Plans for more big cuts to the NHS are being drawn up. In secret meetings NHS England has carved up (yes again) the NHS into 44 new ”footprint” areas. The CCGs, the trusts and local authorities have been told to submit plans for cuts amounting to over £22bn a year. They are called ”sustainability and transformation plans”, STPs.
Nothing is out of bounds. Closing doctors’ surgeries or holding consultations via the internet, cutting staff and shifting patients out of hospitals, closing hospital wards or whole hospitals or merging neighbouring services. Contracting out more services or charging for services is possible. even likely. And of course the miracle cure of combining social and health care services, as if that will somehow increase their capacity.
Some of these have already been tried here. Andy Evans, CEO of the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Clinical Commissioning Group with his Prime Ministerial salary of £140,000+ pa, controls local services — the Trusts, the GPs and ECCH – because he holds the budget and decides (along with an army of staff) what they will be paid for doing what. He can decide what services survive, how many staff they can employ and if they go bust or not. Mostly he has balanced the books by closing and selling off hospitals like a rookie estate agent, closing surgeries, sending patients to private care homes or, of course, seeing them end up in A & E at the James Paget Hospital. He is now getting out, retiring, no doubt with a fat pension.
More Funds Not More Cuts
The fact is that the NHS is chronically under-funded and under-staffed. Cuts will not and cannot help. Patients still need to be treated and there are increasing numbers of them. Making them travel more miles to a bigger surgery or tens of miles to a surviving hospital will make care worse.
Too few nurses or carers to visit people at home will make care even worse than it is now. The NHS needs a lot more money. The country is very rich and those that hold most of that wealth and command most of that income should be taxed to fund the NHS. Corporations should be taxed to fund the NHS. We don’t need nuclear weapons or nuclear power stations. They should be cut, not the NHS.
When the junior doctors went on strike to oppose the imposition of a contract which would stretch them beyond breaking point they were defending the NHS. Now another doctor’s surgery has been closed in Lowestoft and the CCG wants to close the Minor Injuries Unit in Beccles Hospital.
The junior doctors were let down. The Clinical Commissioning Groups were supposed to be run by clinicians. They aren’t; they are run by bureaucrats like Andy Evans while the clinicians get on with their jobs, but effectively close their eyes. It isn’t good enough.