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The future of hospitals under the Tories

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The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by skwalker1964 on Tue Nov 20, 2012 11:45 am

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Let me start this post by congratulating new Labour MP for Corby, Andy Sawford – who does come up in this post, and Labour’s 13 new Police and Crime Commissioners, who don’t. It amazes me that any PCCs were elected from the party that has slashed police numbers and devastated their morale, but I guess you can fool some of the people some of the time, and some are too blinkered to see what’s going on. Politics is a funny old game.

I’d also like to recommend anyone who’s interested to start listening to some Radio 4 shows on politics: Today in Parliament, Weekly Parliamentary Review and Week in Westminster, which you can get here. They can only be summary shows, but they do touch on things that you can then follow up on later yourself to find more. This article, and others, have started like that for me.

An informed people is dangerous to despicable governments.

Now, to the main event. I’ve written often on how this government has lied in Parliament – on economics, on employment, on the NHS, and many other things. But it’s relatively rare to find them blatantly lying to their own MPs – perhaps because most of the questions from the Tory back-benches on most issues (except the EU) tend to be tame, ‘tee-up’ questions designed to allow ministers to posture about the issue in question.

However, on 9 Nov a Tory MP asked a real question, and actually did his real job of standing up for his constituents. Philip Hollobone, MP for Kettering, challenged Health Minister Dr Daniel Poulter on plans by ‘Healthier Together’ to drastically slash health provision at Kettering General Hospital. Mr Hollobone highlighted risks to patient safety and the increased burden to health staff of having to negotiate an often-gridlocked road to the next-nearest hospital, as well as underlining the critical importance of KGH to his constituents, before stating emphatically:

"The nub of the points that I want to make is that local people simply will not put up with any prospect whatsoever of any downgrade to the accident and emergency facilities or the maternity wing at Kettering general hospital. Those are two highly valued, much prized departments and whoever plans the future of the hospital simply must not downgrade those two vital facilities, because they do a fantastic job in very difficult circumstances."

What followed was quite stunning in its arrogance and mendacity. First, Poulter lied to his own MP, after a smug, condescending ‘welcome’ of his comments:

"I reassure my hon. Friend that A and E and maternity services at Kettering hospital are safe. The Prime Minister has put that clearly on the record, and I confirm it again today."

Mr Hollobone’s concerns stemmed from a leaked report by Healthier Together which outlined a range of options for cuts to services in the region, top of which was a reduction of 515 beds – 78% of its total – at KGH. The 2nd highest-ranked option would involve a reduction of 229 beds, also at KGH. If facing a massive reduction in beds in both of the 2 most-preferred options is ‘safe’, then ‘at risk’ must be something indeed. The regions 5 hospitals are expected to save £48m, so the cuts are going to fall somewhere, and Kettering is both first and second in the list of ways to achieve it.

Then followed an intervention from Labour MP Lillian Greenwood:

"Whatever the Minister says, is it not a fact that in the official documents, the “best” option is downgrading Kettering general hospital’s accident and emergency, maternity, children’s and acute services, and cutting a significant number of beds? How can he say that those services are safe?"

To which Poulter responds both by treating her with condescension and by misdirecting via a subtle change of terminology:

"The hon. Lady is turning this into a political debate, which is exactly what the Labour candidate in the Corby by-election has done. That is completely wrong and what she says is not true—it is scaremongering. There are no official documents at the moment because there is no consultation of that nature at the moment. There is no NHS consultation. Perhaps she should focus more on Nottingham, which is where her constituency is. I am sure her constituents would rather she were on the train back to hold a constituency surgery, which is what I will be doing after this debate, rather than making silly, ill-founded and mistaken political points about matters that bear no resemblance to her constituents’ concerns. I hope she will draw a lesson from this. I know she has been put up to making that point, but this is not the time."

In other words, he starts with ‘it’s none of your business and you have better things to be doing than being here challenging me’. A shade short of ‘calm down, dear’, but incredibly smug and condescending. He then says that, because there is no ‘consultation’ at the moment, there are no ‘official documents’, but this is patent nonsense.

