This occasional newsletter is researched, written and edited by a group of concerned residents in Ealing, West London who want to preserve our NHS. We view the wholesale engagement of private, for-profit healthcare service suppliers as unnecessary, profligate and dangerous. Process improvement is what is needed in our NHS – not revolution.
Over 500 Attend Evening Save the NHS Rally in London on 10 March 2015.
Patients, clinical staff and politicians from all over London came together for a lively rally at Hammersmith Town Hall on Tuesday 10 March 2015. It was a show of force by those who are worried and unhappy with the actual and planned NHS cuts, closures and privatisations. Many of the attendees were members of NHS campaigning groups throughout London.
The mood amongst speakers and audience members was one of optimism that the Government’s assault on the NHS could be challenged and defeated. Everyone was encouraged to vote at May’s General Election for candidates and political parties who would defend the NHS. A vote for the Conservative Party was universally viewed as a vote for the death of the NHS.
One of the most impressive platform speakers was Ealing Hospital consultant Gurjinder Sandhu. He caught the mood of the meeting perfectly when he asked ‘…we bailed out the banks in 2008 so why can’t we bail out the hospitals in 2015?’
Read Rally Chair Anne Drinkell’s report on the event at:
Ealing Hospital A&E Outperforms Northwick Park A&E in February 2015
NHS figures show that Ealing Hospital A&E outperformed Northwick Park A&E and London and national average A&E performances in February 2015. These figures relate to waiting times for the most seriously ill patients (so called Type-1).
This poor performance by Northwick Park comes 12 weeks after the opening of its new £21 million A&E unit.. Many local ambulance, GP and CCG initiatives are also in place to stop A&E patients being taken to Northwick Park, presumably to take the pressure off Northwick Park A&E.
And so the questions must be asked again and again:
+ Why plan to close Ealing Hospital A&E unit?
+ What more can be done to improve the performance of Northwick Park A&E unit?
(From information supplied by Colin Standfield of Save Our Hospitals)
NHS Resorts to Untruths in Defending its ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ (SaHF) Strategy
The NHS NW London SaHF Winter 2015 newsletter states ‘…while performance nationally dipped, the North West sector was the highest performing in London in the last few months of 2014 – at 92.87% – for all types of A&E performance and was above both the London and the national average performance for the quarter’.
However, NHS official data reveals that at no time in the last quarter of 2014 was the North West London figure above the London average and in only 4 weeks did it creep above the England average. If you take ‘Type-1’ performance rather than ‘All Attendees’ the figures were, and continue to be, even worse.
NHS NW London SaHF continue to state publicly that ‘there were increases in demand in A&E services across the country during the winter period’. However the NHS’s own data clearly shows that there was no significant winter pressure on A&E demand, anywhere. For example in November 2014 the NHS huffed and puffed about a ‘surge’ in A&E demand reaching 417,000 in England in one week. Given that the nation’s A&Es in June 2014 had coped with 460,000 attendances/week, highlighting this November figure was disingenuous to say the least.
So just what are we to make of these untruths? Is it merely incompetent reading and interpreting of the NHS data or does it amount to attempted deception by NHS NW London SaHF?
(Information again supplied by Colin Standfield of Save Our Hospitals)
No More A&E Closures – NHS NW London SaHF Bombshell
The SaHF newsletter tells us this as well as that there will be no ‘further changes to local A&E services in the next three years’. All this makes a mockery of the SaHF Option allegedly chosen by residents in 2012. Within three years the four A&E units at Central Middlesex, Hammersmith, Charing Cross and Ealing Hospital would be closed. Well the first two were closed – in September 2014. And now Charing Cross and Ealing A&Es will not close at all. The Independent Reconfiguration Panel pronounced in September 2013 that it was unconvinced by proposals to close Charing Cross and Ealing A&Es. The hospitals (Trusts) were told to maintain A&E services until more convincing plans had been drawn up and alternative services put in place. Here we are 19 months later and such plans and alternative services are clearly not in place.
The newsletter goes on to say that (as from 2018) Charing Cross and Ealing A&Es will continue to operate ‘from new buildings’. One does wonder where these new buildings will be built on the Ealing Hospital site and which current buildings will be demolished to make way for them. But these post-2018 A&Es will be ‘modern A&Es’ – a term yet to be defined by the NHS. Many of us are certain that no blue light ambulances will deliver patients to these modern A&Es and that they will have no intensive care beds or consultants. Put crudely these ‘modern A&Es’ will not be A&Es at all. Yet another NHS untruth raises its ugly head.
