Why the changes to the NHS should worry us all

The plans for yet another reorganisation of the NHS should worry people greatly especially those who live or care for people in the disadvantaged areas of North Staffordshire. The NHS resembles a pinball being catapulted around at the whim of whatever governing party is in power.

In the last 20 years prior to which we had 40 years of comparative stability we have seen several major changes. In North Staffs the purchaser/provider split came and went followed by GP Fundholders then Primary Care Groups. Then ten years Stoke had three Primary Care Trusts and then two and then one. Newcastle and the Moorlands have also seen changes in how health care services are run. We have seen District Health Authorities, Strategic Health Authorities whose abolition has now been announced today come and go.

The Patient Voice has also been changed from Community Health Councils to Patient Public Involvement to Links with the influence of the user of health care service being progressively weakened until we end up with the appalling case at Stafford Hospital. This obsession with structure and reorganisation, which both Labour and Tory suffer from, has come at a cost, both financial and human.

Another change poses even more worrying questions. The transfer of resources directly to GPs echoes the Fundholding experiment of the 90s which had a rupturing impact on health care widening even more health inequalities in the poorer areas. GPs in the more affluent areas tended to acquire more resources and facilities at the expenses of GPs in the deprived area.

These reforms were not mentioned during the recent General Election, but these changes open the door to privatisation and the effective death of a socialised health service. We should sleep even more uneasily in our beds tonight.

Stafford Hospital Report ““ Reflects County Council’s Concerns

The report into Stafford Hospital by Robert Francis QC has reflected concerns raised by Staffordshire County Council’s administration.

Matthew Ellis, the county council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care said:

“Robert Francis has today delivered an in-depth and robust report into failings at the hospital. The report, for the first time, nails the reasons for these failings. We must however never lose sight of the fact that people lost loved ones which is a very personal tragedy.

“I met with Robert Francis before he started his inquiry and made clear my views on the failings that resulted in this terrible tragedy. This was a lethal combination of failings in both national and local regulation. In short a lot of organisations looked at Stafford Hospital but nobody saw what was happening. I am pleased that Mr Francis has reflected these views in his findings and recommendations.

“After taking office back in June, we took steps to strengthen the safeguarding of vulnerable adults in Staffordshire. This included taking back responsibility and relaunching the failing Local Involvement Network ““ Staffordshire LINKs. This gives local people a stronger voice in how health and social care services are delivered. I have also appointed a new independent chair of the safeguarding board who reports directly to me.

“Taking account of today’s report, I now urge the Staffordshire Health Scrutiny Committee to strengthen their role in ensuring a tragedy of this scale can never happen again.”