Sunday, May 20, 2012

10 ways Andrew Lansley has already destroyed our NHS

The Tory Health Secretary has wreaked havoc on our NHS. Standards are falling rapidly and are only matched in their demise by staff morale. Andrew Lansley is cutting 1) NHS spending as a proportion of GDP, he's 2) cutting staffs' wages (especially in the north of England) and making 3) them work longer while paying more into their pensions. 20,000 staff have been 4) sacked and many have reported that they have been 5) bullied and forced to accept pay cuts or be sacked. He has allowed companies like Virgin and McKinsey to play a role in 6) reshaping the NHS constitution and 7) decide the future of NHS Foundation Trusts and public borrowing limits. Lansley is switching the way NHS funding is decided so that money is diverted from the north to wealthy areas of the south, thus exacerbating the 8) north south divide. Lastly, patients have suffered under Lansley's NHS. The number of 9) urgent operations cancelled has climbed and so have 10) NHS waiting lists, whilst more and more 11) hospital wards and indeed whole hospitals are being closed in the name of efficiencies. 

1. Andrew Lansley is busy cutting health spending as a proportion of our GDP (here). As the graph below shows, in less than 100 weeks the USA's state (public) health spending will over take the UK. The once mocked American healthcare system is improving, while ours is deteriorating.

2. Andrew Lansley is busy cutting staff members. About 20,000 have been sacked since he came to power, and contrary to what he'll have you believe, the number of clinical staff fell last year.

3. Andrew Lansley is presiding over an NHS that has saw the number of "urgent" operations that are cancelled rise markedly since 2010. As the graph below shows, cancellations of urgent operations are up more than 50% throughout 2011.

4. Andrew Lansley is busy cutting staffs' wages and down-banding their pay grades. His reforms of their pensions mean they'll be lumbered with a 3% tax, on top of having to retire 2 years later. Staff have been given no choice, in many cases they have been told to take a pay cut or be sacked (here).

5. Waiting lists have grown under Andrew Lansley. Not only that, more patients are seeking refuge in the private sector because they cannot wait the extra time. Figures are being falsified. Read more about it here (link).

6. Hospitals are closing and Wards are shutting down at an alarming rate. Hinchingbrooke (here), Wrexham, Royston (here), St Helier, Hetherwood (here), Trafford, Lincoln and the Great Royal Western are all going through painful processes of manufactured consultation. In many cases, decisions to close hospitals have already been made but the public are not being involved properly.

7. Andrew Lansley has given Virgin a role in re-writing the NHS constitution (see here). He's allowed 1000s of Virgin partners (here) onto Clinical Commissioning Groups where they will be in charge of spending £60bn of NHS funding (here). Given that partners share Virgin Care's profits on a 50:50 basis, the conflicts of interest that Lansley has knowingly created will accelerate the demise of our NHS and quite possibly make the damage they will cause irreversible.
8. Lansley has exempted Virgin, Circle, Serco and other private providers from having to comply with Freedom of Information legislation. The Department of Health's new guidelines on Whistle-Blowing will not apply to staff that are transferred to private providers. This means that in the cases where staff have been severely bullied by private providers as has h`ppened in Plymouth (here) & Swindon (here) there has been almost no protection for staff members. The current lawlessness in private health provision has set worker's rights back 15 years. I am happy for Serco or Carillion to take proceedings against me if they think that my report is incorrect.

9. Andrew Lansley is in the process of formulating a war of attrition against staff who work in poorer areas, and poorer patients. His ideas will exacerbate a north south divide worse than the Thatcher era and reverse the narrowing health inequalities achieved by Labour. Professor Bambra calculates Lansley's plans to switch funding away from poor areas to places where patients live longer will mean cuts of £3,000 per parliament to places like Liverpool (Knowsley) and mean a gain for patients in Surrey of £1,750. In addition, his plans are underway to cut wages for nurses who treat patients in poorer parts of England such as the North East.

10. The list would not be complete without drawing attention to the lies, secrecy and disdain for transparency that Lansley has shown for the voters. They promised no top down reorganisation, they refused to publish the NHS Transition Risk Register. In addition, Lansley went ahead in creating structures (CCGs) and abolishing some SHAs without the legislation even becoming law. In contrast, he has dragged his feet on fully developing Healthwatch, or in giving Monitor the teeth it needs to do its jnb. The void created by the lack of accountability has all too often been filled by private consultancy firms especially when it comes to deciding the future of hospitals. The Tories have given the consultancy firm about half a million pound since the General Election.

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