personnel quitting the already understaffed NHS. It's likely this plea will fall on deaf ears, why? It seems the Tories are happy to see the NHS collapse.

Another reason why there's a shortage of GPs
Newly-qualified doctors are not moving into GP work in the numbers required. GP income has fallen for 7 years in a row and now GP practices have been denied a share of £218m of potential funding after NHS bosses withheld the largest ever share of quality premium funding from CCGs for the last financial year.

All hospitals leave nurse shifts with unfilled vacancies
Almost every hospital in England has fewer nurses on duty than each believes are needed to guarantee safe patient care, research shows. Analysis of official data by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) found that 96% of NHS hospital trusts in England had fewer nurses covering day shifts in October than they had planned and 85% did not have the desired number working at night.

PM wrong about GP opening hours
Almost nine in 10 GP practices in England provide appointments outside of core opening hours, according to official data that undermine Downing Street claims that GPs are adding to pressure on hospitals by failing to provide the 'access that patients need'.

Rally in Brighton to defnd NHS against STPs
Hundreds of people have attended a march and rally in Brighton to demand more money for an NHS "in crisis". The Brighton protest, organised by a coalition of groups, ended with a rally outside the railway station. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said the city, which has a hospital in special measures, was at the forefront of a crisis caused by underfunding.

Last community dental service in London shuts
NHS leaders has been accused of letting down patients in pain by shutting London’s last community-based A&E-style service for people needing emergency dental treatment. The British Dental Association "it’s absurd that NHS111 operators are asking patients to do ring-rounds [of dental surgeries looking for a free slot at short notice]."

18th January 2017

OBR: NHS needs £88 billion massive funding boost
The NHS budget will need to increase by £88bn over the next 50 years, meaning governments could have to raise taxes or cut spending in other areas to fund it, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has said. Or make extra effort to collect all taxes that are evaded.

Theresa May's 'wilful ignorance of NHS crisis'
Doctors' leaders have accused the government of 'wilfully ignoring' the crisis in the NHS after the prime minister again dismissed claims of a 'humanitarian crisis' in the service.

STP consultation in Cornwall 'absolute shambles'
An NHS consultation meeting on its Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) descended into shambolic chaos in Penzance, Cornwall. The meeting showed that NHS executives are underestimating the strength of feeling in local communities. Around 400 people attended the meeting on Tuesday 10 January. The organisers did not predict so many would show as it was standing room only. Here's a video of the meeting.

NHS cannot carry on as it's funded
Here's a realistic assessment from the chair of a London NHS foundation trust, Lord Bob Kerslake. "Increasing demand and continuing advances in healthcare mean that it needs additional funding year on year of around 4% above inflation. Whenever it has not had this for any sustained period of time, it has run into trouble.". Underv the Coalition and now the Tories it's been getting less than one percent increase - to talk of 'protecting' the NHS is very wide of the mark.

Is it right that GPs are asked not to make hospital referrals?
This is what is happening, so the danger is that this pressure results in a serious medical condition not getting proper treatment.

Commons watchdog slams government's 7 day access plans
The government has failed to consider fully the consequences and cost-effectiveness of plans to roll out seven-day GP services across England by 2020, according to a damning report by the National Audit Office.

One of the reasons why you have trouble getting a GP appointment
GP practices have been denied a share of £218m of potential funding after NHS bosses withheld the largest ever share of quality premium funding from CCGs for the last financial year.

2nd January 2017

Government underfunding = hospitals' toughest winter
As if you didn't know, England's NHS is underfunded; that is, despite a small increase in overall NHS budget, it isn't anywhere near that required to meet increasing demand for healthcare. Now, figures released by NHS Digital - I've never heard of them either - show that record numbers of patients are leaving A&E units without being treated. A further point lest you believe the stories that we can't afford a National Health Service, the NHS costs less than that of most other developed countries.

Father dies and scheme to relieve pressure on A&Es suspended
A scheme to reduce pressure on an Accident and Emergency unit has been suspended following the death of a "devoted" father denied casualty treatment just six days after it launched. The trial was one of dozens being set up on health officials’ orders amid a growing crisis over hospital overcrowding. Alternatively, the government could a) fund the NHS adequately (see above), and b) initiate a comprehensive public health programme to improve diets, increase rates of exercise and reduce smoking prevalence, so that demand for healthcare reduces in the long term. Instead, the government cuts public health budgets.

Number of urgent operations cancelled hits record high
The number of NHS patients in England who had urgent operations cancelled hit record numbers in November, soaring to almost double the level a year ago, according to government data.

NHS rationing:Needless suffering of hip and knee patients
Hundreds of thousands of elderly people are needlessly suffering in pain while they wait for hip operations because care is being rationed by the NHS, leading doctors have warned.

Shortage of paramedics
Ambulance services are facing serious shortages of paramedics just as 999 calls hit new peaks and hospitals gear up for a potential winter crisis, new official NHS figures reveal. The 10 regional ambulance services in England are short of 873 paramedics, data shows, and some are recruiting paramedics from Poland, Finland and Australia to plug gaps in winter services.

"NHS should shift focus to home-based care"
The NHS needs to spend more money looking after people in their own homes rather than in hospital, the chief nursing officer for England has warned. Jane Cummings of NHS England said too much cash was being pumped into caring for patients in “old and expensive” hospitals, rather in a more efficient domiciliary setting. But is there conclusive evidence that home-based care is cheaper? "The majority of the published evidence fails to contain robust cost information on infrastructure, planning and start-up costs."