On Monday 5th June Health Service Journal – The leading news print title and website on the British National Health Service, healthcare management and health policy – Lead with this headline:
The TL:DL version is: that NHS chiefs have been told to secretly draw up more cuts – with wards, A&Es and funding of IVF all at risk of being scrapped.
The HSJ website says:
Leaders consider ‘difficult decisions’
Closing wards and services, blocking choice of private providers, systematically extending waiting times, and stopping some treatments are all being considered under a national programme targeted at the health economies with the highest overspends.
The controversial measures are currently being discussed privately by national NHS England and NHS Improvement officials, with senior local NHS leaders, as part of the new “capped expenditure process”. The principle of the process, introduced this year, is to “cap” NHS spending in the targeted areas so that they meet control total budgets in 2017-18.
NHS leaders from areas covered by the process have been told to examine “difficult decisions” and “think the unthinkable”, including modelling changes which are normally avoided as they are too unpleasant, unpopular or controversial. HSJ has spoken to senior officials in most of the areas.
No proposals have yet been formally approved or rejected, sources said, but ideas under consideration across several areas include:
- Limiting the number of operations carried out by non-NHS providers so the funding stays within the NHS.
- Systematically drawing out waiting times for planned care, including explicit consideration of breaching NHS constitution standards.
- Stopping NHS funding for some treatments, including extending limits on IVF, adding to lists of “low value” treatments, and seeking to delay or avoid funding some treatments newly approved by NICE.
- Closing wards and theatres and reducing staffing, while seeking to maintain enough emergency care capacity to deal with winter pressures.
- Closing or downgrading services, with some considering changes to flagship departments like emergency and maternity.
- Selling estate and other “property related transactions”.
- Stopping prescriptions for some items, as suggested by NHS Clinical Commissioners earlier this year.
“Hard decisions” is a phrase we hear a lot.
Why is not funding our health service an easier decision to make than not spending £41 billion on replacing out nuclear deterrent?
Especially considering the chances of dying from a nuclear strike are vanishingly small compared to the chances of dying from a health issue
Why can we find money to reduce corporation tax but not find money to keep a maternity ward open?
It seems to me that these things are only hard choices if you accept the notion that its more important to protect the wealth of the richest 5% of the nation to protect the health of 100% of the nation. That seems like an easy choice to me……
Theresa May tells us “there is isn’t a Magic Money Tree”
And that’s an utter lie.
It’s there, it always has been. We’ve just been told for years that the money generated by all of us belongs mostly to the top 5% – And we have swallowed that lie.
The reality is that during Tory imposed Austerity the rich have got richer and the poor have got poorer at a faster rate than at any other time in history
The collective wealth of Britain’s richest people has more than doubled in the last 10 years, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.
This year’s list found the wealthiest 1,000 individuals and families now have a combined fortune of just over £547bn – or £547m each on average.
The figure has more than doubled since a total of just under £250bn was recorded in 2005, despite the world economy being gripped by a punishing recession over much of the last decade.
(From The Guardian 2014. Facts and Figures from The Sunday Times)
Austerity is a lie designed to take money from the poorest in society and give it to the richest.
So tomorrow, make a genuine hard choice.
Do it so that your children have decent schools, do it so that you don’t have to sell your house to pay for your care when you are old, do it so that your local NHS hospital isn’t forced to close wards just to protect the rich from Tax increases.