In this setting, a ‘consultation’ is a discussion with staff and public about implementing decisions that have already been taken, about the impact of, and best route to achieve, those decisions. But the fact that the leaked document lists options rather than firm decisions does not in any way prevent the document being ‘official’.

On the basis that no decisions have been taken yet, Poulter accuses Labour of ‘scaremongering’. But to any right-thinking person it’s perfectly obvious that such documents and their contents are absolutely of public interest exactly because they might lead to changes that will massive impact the local populace. Publicising and opposing those options is exactly the job of local politicians – it’s their duty, not scaremongering.

Poulter then goes on to tell an outright lie:

"The hon. Lady’s point was ill-founded. There is no consultation active in Kettering at the moment. There were some leaked documents about a range of options, which incorrectly set a number of hares running. The Labour candidate in the Corby by-election has already retracted his position. My hon. Friend has held the debate today because of that scaremongering, and because he is such a strong advocate for the needs of his patients in Kettering and his hospital. He wants to reassure them that Kettering hospital has a viable future."

‘Consultation’ and ‘a viable future’ are meaningless words and phrases that don’t in any way say that the cuts that Mr Hollobone fears won’t happen. But Andy Sawford, then Labour candidate and now newly-elected MP for Corby, who highlighted the proposed cuts, has not ‘retracted his position’.

As of now – 8 days after Poulter’s statement that Andy Sawford had retracted, here is a snapshot of Sawford’s own website:

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You can click on the image to see the detail, but here’s what it says:

"Our Hospital is under threat. Labour’s Andy Sawford is demanding that residents of Corby and East Northamptonshire are told the facts about an official plan which could see Kettering Hospital massively downgraded.

The plan – to plug an annual shortfall of £48 million in funding over five hospitals in the region including Kettering – was revealed at a meeting of the Kettering Hospital Trust members and staff earlier this week.

Stunned staff at Kettering Hospital were told to expect major cuts to A&E, maternity, acute and children’s services at TWO of the five hospitals. Officials admitted that the axe could fall on Kettering with hundreds of beds and potentially thousands of jobs lost.

Labour’s Andy Sawford says:

“Under this shocking plan, Kettering Hospital could be downgraded to little more than a cottage hospital.

“My children were born at Kettering Hospital. It’s where they took my grandad when he had a heart attack. Like my family, most people in the Corby area rely on Kettering General.” "


Does that sound like a retraction to you? And bear in mind that, while Poulter was responding to an intervention from a Labour MP, Poulter was still answering the question from his fellow Tory, Philip Hollobone.

For good measure, Poulter then repeats his obfuscation around a ‘formal consultation’, before making a statement that makes all his assurances absolutely meaningless:

"In my hon. Friend’s region there are considerable distances between the hospitals involved and, if at some point in the future a consultation opened up, those greater travelling distances between hospitals would be taken into account as it may impinge on patient choice."

To summarise in plain English: ‘We’re willing to tell you, on the record, that Kettering General Hospital is safe at this precise moment, but only because the formal consultation process hasn’t yet begun – but if it does, then we may well decide to go with the options to slash the number of beds. If we do, then we’ll consider the problems it’ll cause – but we may well do it anyway.

Some reassurance.

I don’t know much about Philip Hollobone beyond this exchange, but he appears to be prepared to challenge his own government for the sake of his constituents, and that’s extremely commendable. His principled stand has exposed the complete moral bankruptcy of his front benches, showing them to be willing to misdirect, mislead and even lie to one of their own MPs.

His stand has also set an example that MPs everywhere, of whatever party, should be copying. In stating that his constituents will ‘simply not put up with’ an attack on their local health facilities, Hollobone is correctly identifying a deep resource of local passion and determination that will exist in every community to defend its health resources and its hard-working health staff.

The scandal of this government’s attack on the NHS is compounded by the complicity or passivity of local politicians and NHS Trust executives who have either remained silent or – as in the case of the Trusts in the South-West and North-East among others – have enthusiastically collaborated with the government in its drive to slash health provision for ordinary people.

