Friday, 27 March 2015

NHS problems 'at their worst since 1990s'.

Services in the NHS in England are deteriorating in a way not seen since the early 1990s, according to a leading health think tank. The King's Fund review said waiting times for A& E, cancer care and routine operations had all started getting worse, while deficits were growing. It said such drops in performance had not been seen for 20 years. But the think tank acknowledged the NHS had done as well as could be expected, given the financial climate. Professor John Appleby, chief economist at the King's Fund, which specialises in health care policy, said: "The next government will inherit a health service that has run out of money and is operating at the very edge of its limits. There is now a real risk that patient care will deteriorate as service and financial pressures become overwhelming." He said in terms of how standards were slipping - not how low they had reached - the situation was the worst it had been since the "early 1990s". The report noted much of the deterioration has happened in the second-half of the Parliament with many measures of performance being maintained in the first few years

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


This Campaign has succeeded. Weston Hospital Trust has announced that it is no longer at risk of being franchised out to a private "Health" Corporation.

It now looks as if the Tories' plan to give 5 small hospitals over to their corporate chums in the healthcare sector has crashed. The original scheme was to kill off 5 NHS hospitals in this way :

  1. Hinchinbrook
  2. George Eliot, Nuneaton
  3. Whiston
  4. Epsom
  5. Weston
Of these 5, only one, Hinchinbrooke, has been sold down river. All the rest have been pulled back from the brink.

The question is - why? Why have the Tories dipped out?

I wish it could be said that they trembled before the onslaught of this very campaign, but that would be a bit f an exaggeration. Although the fact that the Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group lost a legal case brought by our Bristol campaign colleagues may have played a part.

Weston Trust claim that it is because the Trust has got better marks in its latest assessment. Congratulations are due to everyone who helped bring about that improvement, but it is not really the reason. Better marks just means that it is a more profitable concern to take over.

The reason is probably down to electoral politics. With a General Election due in a year's time, with the economy less and less of a major preoccupation for people, and with health rising as an issue in people's minds, the Tory campaign managers may have decided to chuck some heavy baggage overboard.

(Incidentally, I love the comments of John Penrose MP, con, Weston super Mare, welcoming this decision. I have a pile of letters from him lauding the private sector as ideally placed to administer health care. "this should kill off any lingering fears that the hospital might be privatised for good", he says. In my correspondence, he denies that franchise means privatisation).

So politics is one factor. Economics may be another. The corporate bean counters will have been doing their sums, and must have realised that they simply do not add up. Weston is under bedded and under funded, the real investigations reveal this, and so they have all lost interest.

At least until the next election. If the Tories win, they will be back with another scheme to benefit their shares in the private sector. So this campaign will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Has the Project Board been acting within the Law?

The Health and Social Care Act 2012 is the cause of much of the grief in the NHS. This top-down reorganisation is more voluminous than the Act that set up the NHS in the first place. It is generally loathed. However, it does have a section that the local WGH Procurement Board do not seem to have looked at, or if they did, did not understand, or if they did, they did not bother to implement. it is section 14Z2. It goes like this:

14Z2 Public involvement and consultation by clinical commissioning groups
(1) This section applies in relation to any health services which are, or are to be, provided pursuant to arrangements made by a clinical commissioning group in the exercise of its functions (“commissioning arrangements”).
(2)The clinical commissioning group must make arrangements to secure that individuals to whom the services are being or may be provided are involved (whether by being consulted or provided with information or in other ways)—
(a)in the planning of the commissioning arrangements by the group,
(b)in the development and consideration of proposals by the group for changes in the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the proposals would have an impact on the manner in which the services are delivered to the individuals or the range of health services available to them, and
(c)in decisions of the group affecting the operation of the commissioning arrangements where the implementation of the decisions would (if made) have such an impact.
(3)The clinical commissioning group must include in its constitution—
(a)a description of the arrangements made by it under subsection (2), and
(b)a statement of the principles which it will follow in implementing those arrangements.
(4)The Board may publish guidance for clinical commissioning groups on the discharge of their functions under this section.
(5)A clinical commissioning group must have regard to any guidance published by the Board under subsection (4).

(6)The reference in subsection (2)(b) to the delivery of services is a reference to their delivery at the point when they are received by users.

I included the whole section to block any claims that it was taken out of context.Now it is very clear that the Weston Project Board has not held public consultations. There is therefore a serious question of whether they are acting, or have been acting (this legal language is infections) within the law. 
The Campaign has a team of solicitors looking at this question. Our solicitors feel that we have a strong case.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Good News - George Eliot Hospital to stay in NHS

George Eliot Hospital in Warwickshire was at risk of being privatised, because of poor performance which led to it being placed in "special measures". However, thanks to a huge effort to improve services, the threat has now passed.

This victory, together with the decision that Cambridgeshire and Peterborough CCG did not follow its duty to consult the public, and the victory in Lewisham, prove that it is possible to save Weston Hospital from private sector, provided that local people fight for it.

Friday, 31 January 2014

Petition to save Weston General Hospital from privatisation

We have a petition. It says simply

We want our local hospital, Weston General, to be partnered by an NHS trust and we want reassurance that a full 24/7 A & E Department will remain at Weston General.

Please sign the petition here.