Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/620/9358
News in brief
LABOUR'S ELECTION manifesto pledges that every hospital will become a foundation trust by 2015, which will allow local health managers to run their own affairs. This part-privatisation measure, on top of Labour's other market-oriented policies in the NHS, should set alarm bells ringing among the public.
A recent report into Mid Staffordshire foundation hospital identified "shocking" systematic failures in providing care to patients. Between 400 and 1,200 more people died at the hospital than at any other hospital between 2005 and 2008. The failings at Mid Staffs were due to the trust board being more concerned with cost cutting, targets and achieving foundation status, than looking after patients. 150 jobs were axed in order to cut costs. Managers reportedly intimidated staff to prevent any whistle-blowing.
Basildon hospital which also had an unusually high death rate among patients is likewise, a foundation hospital. A damning report into the Essex hospital identified appalling standards of hygiene.
Last week, London Health Emergency obtained details of £9 million cuts in mental health provision by East London NHS Foundation Trust. These include cuts in front-line nursing staff on acute wards. The changes could put the safety of both staff and patients at risk.
AS OVERWORKED health workers continue to struggle on a below inflation pay deal, NHS chiefs are enjoying inflation busting salary rises - taking them to an average of over £150,000 a year.
These are the same mangers who are talking of cutting costs in the NHS by £20 billion over the next five years!
The highest paid NHS executive is Ron Kerr from Guy's hospital in south London, who 'earned' £270,000. It also appears that NHS managers in foundation hospitals earn around £10,000 a year more than their counterparts in non-foundation trusts.
THE GOVERNMENT-LED 'reconfiguration of health services' is political jargon for closing critical care facilities in hospitals and replacing them with minor injury treatment centres or 'polyclinics'.
A King's Fund report suggested that polyclinics could pose 'significant risks for patient care'. It also found that "there is... evidence that quality [of care] may be decreased in certain cases." The British Medical Association advised that the government should "dump the polyclinic plan".
But polyclinics appear to be good news for the private health companies who are set to take over the running of the GP services in the London borough of Redbridge's only polyclinic, which opened last year. The polyclinic's opening coincided with health bosses' attempts to 'downgrade' (ie close) the A&E department at the local King George's hospital.
NHS Redbridge has signed a 25-year rental agreement with the developers Loxford Complex Ltd at a cost of £1 million a year. And Practice plc has signed a deal to run the GP services.
In The Socialist 14 April 2010:
Socialist Party manifesto 2010
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party workplace news
Socialist Party election campaign
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party features