HSJ announces areas where cuts could come after Election

The NHS has had to come up with proposed cuts to some services and medicines.                               Recently it has announced new cost-cutting measures, ranging from letting patients buy their own Paracetamol (at 49p a go), to curbing IVF treatment.

Even my local Foundation Hospital, “star” of many photo opportunities when politicians want a ‘medical’ photo opportunity, now unashamely asks patients “do you have private insurance? when talking about next steps in treatment.

What might be cut

Reading the Health Service Journal (HSJ) and other industry sources,

Proposals are
>> Dumping the NHS Constitution; extending waiting times. (Patients see this happening now).
>> Closing or downgrading A&E and maternity services  (Is yours one of those threatened?)
>> Closing theatres and wards and cutting staff. (That’s why no-one answers when Gran rings her bell).
>> Focussing on the ‘winter response’. (Which is extending to all-year-round).
>> Dumping NICE recommendations for adopting new stuff and stop funding ‘low-value’ treatments.
>> Crossing items off the prescription lists.
>> Flogging-off bits of the estate.

Will this affect me?

Almost certainly,

When you are next taken ill, you will be faced with the choice of

  • having to go privately
  • be prepared to make an enormous fuss (and then maybe not get anywhere)
  • or put up, shut up and wait.
  • I already report elsewhere how my GP over-rode treatment recommended for cancer investigation, forcing me to go privately as I am not going to wait until September to find out if moles are cancerous – particularly when a doctor trained at Sweden’s Karolinsk cancer institute says they are highly suspicious.

Fellow patients report extended waiting times – or not even being given a date for a procedure.  This is ‘playing the system’:  you wait and wait, then evntually are given a date which is now within the 18 week guidelines.  If you complain you are told that you are being seen correctly (NHS doesn’t take into account time when you were in limbo waiting for an appointment).

If you have any of the following on prescription you may find you now have to pay:

  • Gluten-free foods
  • Travel vaccines
  • Omega-3 and fish oils
  • Doxazosin
  • Fentanyl
  • Some muscle rubs
  • Liothyronine
  • Tadalifil
  • Lidocaine plasters
  • Sunscrean (Thanks a bunch – when we are told that survivors are more likely to get skin cancers)

But whether the cuts are what patients want, or there will be massive demonstrations against them, remains to be seen. I would have thought it sensible that to invite patient reps. such as the Patients’ Association, to sit round a table and vote, before announcing them, would have been a good idea.  However, the NHS has announced new cost-cutting measures, ranging from letting patients buy their own Paracetamol (at 49p a go), to curbing IVF treatment.

Has anyone consulted you?

Patients have long complained that waste in the NHS is on a massive scale, and this week Dr. Max Pemberton came out in the Daily Mail agreeing with us.  For instance, he pointed out the huge waste with equipment such as crutches which the NHS refuses to re-cycle, saying “for Doctors like me…. the profligacy we witness on a daily basis is heartbreaking”.

Overseas visitors

There has been a lot of talk recently about EU citizens being made to pay for treatment, or staff asking for their EHIC cards so that their country will reimburse the NHS.  But it’s NOT EU nationals clogging up waiting rooms, it’s those outside the EU who are having babies here etc.  Of those mentioned in the recent “Hospital” TV series, not one patient owing the NHS hundreds of thousands of pounds came from an EU country.  So EVERYONE who isn’t resident in the UK needs to pay, and be charged.

Politicians can spout as much as they like about ‘charging the EU’, but that’s not going to sort out the problem.  When other countries charge for everything, including A & E, why are we the mugs who say it’s free for everyone?  No wonder some people say the NHS is the envy of the world – when the world can come here for free medical treatment.

What’s next?

A lot of people are going to be jumping up and down when they realise their alternative therapy is no longer funded.  Prince Charles isn’t going to like it, but Simon Stevens, boss of the NHS, has said they should stop funding Homeopathy.

Accupuncture is another service that is threatened, unless its devotees can produce Clinical evidence, backed up by trials, to show it does produce results.

Management Consultants

It is about time the Dept. Health got rid of its stable of Management Consultants.  Many of them are American companies, who have no idea of realities of life in Britain.  One I was involved with eventually produced My Care, My Way.

A whole year was wasted, at vast expense, discussing what patients would want.  Suggestions from the Patient Reps were ignored, and the Americans ploughed on.  Eventually, a Manager was appointed and the scheme started.  Within a few days the Manager (sensible woman) had realised the set-up wasn’t going to work, and started to change things from the name (the Americans had said it was to be called Whole Systems!) to how it was to deliver.

It is now working extremely well, as all the suggestions that were made by the Patient Reps (and slapped down by the Americans), have now been put in place.  But if Reps had been listened to in the first place, a year of expensive consultation would have been short cut, and an expensive re-printing of all the literature with new name and logo would have been avoided.

Future

Realistically, cuts are going to go on.  Hunt has already announced funding for the NHS next year is being reduced by 0.6%.  This may not sound a big deal, but when the budget is talking about Billions, believe me – it will make a difference to your healthcare.

If any of the medications you take are threatened, make a FUSS now – get hold of your MP, and anyone else you can think of.  Patient Power can work wonders!

 

 

 

 

Patients recover best in their own homes.

Prevent bed blocking.

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