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From The Socialist newspaper, 17 April 2013

Defend our health service

NHS cost-cutting is damaging patient care

Karen Seymour, Mansfield Socialist Party
NHS demonstration to save the Whittington hospital in north London,16 March 2013 , photo Paul Mattsson

NHS demonstration to save the Whittington hospital in north London,16 March 2013 , photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge)

Last autumn it emerged that 120 breast cancer test errors had happened between 2004 and 2010 at Kings Mill Hospital in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire. This caused great anxiety to the women affected and their families.

Now a new report concludes that "decision making was finance driven, with too little attention given to clinical considerations." The Care Quality Commission lists factors leading to the Kings Mill test failures:

The report concludes that "a patient-safety, risk-management approach to clinical services issues should replace the cost-based approach."

But exactly the opposite is happening across the NHS. The massive 20 billion 'efficiency improvements' - started under the last Labour government - is the background to the Kings Mill managers "cost-cutting culture". This government is allocating 20% less funding for pathology services by 2015.

Big business

Hospital pathology services have seen big changes since Lord Carter's 2006 report (under Labour). This private health company boss recommended moving from hospital-based to regional laboratories, which private companies could bid to run.

Tenders are now being examined for community pathology services right 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' but big business just wants to cream off easy profits.

Kings Mill was an early adopter of the Modernising Scientific Careers project, changing how medical laboratory scientists work.

There is also enormous financial pressure from unsustainable PFI payments, such as Kings Mill's.

Mansfield Socialist Party members call for an inquiry by health workers' trade unions, patients and community representatives.

The financial books should be opened so we can see where our money is spent and where private profit is putting more patient's health at risk.

New, sweeping NHS changes will result in more tragic and avoidable cases where cuts, 'business culture' and privatisation cost lives.

New evidence has emerged using the Freedom of Information act which shows that the government's drive to make all NHS hospitals achieve self-governing Foundation Trust (FT) status by 2014 will benefit private medical practice at the expense of NHS patients.

Under the Health and Social Care Act, which became law on 1 April, the 2% cap on doing private medicine in NHS hospitals has been raised to 49%.

As FT hospitals have to compete with one another for income, a higher rate tariff on private patients could result in NHS patients going to the back of the queue.

So far 40 FT hospitals plan to open private patient units.

Initiated by the last Labour government, FTs - which aren't accountable to the health secretary - represent another nail in the coffin of the National Health Service.

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In The Socialist 17 April 2013:

Socialist Party news and analysis

NUS conference votes against free education and EMA

Class survey diverts focus away from power of working class to change society

Widespread caste discrimination ignored in the UK

Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Doncaster: fighting for a working class mayor on a workers' wage

Maltby pit closure: TUSC councillor speaks out

Ineffectual Ed visits South West

Warrington council rebel builds fight against cuts

Meeting and exhibition marking 30 years since the election of Liverpool's socialist council

Letters to The Socialist

Socialist Party feature

We can beat bedroom tax

Thatcher funeral

Thatcher's funeral costs: Insulting the lives she ruined

Thatcher... and us

Support the paper that beat Thatcher - twice!

Socialist Party NHS campaign

NHS cost-cutting is damaging patient care

New phase of campaign against Dewsbury NHS cuts

Welsh NHS cuts - no change of heart from Labour

Socialist Party workplace feature

Time to name the day for a 24-hour general strike

We say to the TUC: Time to fight back

International socialist news and analysis

Brutal Saudi regime supported by UK government

Socialist Party workplace news

Unison health conference: Time to fight back against attacks

Unison elections: Vote for Socialist Party and Reclaim the Union candidates

Thera workers on strike

In Brief


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