Ealing Hospital Maternity Unit Closure Date is Still a Mystery
At the ECCG meeting held in Ealing Town Hall on 18 March 2015 it was announced that there was still no confirmed date for the closure of the maternity unit. Ealing mothers-to-be, 120 Ealing Hospital midwives and local NHS activists are variously anxious, angered and bemused by this continuing management failure.
SaHF plans in February 2013 included the closure of Ealing Hospital Maternity Unit. This was confirmed in October 2013 by the Secretary of State. In October 2014 ECCG stated that closure would be ‘as soon as possible’. March 2015 was suggested as a likely date for closure.
Here we are 17 months on from when the Secretary of State decided on the closure and NHS NW London is still unable to organise future childbirth provision alternatives to Ealing Hospital. Surely this is incompetence. Is this a failure of the SaHF strategy? Is this a failure by ECCG and/or NHS NW London? Is it all about the money and space not being available to expand other maternity units in north west London?
This is no way to run a public healthcare service.
NW London Hospital Health Commission
Chaired by Michael Mansfield QC, this is an independent investigation on the impact of the ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ (SaHF) programme. The programme includes the closure of 4 of our 9 hospital A&E units, two of which closed in September 2014. The Commission is funded by Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham and Hounslow Councils.
After three of the four public hearings – in Hammersmith on 14 March, Ealing on 21 March and Hounslow on 28 March – a distinct pattern is emerging:
+ SaHF is about cost savings and generating capital receipts by land disposal
+ Hospital A&E services have been reduced before any out-of-hospital alternative services have been established in the community
+ 90%+ of witnesses cannot see how longer journey times and fewer hospital beds and services will give us all a healthier future
+ SaHF strategy completely ignores current population growth as well as future London Plan residential growth
+ No high level engagement between SaHF and senior Local Authorities’ staff at any time – 2011 to 2015
+ No local senior NHS /SaHF staff have accepted invitations to give verbal evidence. Why won’t Dr Spencer, Dr Spicer, Dr Parmar and Thirza Sawnett defend the SaHF strategy in public?
+ The management consultants who conceived SaHF (notably McKinsey & Co) have failed to participate in these hearings
+ Healthwatch sees itself as a ‘friend of CCGs’ – not surprising in a way as it was set up and is funded by the Department of Health
+ The SaHF transformation seems to have casually expanded from taking ‘at least three years’ in 2012 to now in 2015 being a five year project ‘ending’ in perhaps 2018
+ Magnificent and courageous verbal evidence delivered by practising clinicians
For reports and YouTube coverage of the Commission see: www.saveourhospitals.blogspot
Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) in North Central London To Take Five CCGs to Court for Failure to Consult on Privatisation Plans
Five Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) – in Camden, Islington, Haringey, Brent and Enfield – have decided to combine Out Of Hours (OOH) GP service and the 111 telephone helpline and put it out to tender. This decision was taken without any consultation with the one million patients who use these services. KONP in north central London wants these services to be run by NHS staff and is taking these CCGs to Court for their failure to consult. More at www.camdenkeepournhspublic.org.uk
NHS NW London Spent Over £13 Million on Management Consultancy Since 1 April 2014
A Freedom of Information request has revealed that NHS NW London has spent over £13 million on management consultancy over the last 11 months. The money was spent to support the NHS NW London ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ (SaHF) strategy.
Three companies received the bulk of our money – McKinsey (and McKinsey-led consortia) £7, 237,600, PA Consulting £3,366,336 and PWC £1,528,06.
NHS NW London is just one of 27 NHS area teams in England. If all of them have spent similar amounts on ‘strategy and transformation’ then the total national spend on management consultancy over the last 11 months could be over £350 million. In London alone if the other two area teams spent as much as NW London then the total London management consultancy spend would be almost £40 million.
Let’s hope that the independent NW London Mansfield Healthcare Commission reveals just how well or badly our £13+ million has been recently spent on the SaHF ‘strategy and transformation’.
REPORTS ON LONDON’S NHS
Two reports were published in March 2015 on this topic. The larger report is ‘London’s NHS Into the Unknown’ which is the second report by The People’s Inquiry into NHS London. ‘Critical Condition: London’s NHS’ is a smaller report from the London Assembly Labour group.
‘London’s NHS Into the Unknown’
This 47 page report is an updated version of the original March 2014 report. A deepening divide is identified between Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) and the hospitals, mental health and community health service trusts which deliver front line services.
