Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/738/15545
Stop health robbery in Sherwood Forest
Two weeks after Sherwood Forest Hospitals Trust's financial crisis threatened it could run out of cash by January, it emerged that 120 breast cancer test errors occurred between 2004 and 2010. This is causing great anxiety to the women affected and their families.
Hospital pathology services have been subject to big changes since Lord Carter's 2006 report - under the Labour government.
This private health company boss recommended moving from hospital-based laboratories to regional labs, which private companies could bid to run.
Last month, bids went in to run community pathology services across the Midlands - a contract worth £300 million.
These blood tests are mostly automated and profitable, so hospitals use them to subsidise complex tests, like cancer diagnosis. Without routine high volume work, hospital laboratories become 'uneconomic'.
Sherwood Forest has paid Unipart over £1 million consultancy fees, introducing "lean" work practices, cutting out 'waste'.
But ever-increasing 'productivity' - more work from fewer people - is incompatible with a caring health service.
Health workers face intolerable pressures as patients and treatments become a production-line, with no time to provide individual attention as every patient - or laboratory test - should have.
Add to this, 20% less funding that the Tory/Lib government is providing for pathology services by 2015; £20 billion cuts (given the fancy name 'efficiency savings') across the NHS; the enormous financial pressure of Sherwood Forest Hospitals' unsustainable PFI payments.
Add on also the Modernising Scientific Careers project, changing the way medical laboratory scientists work, of which Kings Mill has been an early adopter - and we can see just some of the pressures building up in the laboratory.
There needs to be a local inquiry by health workers' trade unions, patients and community representatives.
The financial books should be opened so we can see where our money has been spent and where private profit is putting more patient's health at risk.
In The Socialist 17 October 2012:
Fighting the cuts
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party reports and campaigns
Socialist Party workplace news
The Socialist Party