Showing posts from 2012

The Madness of King Nicholson

Since June 2009 the NHS in the UK has been told it MUST make 'efficiency savings' (cuts) of£20bn. The original edict came from Sir David Nicholson - then chief executive of the NHS and now chief executive of the all powerful English NHS National Commissioning Board. Since that time no one has been able to properly explain why these cuts are needed - and I mean proper evidence based reasoning. Many reasons have been given, and often they are ideological. The impact of the cuts are huge and indeed will affect patients and their illnesses so it is vital we hold politicians to account for their constant mantra of the need to cut the NHS budget.

I believe these cuts are hugely damaging to the NHS and are being used to degrade the service and soften it up and allow many more private companies to move in - in a similar way that the British railway system didn't have the investment it required in the 80s and 90s so it became a 'basket case' and the politicians could say &#…

The NHS budget IS being cut!

We hear all the time that the NHS budget will increase year on year. A political promise that holds a lot of sway. It reassures patients that their healthcare is safe and secure and won't be cut or rationed.

The NHS budget promise was made in the coalition agreement by Messrs Cameron and Clegg in 2010 - see page 24 here - the first bullet point under 'section 22 - NHS'.

I have discovered though that this promise is not entirely truthful. HM Treasury issue detailed figures on expenditure by each Governmental Department and figures I have discovered show that in 2010-2011 the NHS budget FELL.

The actual NHS budgetary figures can be found on tab 1.9 of this spreadsheet which is downloaded from the official HM Treasury website - a shorter version is copied and pasted here...

It is quite clear that NHS spending has risen enormously in recent years but the promises made by the coalition that the budget is safe in their hands is not true. Yes the country has an enormous deficit …

The NHS Pledge

I have launched a survey tonight called the NHS Pledge.

The idea is to get as much support as possible for four statements that support a fair and equitable NHS. The changes happening to our NHS are very worrying as I have outlined in my previous postings and I am hoping this survey will get huge support which will make politicians and policymakers sit up and listen. We really must do all we can to protect a fair and equitable NHS.

I would be grateful if you could have a look at the survey and then forward the link on to anyone you know. The more support we can get the better. Please do send the link far and wide.

This is the website link which you can click and also copy and paste in order to send on to friends via email.

Many thanks indeed,


When a piece of plastic makes all the difference

My sister lives in South Africa. A country with huge variations in standards of living. It is also a country with huge differences in health care. Some of this is due to the hangover from apartheid but they have a radically different system of healthcare in South Africa. High quality publicly provided and funded healthcare is a basic human necessity and it needs to be this way across the world - but sadly this is not the case.

In South Africa there are 43 infant deaths per 1000 live births compared to 5 infant deaths per 1000 live births in the UK. Average life expectancy is South Africa is 50 years whilst in the UK it is 80 years.

I saw my sister last week for the first time in a few years and we decided to go out for a bite to eat. Just before we left she was rifling through her bag saying she had lost something. I asked her what she was looking for and she said she couldn't find her 'medical insurance card'. She told me this was the card she used to receive her healthca…

Bankers' Bonus or Care for the Elderly?

We have just seen a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (full report here) which raised the issue of charging for NHS services and even for GP appointments - something that is roundly rejected by all those who wish to defend the NHS as a service available to all no matter what their background or income is. 
All this flows from the constant political dogma we hear that the NHS is 'unaffordable' and 'we can't continue like this'. The NHS has been told to 'save' £20bn - we have never been given robust evidence or reasons for this and they are seen by many as cuts. The £20bn 'efficiency savings' as they are called, were initially instigated under the New Labour government - a policy continued by the coalition. However the real reason for these austerity measures meted out on the NHS are now coming to light.
On the day we were told the country couldn't afford £2bn to care for our elderly when they are at their most vulnerable, we hear that…

The Real Reason Behind the Doctors Pension Dispute

We have seen doctors take industrial action for the first time in nearly 40 years. Unprecedented stuff and it shows that there must be real problems with relations between the coalition government and the medical profession.

We know that every profession in the NHS opposed the coalition Health Act but the government forced it through with the vital support of the Liberal Democrats.

This pension dispute though has a more sinister reason for it.

It is well known that the NHS will be moving towards a much more commercialised business style ethos - mostly thanks to the Health Act. Private companies know that the single biggest expense in a business is the staffing costs. Following on from that are the cost of pensions to the employers. The coalition have realised this and are now seeking to impose a pension deal on ALL NHS staff that increases their costs and reduces the employers costs.

The evidence is in the speech by the Rt Hon Danny Alexander when he states "The new pensions will be …

Quality - at what cost?

We have heard much about the Health Act and how it will lead to increased competition within the NHS (and therefore increased cost) and also open up the NHS to private providers in a big way, meaning the lawyers and accountants will have a field day making money from negotiating market-driven NHS contracts. Something very sinister remains at the centre of the Act. Something that could seriously undermine, or even destroy, the doctor patient relationship. It is called the ‘quality premium'. This concept is all around paying clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) a ‘bonus' if they find themselves with a surplus on their budget at year end and they have met certain ‘targets'. In fact here is the exact DH quote on what the quality premium will be for: ‘We will ensure that commissioning groups receive a quality premium only where they can demonstrate good performance in terms of quality of patient care and reduced inequalities in healthcare outcomes.' Now that sounds OK if y…

What Next?