What we need to see and should be seeing is MPs, local councillors, health executives and unions uniting and flatly refusing to accept that health spending, staffing levels and services need to be cut, rather than looking for ways to achieve the government’s aims for it. Every person who cares about the NHS, whether they work in it or have political responsibilities or not, should be fighting this government’s attack and saying, clearly, simply and emphatically: NO! You don’t get to do that in our region, on our watch. If necessary coming out onto the streets to protest and to blockade until the government admits that it has no mandate for the changes it is making out of ideological desire rather than genuine necessity.

Let’s tell our MPs – of whatever party – that we won’t accept anything less than all-out resistance – and this lying, unprincipled government that we’ve seen its game and we’re not having it.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:04 am


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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Wed Jan 07, 2015 9:18 am


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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by stuart torr on Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:35 pm

Even my hospitals put the call out over the week-end for off duty staff who could spare more hours to please report to a + e asap which included nurses and doctors and specialists.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by astradt1 on Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:54 pm

And these are the staff this government feel are not worth the pay review body recommended pay rise.........

How often do MP's turn up when recalled to Parliament in response to a national emergency?
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by stuart torr on Wed Jan 07, 2015 12:57 pm

Precisely astradt, IMO only about 50%, what do you think?
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Private contractor about to throw in the towel?

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Jan 09, 2015 12:48 pm

Circle Holdings, which operates Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire, said its franchise is "no longer viable under current terms".

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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by boatlady on Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:40 pm

I recall having a bit of a discussion with a member of this very forum when Circle Holdings got the contract and were immediately putting out all the positive publicity about how they had already started to turn things around - I believed then that this was a very temporary improvement - now, about a year on, with no doubt substantial profits having been made for the Circle share holders, the company is withdrawing because they cannot provide a good service - I expected them to manage two years to be honest, but anyway, this does provide evidence of the foolishness of trying to provide a health service on a 'for profit' basis.

Perhaps we can hope the lesson has been learned and there will now be some proper investment in the NHS? bounce Basketball
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Fri Jan 09, 2015 10:23 pm

The NHS privatisation experiment is unravelling before our eyes

From an article by Benedict Cooper:-

Circle had been held up as a shining example of a private company stepping in to triumph where the NHS had failed. It’s impossible to see how this rhetoric can be maintained with any integrity given this monumental failure; the privatisation experiment is unravelling before our eyes.

And what’s striking about this example is that it is not only a failure of patient care standards, but in hard-nosed economics as well. One of the many severe consequences of marketisation is that when private companies bin their contracts with the NHS in such a self-serving fashion, it is the trusts’ time and precious taxpayer funds that end up being wasted on picking up the pieces.

What cost will Circle’s walking away be to Cambridgeshire and Peterborough? I shudder to think. And, thanks to the Health and Social Care Act, the next chapter in this woeful saga will have to be another gruelling and costly tendering process, administrated by the trust.


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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by boatlady on Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:08 pm

Precisely - surely the farce of competitive tendering has been shown up for what it is - a waste of tax-payers' money and a danger to patients
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Jan 09, 2015 11:15 pm

The traditional Tory preference for private enterprise certainly has its place in manufacturing, retail, and the service industry.  Government need not be involved in trading activity except to keep it fair and legal.

In my opinion there is however a fundamentally different situation where the essentials of human existence are concerned.  The provision of shelter, food, energy and public health & safety are very much the province of government, especially where individuals are not able to obtain those essentials for themselves.

That is why the privatisation of basics such as housing, utility supply and a universal health service is indefensible, and quite simply against the Public Interest.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Wed Feb 10, 2016 1:02 pm


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Hunt blocks doctor deal

Post by oftenwrong on Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:24 pm

In 1974, Tory PM Edward Heath called a snap election which asked the question, "Who governs Britain?"

After the people had voted , it turned out that it wasn't him.

How confident does the present administration feel about imposing conditions upon its NHS employees, one wonders?
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:09 pm

Jeremy Hunt cancels drinks event after junior doctors plan to show up and ask him questions

Hunt had been due to mingle with Tory activists over nibbles and wine at a party fundraiser in Fareham tonight, until the event’s open invitation began to circulate on social media.

