Monday, December 27, 2010

The NHS - Progress and Privatisation

The truth is that the NHS must progress, it must never be scared of progress. If we are scared of progress then we will just have a repeat of the way the NHS was allowed to decline under successive Conservative governments from 1979 to 1997. Sometimes tough decisions have to be taken yes, but I do not believe that we need to privatise the NHS to do this. Our NHS performance was improving year upon year until the Tories got back into government, already it has slipped into decline and is showing symptoms of the very same internal pressures introduced by the Tories, that nearly killed the NHS back when they were in power.

Of course there will always be things we like, and things we do not like, and change is sometimes hard to accept but is necessary on the path to keeping our NHS modern, vibrant and best serving the people, this is not unique, it is not Labour government all good for NHS, or Tory Government all bad for NHS, it is never as simple or straight forward as that, but it does have to be said, in all honesty out of the two governments, the Labour party have always run the NHS well and efficiently, and for the greater good and "free at the point of need". To the Conservatives the NHS has always been seen as something they would rather do without, to the Tories the NHS is simply money first, not the health and welfare of our people.

If we value the NHS and want it to continue, then as a nation we can never afford to behave like dinosaurs, we have to view change with an open mind and not just condemn it out of hand before it is thoroughly considered. Just because the NHS serves the people it cannot be allowed to become a bottomless pit to which we throw billions of pounds and it never be accounted for, or bothered about, this does not serve the interests of the people. Equally as a country, we have to stop attacking NHS managers and administrators, the vast majority of which are needed to keep the service and hospitals running efficiently. NHS managers are not faceless people, they are human beings with families and the vast majority strive to give the public the best possible service with the least problems at the time they need it the most. Speaking as a healthcare professional who has provided care at the sharp and messy end, I have had my fair share of moans and groans at NHS managers, but do appreciate their input, because without it, nurses and doctors would be even more bogged down in administration tasks and would not be out in the various wards and departments caring for people.

When Margaret Thatcher introduced non medical managers into the NHS, I was appalled, and identified many of the problems that indeed came to fruition. I was never in favour of top managers who did not have medical backgrounds then, and all these years later, I am still not in favour of this. Managers responsible for taking and making decisions on patient care, in my opinion, should always be medically trained, not until someone has worked delivering actual patient care in the many points of delivering patient care, are they in a position to properly understand the concerns and worries of patients, doctors and nurses. This is not to say that all managers and NHS staff need to be medical professionals, just those that make and take the important decisions over what patient care and services we are to offer and how they are to be administered.

Please do not misunderstand me, I have never been against a certain scale of so-called "privatisation",  I don't much care for it but recognise that if  handled correctly, and used correctly, it can be beneficial, ideally, no private companies save for suppliers would be allowed in the NHS, but we do not have this luxury or the money for this, so we have to be rational. People should be under no illusion that private companies have always been a part of the NHS, it is impossible to run it without, so market forces will always be there. Money is a factor in the NHS and we do have to cut out cloth accordingly. During Labour's 13 year tenure of being in charge of the NHS, we saw an NHS service not fit for "third World" consumption in 1997, dragged up by its boot strings and turned into one of the best health care systems in the world by 2010. Make no mistake, when Labour took over in 1997 the NHS was in a parlous state, it had just gone through years of terminal decline and chronic underinvestment under successive Tory governments, the problems were so immense that solving them took 13 years, and Labour had still not completed their revamp and total overhaul of our NHS when they lost the election in 2010. There were, and still are many areas in need of modernisation and attention, but from where the NHS was in 1997 to where it is now in 2010, the service is unrecognisable and patient satisfaction with the service has rocketed. However, Labour were not complacent and there were still many tragedies that just should not have happened, still the cost of human misery that tore into the soul of NHS carers, administrators and Labour government alike, which is why the Labour government's intent and resolve to improving the NHS for all never let up.  When the Labour government took over the NHS it faced many obstacles some not so apparent, there were ethical as well as financial pressures in solving the severe shortage of nurses and doctors, thanks to the years of the Tories cutting nurse and doctor training places. The staff shortages caused by the Tory governments took many years to recover from and now the same shortages will occur yet again, if the Tory government insists on carrying out its plan to decrease the number of nurse and doctor training places yet again. Remember it takes 6 years to train a doctor to GP level and GPs are at the heart if this government's plans for the NHS, if in six years we suffer a shortage of them, where does this leave their plans for the NHS? In total chaos before they start, this Tory led government seem totally incapable of thinking things through in the long term, they are unable to foresee that their actions are going to cause future pressures, strains and utter mayhem in our health service.