We no longer call it the Health and Social Care Bill - it is now the Health and Social Care Act. The Queen used her signature to make it law on 27th March 2012.

For many of us campaigning against the Health Bill this was a day we hoped we would never see. We fought for over 18 months to highlight all the dangers in the Bill to the NHS. During the last few months the legislation looked in increasing danger with many more groups opposing the Bill. But the political numbers were against us - with the support of the Liberal Democrats (in the Lords and the Commons) the Bill became law. Without LibDem support the Bill would have fallen. The LibDems ensured this most unpopular Tory Bill became law.
So we must ask - what next?
Many of us will continue the fight. In fact we will redouble our efforts. We will continue to highlight all the dangers to the NHS that will come about under this Act. We want to promote a fair NHS for all and we wish to see an NHS restored after the next election to on…

Paracetamol for Nick Clegg?

So the House of Lords have nearly finished their work on amending the Bill. The Lords haven't altered the Bill to any significant extent - which you wouldn't believe if you listened to the politicians who say they have worked wonders and made their Bill much more palatable. Amazingly LibDem Lords even voted AGAINST their own amendments which seems hard to believe.

We have seen a real headache occur for Nick Clegg. His grassroots members - those who tramp the streets every weekend campaigning for the party - are now in effect opposing the Bill. This was after an impassioned plea by Mr Clegg to 'move on' and accept the Bill and work with it. Well they have had their say and it doesn't chime well with Mr Clegg. His party stalwarts said NO to the Bill. How humiliating for the party leadership. The grassroots LibDems must be very worried as they see political annihilation looming on the electoral horizon.

Surely the LibDems must see that the enormous professional opposi…

More developments

It has been a busy time recently with almost daily (and sometimes hourly) developments on the Health Bill.

I very much support doctor led improvements to the NHS (commissioning) but oppose the Health Bill given what it will bring about and how it will damage equitable care. The BMA GP Committee has now formalised its position in opposing the Bill.

We have seen Mr Lansley mobbed outside Number 10 Downing St by members of the public unhappy with his Health Bill. Almost every body of health professionals in the NHS are against the Bill now and it seems difficult to believe that the Bill will be foisted on the NHS with such opposition.

The Observer has reported how the Royal Colleges are exerting pressure on the coalition and there is even a mention for our sister website - callonyourcollege!

It is a worrying time as to what the impact of the Bill will be on GPs and their commissioning efforts. This excellent paper outlines some major concerns.

The Royal College of Physicians will now bal…

Keeping up the Pressure

There have been a number of developments this past week or so. The RCGP came out in full opposition to the Health Bill and caused a significant stir. Yes GPs are involved in commissioning but this does not mean they want the Health Bill in place and all that comes with it. The Royal College of Radiologists and Royal College of Physicians have called special meetings to allow their members to debate the Bill. The Chartered Society of Physiotherapists now oppose the Bill as well.

I have set up a survey for doctors who are members of a Royal College to anonymously ask their College for a special meeting to allow them to have a view and let their College leadership know what their feelings are about this legislation.

This survey can be found here - - and please do pass on the link to your medical colleagues. The more names we can gather the better - and it is anonymous - names will not be published.

More and more people and organisations ar…

The beginning of the end?

The Health Bill is now opposed by the BMA, the NHS Consultants Association, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives.
A further blow has been struck to Andrew Lansley and David Cameron. The extremely influential Health Select Committee (chaired by the former Conservative Health Secretary Stephen Dorrell) has produced a damning report on the dangers of the Health Bill.
This must surely be the final nail in the Health Bill coffin. It now has virtually no support outside of the coalition government and it is time the politicians listened to the health professionals. Who do you trust more - your doctor or your politician?

Heroic Effort

The running is over, the feet are sore, the muscles are tight and the efforts of two people to highlight the dangers of the Health Bill to the NHS has been truly momentous. Bevans Run is over and it has done so much to highlight how the coalition Health Bill will privatise much of the NHS.
Here is a photo of them at their final destination - the Dept of Health on Whitehall. Dr Clive Peedell and Dr David Wilson. A large rally took place of around 300 people and listened to speakers talk about how the NHS is under threat by this Bill. I spoke and said that doctors do not support the Bill (BMA Council representing all UK doctors voted to oppose the Bill) and who do you trust - your doctor or your politician? Mr Cameron repeatedly says doctors support these changes - they do not!

We also went to Mr Cameron's constituency in Witney, Oxfordshire and delivered a dossier of concerns to his office and here is the photo of us outside the door - from the left Professor Ian Banks (President M…


Over the past 18 months I have been campaigning heavily for the NHS. Ever since the coalition White Paper was published in July 2010 I knew immediately it was an utter disaster for the NHS. I opposed it completely from the outset. It is a threat to equitable care across England (it is an England only Health Bill). No matter what your background, your income or your status in society is the NHS is there for you at the moment. This may not be the case in the future. Private firms will increasingly move into healthcare, there will be fragmentation of care, increasing bureaucracy, introduction of insurance based systems and personal health budgets which will mean if you can afford to 'top up' your budget and buy better care then you will be able to do so. It is already happening all around us in social care and in care of the elderly.
This is why over the past 18 months I have written articles about the damaging Bill, spoken at many meetings to patients and doctors about these cha…