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The future of hospitals

Post by astradt1 on Fri Feb 12, 2016 2:20 pm

So now that The *unt has enforced the change in junior doctors contracts when will we see this much talked about Seven Day Service?........

They seem to have been a light on explaining/describing what a Seven Day Service will look like and involve.....

Will it include Outpatient appointments etc or is it just another government sound-bite?......
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:27 am

Doctors, eh? You can’t find anyone more selfish in society

From an article by Mark Steel:-

We must admire the genius of Jeremy Hunt. When he was culture secretary he managed to anger almost everybody, including people who couldn’t care less about culture. If he became minister for circuses, by the end of the week there’d be a clown strike. If he was head of the Church of England, within a fortnight we’d see the first national church organists’ riot, led by 83-year-old Conservative voter Eileen Tidbury from Guildford.

Many of us, if we made a proposal that caused almost every doctor to spit with fury and support a strike, might develop a whiff of self-doubt. But luckily Jeremy Hunt is a true leader. Instead, he has decided to anger them even more, by ending the discussion and imposing the new weekend hours on them.

One Conservative adviser explained in ‘The Times’ that the “moderate” doctors must “defeat the militants” in this issue. It’s easy to see what he means: for too long the doctors have gone along with the extremist minority 98% who oppose the plans, rather than the 2% who represent the moderate centre ground. It’s just strike, strike, strike with them: they had one 40 years ago and now, before the dust has even settled, they’re having another.

For too long now we’ve rewarded the selfish in society, such as those people who train to be doctors, whose only thought is to flaunt their wealth having made no contribution apart from the odd operation. It’s time to offer overdue assistance to the unsung heroes of professions such as investment banking, who toil away with barely a thought for themselves – even on a Saturday – and have never once asked for a penny more.


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I didn't know that

Post by oftenwrong on Sat Feb 13, 2016 12:58 pm

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Until 2009, the British Syrian Society - headed by Assad's father-in-law - regularly organised visits to Syria for UK MPs from all parties.  This includes the present Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt - who declared he had received flights and hospitality worth £1,065 from the British Syrian society for a three-day visit to Syria in May 2007.
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Junior doctors' dispute

Post by Redflag on Tue Feb 16, 2016 11:29 am

I think the next move from the Junior doctors should be work "To Rule" Jermy Hunts work to rule which according to him is 72 hours per week, and any hours they have to work over there shift should be taken off the next days shift.

The other way is for the junior doctors to bite the bullet and not work over there shift, that way they will allow the public to see what WILL happen when the (C)hunt forces these xcontracts on the NHS junior doctors.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by oftenwrong on Tue Feb 16, 2016 7:23 pm

Protesting Doctors need to devise actions that will hurt the government more than they hurt a patient. We can all imagine what fun the gutter press would have with any allegations of untreated injuries or illness.

Delays in filling-out forms and reports that are required mainly for admin statistics might be a place to start.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by polyglide on Wed Feb 17, 2016 11:01 am

The actual place to start is with the facts.

The Health Service is under pressure because of the vast increase in those needing treatment, and therefore, for several reasons, the present situation cannot cope.

We can all moan and say this and that, however, not one person has come up with a solution.

The funds for everything that the Government eversee are limited.

Of course more doctors and nurses would be wonderful, and all just working 40 hours a week.

Please just explain how they could be afforded without increasing taxes etc;

One could just imagine the outcry were the Government to do so.

I have spent 9 hours in AaE during the past two weeks, and the treatment was first class.

Of course you have to wait if someone has a more urgent problem.

Of course things could and should be improved, however, you have to consider the actual facts and not day dream.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:13 pm

polyglide. The UK is the sixth richest country in the world, yet we spend less on healthcare per head of population than any other Western nation. The Tories can always find money when they want to - for a replacement for Trident, for a generous pay rise for MPs and Mrs Windsor, for a private plane for Cameron to use, for cuts to inheritance tax - but the will has to be there.