In 1997 the NHS was totally fragmented, it was as if a metaphorical sledge hammer had been taken to the infrastructure and smashed it to smithereens, it had to be put back together, but the problems were so serious it was hard to know where to start. By the end of their tenure, the Labour government will be the first to admit that they made mistakes, that they did not do everything they wanted to do and that to some extent there were still places in the country where the NHS was not running as well and were totally inadequate, not to admit this puts lives at risk, so we have a duty to identify and correct this as soon as it is known Overall though, what the three Labour governments managed to achieve in the NHS was nothing short of an actual miracle and it should never be forgotten, that if it were not for the Labour party, our country would have lost our NHS years ago.

Under the Tories and Thatcher we saw the loss of cottage hospitals, the closure of accident services, the closure of wards in every single hospital in the country, the number of ITU/HDU beds and SCABU cots fell alarmingly and seriously ill patients and babies were often ferried half way across the country to vacant beds or cots to receive the care they needed. At one point in the Tory NHS we saw ambulances pulling up in hospital car parks and were unable to take their patients into the A&E departments because the departments were full to bursting, some patients had to be treated in the ambulance in the car park. Patients on trolleys waiting for beds was the norm. Medical supplies were in short supply and pressures on other services were at breaking point. During this mayhem the then Tory government decided in their infinite wisdom to put the all important hospital cleaning out to tender and private contractors became responsible for keeping our hospitals clean - it was at this point that we saw a rapid increase in the so-called hospital "superbugs" like MRSA and C-Diff etc, as contracts were awarded to the lowest bidders, irrespective of if they could actually carry out a proper and efficient service for their money. The charge of the Tories then was exactly as it is now, "they know the price of everything and the value of nothing" and this causes unnecessary problems and even deaths in a service like the NHS.

By the time Labour left office in 2010 they had managed to pull off a minor miracle, they had (it has to be said) with the help of the private sector provided over 120 brand new state of the art hospitals, which we as a country can be very proud of, incidentally the Tory government has now halted all hospital building programmes. The labour government also had every A&E department in the country which needed it refurbished and upgraded as well as building extra wards or departments onto existing hospitals.
Labour introduced targets, a lot of healthcare professionals were against the introduction of targets, but they did help and they did do what they said on the can.
  • Hospital appointments to see a doctor increased
  • Outpatient clinic waiting times fell
  • Accident Service waiting times fell
  • Waiting lists for operations and other procedures fell
  • Patients suspected of having cancer fast tracked and their treatment waiting times fell.

Since coming to office this Tory government have scrapped internal targets and already in all the above areas waiting times are already increasing at an alarming rate.

Different government's will have different ways of running the NHS and different approaches, this is to be expected and it need not alarm people, however, the difference between a Labour government and a Conservative government running the NHS in present times has never been so stark. The Labour government ensured the NHS was funded adequately and the incoming prime minister, David Cameron, promised us faithfully that the "NHS was safe in his hands", but it turns out that it is anything but safe in his or Tory hands and now the NHS faces the same kind of cuts that almost ruined it before and turned it into a third world service the last time the Tories were in control of it. It not only faces cuts, but it is doubtful the NHS will survive as we know it today, it is in the throes of being "completely" privatised by stealth, we are losing our NHS.

Make no mistake the Conservatives are going to privatise the NHS and they always had plans to do this BEFORE the election, they did not tell us because they knew, if they did, then people would not vote for them, and now the British healthcare system is moving towards "Americanisation". Very soon we will be forced to buy expensive health insurance for our families and if we cannot afford that then we will be treated in "poor hospitals". All the new modern hospitals the Labour government had built in partnership with the private sector, will be sold off to "friends of the Tory party", these so-called friends usually turn out to be very large financial backers of the Tories, donating millions of pounds to Tory coffers and the companies they run like Healthcare UK and Care UK, stand to win lucrative contracts worth millions from NHS privatisation. Within a few years, people who do not have expensive health cover, will not  be able to be treated in the hospitals their taxes help pay for, if they have not got the ability to pay or buy expensive health cover then they will be turned away from accident and emergency departments and ferried miles to the nearest designated hospital for the poor.
We will see the privatisation of our ambulance service, and different companies will run them, patients will be asked at scene of their accident if they have health cover, if they have not then some ambulances will not even take them, they will just eave people there unaided, this is the policy in America and this is what this government are trying to introduce here.