The report reveals increasing concerns about the lack of strategic overview of healthcare in London. It is very critical of the operation of a number of healthcare initiatives. It finds no grounds for optimism that anything substantial will be achieved by the Better Care Fund. It finds no evidence of the work of the local Health and Wellbeing Boards and Health Watch organisations and little evidence of local engagement.
The report finds that the London Ambulance Service performance has weakened. It also finds little improvement in mental health resourcing or funding. On the Primary Care front there is frightening evidence that community nursing services don’t exist.
A new recommendation is to tackle system failure and integrate care in and outside hospital. A repeated now urgent recommendation is an independent review of the clinical case for reconfiguration.
The people’s Inquiry is chaired by Roy Lilley and sponsored by Unite, the Union. The report can be downloaded at www.peoplesinquiry.org.uk
‘Critical Condition: London’s NHS’
Dr Onkar Sahota AM, Chair of the GLA Health Committee, has authored this interesting 22 page report on behalf of the Greater London Assembly/London Assembly Labour. The report highlights problems with GP services and the provision of emergency care throughout London. It is packed with useful, well presented data.
The report calls on the London Mayor to halt any further closures of A&E and Maternity wards and to prohibit the reduction in hospital beds until a full comprehensive review has been carried out across London. A London-wide strategic approach to providing health and social care in London is proposed – along the same lines of the one recently announced for Greater Manchester.
Read the report at http://ow.ly/KbNL5
Child Mental Health Crisis
Government research in 2004 revealed that one in ten children in England have a diagnosable mental health problem. Government figures released in March 2015 reveal sharp increases in the number of children being admitted to hospital for self-harm, eating disorders, depression and other psychological disorders. 17,278 under 18 year olds attended hospital A&E units with psychological problems in 2014. In 2010 the number was 9,328. Also over a ten year period the number of children treated on wards for anorexia (2,965 in 2014) has doubled.
However only 6% of the total mental health budget is spent on services for children and teenagers – totalling £50 million in cuts. Allied to this the overall spend on mental health services has fallen every year since 2010.
However a little help is on the way. In the 18 March 2015 Budget an additional £250 million each year for five years was promised to improve mental health services for children. This LibDem initiative is aimed at helping some 100,000 young people.
NHS Election Promises Given by Political Parties
The NHS is not one of its six key themes. It says ‘not a penny’ is to be cut from the NHS budget. It plans to spend £2 billion more annually on the NHS. Recently Mr Cameron has talked about creating a ‘truly seven-day-a-week NHS’.
It will add 8,000 more GPs, 20,000 more nurses, integrate health care and social care, guarantee 48 hour GP appointments, and cancer tests within one week. It will invest an extra 2.5 billion each year in the NHS. It will repeal the Health & Care Act and Section 75 in First Queens Speech. It plans to cap at 5% the profit that private companies can make providing NHS services. Will take the NHS out of TTIP.
Is pledged to protect the NHS from cuts. It will add £8 billion in NHS funding by 2020. It is committed to improving the NHS mental health service.
It wants to protect the NHS, end NHS privatisation, repeal the Health and Social Care Act, support the NHS Reinstatement Bill and give a higher priority to mental health.
Says it is the party of the NHS. Invest £3 billion in NHS frontline services, £130 million in dementia services, £1 billion in social care for the elderly and merge health care and social care. It would abolish the CQC and scrap hospital car parking charges. Nigel Farage, UKIP’s leader, advocates moving to an insurance-based system of healthcare.
+ National Health Action Party
Supports local A&E and maternity provision, removal of a health care market, and stopping privatisation. It wants to reverse government cuts. It is anti TTIP and wants to renegotiate PFIs.
‘NHS For Sale: Myths, Lies and Deception’
This is a new book written by Jacky Davis, John Lister and David Wrigley. Jacky is a consultant radiologist and David a GP. Jacky co-authored the 2013 book ‘NHS SOS’. Jacky and David are both members of the BMA UK Council. John is a founder member of KONP and a respected health researcher, speaker and writer.
The book details forensically what has happened since Oliver Letwin first floated the concept of privatising the NHS in his book ‘Privatising the World’ published in1988. It tracks the emergence and implementation of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and sets out what needs to be done to protect the NHS from corporate greed. ‘NHS For Sale’ provides a veritable arsenal of information to be used in the war against those who seemingly want to undermine the future of the NHS.
Book royalties will go to KONP.
To order a copy go to www.merlinpress.co.uk