The Tories voted against the NHS at its inception in 1948. They don't like it because it's a public institution and it's been popular and successful. Oliver Letwin said in 2005 that the NHS would cease to exist after five years of a Tory government, and Jeremy Hunt has co-authored a book (entitled 'Direct Democracy') calling for the privatisation of the NHS. That's what the junior doctors' dispute is all about.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Thu Feb 18, 2016 10:15 pm

Andrew Mitchell's Daughter Hannah Mitchell Calls For Jeremy Hunt To Be Sacked

Hannah Mitchell, a doctor and the daughter of the former cabinet minister, wrote that Hunt was either "dishonest or stupid" and accused him of alienating “an entire generation of junior doctors”.

Mitchell accused him of misusing statistics, and said junior doctors have no confidence in him and that "he must be sacked". Her letter to ‘The Guardian’ read: "Health secretaries have come and gone, imposing new measures of varying unpopularity on the NHS, but not one has managed to so completely unite doctors in their dislike and alienate healthcare workers across the board in the way he has."


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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Feb 19, 2016 12:04 pm

Mr Hunt and IDS are where they are because of what they believe, and are prepared to risk unpopularity in the country generally because of their adherence to Party dogma, and perhaps in the comfortable knowledge of being able to afford private treatment for whatever might ail them.

From Cameron's point of view each is useful as a lightning-rod to divert criticism.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by polyglide on Sat Feb 20, 2016 11:03 am

Ivan,
I am not familiar with how other Nations finance their health care.

Do they have free treatment, as we do, or do they contribute in a different manner?.

Without knowing how other countries actually finance their health care one cannot make comparisons.

What I do know is that I would not like the problems facing the health service at the present time.

It would be tragic if we were to lose our present Health Service as there is no feasible alternative if those in need are to be treated according to need.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by bobby on Sat Feb 20, 2016 6:53 pm

If we are to believe we are as skint as this pox arsed Government keep telling us, and we honestly can not afford the NHS in its present form, why not simply raise the National Insurance contribution by at least 1%, better still 2 or 3%.
The lowest earners could be exempted from the rise whereas the better off could pay more on a sliding scale.
I have spoken to several people including my employees, from all I have spoken to only 2 did not fancy the idea of paying more, they were both comparatively low earners who stand to lose nothing or at worse£3 or £4per week. Both enjoy a drink as is apparent by the amount of time they spend in the pub yet they are not prepared to assist the NHS for their own kids futures. Thankfully the majority would be happy to see the NHS continue in public hands.
The problem as I see it, is that all Governments use the NHS as a political football and are afraid to ask for a larger contribution in fear of losing some votes. I am sure that if it is explained properly to the public, explained exactly why the funds are needed and that all of the accrued funds will stay in the NHS I don’t think too many people would change their allegiance to another political party and lose the chance of a properly funded health care service without the need of the private sector using it as a cash cow.
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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

Post by Ivan on Mon Feb 13, 2017 11:08 pm

Hospitals facing closure

These are the 19 hospitals, including five major acute hospitals, that are marked for closure as the NHS faces its biggest shake-up in a generation to plug a £22bn black hole in funding.

Acute hospitals closing or at risk of closure:-
South West London – one of five sites proposed to close – St Helier, St George’s, Epsom, Croydon, Kingston.
North West London – future of Ealing Hospital in doubt.
Leicestershire – one of three acute hospital sites proposed to close.  
Black Country – merger of two general hospitals to a single site.
Dorset – merger of Royal Bournemouth and Poole Hospital.

Community hospitals facing closure or redesignation:-
Alston, Cumbria **
Maryport, Cumbria **
Wigton, Cumbria **
Hinkley and District Hospital, Leicestershire
Rutland Memorial Hospital, Leicestershire
Bolsover Local Hospital, Derbyshire
Newholme Hospital, Derbyshire
St Leonards, Dorset
Alderney, Dorset
Westhaven, Dorset
Ashburton, Devon *
Bovey Tracey, Devon *
Dartmouth, Devon *
Paignton, Devon *

(*To be replaced by health and well-being centres)
(**Closure of all beds under consideration)

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Journal of The Royal Society of Medecine

Post by oftenwrong on Fri Feb 17, 2017 11:54 am

"Tory cuts caused 30,000 deaths"

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Re: The future of hospitals under the Tories

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