This Conservative government threat to our NHS is real and it is coming to us, we already know that the Conservatives have promised American politicians that they will govern as more "pro-American". We have already seen the start of the decay set to hit our NHS.  Rupert Murdoch's Fox News in the US, gave copious amounts of  airtime over to Conservative MEP Daniel Hannan, who is a close friend of David Cameron's,  Hannan used all that airtime to lie and completely trash our wonderful and efficient NHS to the American people. Hannan told so many lies, that even David Cameron when in opposition, was forced to intervene and deny what he was saying, but now David Cameron himself has been found to be lying about NHS funding, Cameron had alleged that funding would increase in real terms, it is not, because it is not keeping abreast of inflation, which is beginning to rise significantly.

If people do not stand up now, rise and fight this creeping Tory privatisation cancer in our NHS, then we are going to lose it and once the NHS is lost, we will NEVER, not ever again be able to afford to take it back under state control. This maybe OK if you are rich and affluent like the millionaires we have in this government, people like Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, Vince Cable, Danny Alexander, people like this will always be able to purchase the best health cover for them and their families, the best treatments, the best medications etc but for the great majority of people this will be just totally impossible, we are now entering a phase where many of our citizens will have no health care cover and will be vulnerable, is this what the Tories call progress?

Under this Tory government we are very likely to see every single NHS Trust hospital sold off to the private sector, as the Tories seek to completely rid government of the NHS, it is a well known fact that the Tories having previously described the NHS as a "millstone around their necks", want to rid central government of the NHS entirely.

Remember Cameron saying the NHS was safe with the Conservatives? Do you still believe the liar? Recently David Cameron has been caught out in a NHS funding lie. John Healy Challenges Tories To Explain NHS Broken Promise On Funding

" When Andrew Lansley took over as health secretary, the NHS was performing well, with satisfaction ratings that most companies would be proud of. The experts advised them to keep the NHS stable, maintain high standards and keep staff motivated to work harder with less money.
So Lansley published a plan to do the opposite. He is forcing GPs to buy all the services and drugs for their patients and wants to strip out the backbone of the NHS: strategic health authorities (SHAs) and primary care trusts (PCTs). He wants to put patients in charge and trust people power and open competition to keep standards high. The plan relies on the SHAs and PCTs transferring their roles to GPs, and coping with less money by making massive efficiency savings.

Unfortunately, they are not doing either task very well. Lansley's first act was to tell them they were not very good and would be abolished. As a result, they are disintegrating as staff desert a fleet of sinking ships. Senior NHS managers are alarmed by the uncertainty spreading across the service. The resulting hysteria is leading to botched budget cuts as treatments are restricted and increasing numbers of frontline staff are told they are losing their jobs."

Read More:  The NHS is NOT Safe in Tory Hands

David Cameron and the Tories promised us NO top down reorganisation of the NHS, they have broken this promise too, what the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is proposing, is the biggest shake up to performed on our NHS, which quite frankly has never been tried anywhere else in the world, by Lansley's own admission, this is set to cause major disruption in the system and there is absolutely no precedent for it and absolutely no guarantee that it will work. Thousands of lives could be placed in danger and all this is to be completed by 2013? All this major upheaval at a time when Cameron and chancellor George Osborne are taking a huge, massive gamble with the economy and peoples livelihoods and our children;s futures? Why now? The NHS is working very well, it needs changes, every big organisation does, but what it does not need is this incredible risk taking with all of our lives!

The Tories are taking everything we hold dear in this country and destroying it. Bit by bit, they are destroying the British way of life and they are ripping up the very fabric of our society.

If you value the NHS, rise up and do not allow this "Conservative" led government to destroy everything we hold dear.

Fight, Fight, Fight back!

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