NHS   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

Bill Reed

The six south west London CCGs – statutory NHS bodies responsible for the planning and paying for healthcare services for their local area – recently held a joint meeting.

Far from discussing the crisis in the health service, with its scheduled funding cuts, and how they would combat this, the highlight of their discussion was a debate on what angle your ears must stick out before you qualified for surgery on them!

One more serious item was the necessity for hip pain to be ‘severe’ (‘moderate’ would not be enough) before you would qualify for hip replacement!

Meanwhile, plans to close one or more A&E departments, at St Helier or Epsom (or both!) hospitals have been announced by the hospital trust. As purse holders, the CCGs are responsible for this sort of decision.

Socialist Party member Pauline Gorman asked why CCGs were not involved in campaigns against health cuts and hospital closures instead of discussing backdoor cuts through standardisation. Long-standing campaigners in the audience also questioned the impartiality of the CCG members, some of who also work in the private sector. But this is not part of the health professionals’ agenda.

The list of ‘accepted’ procedures (cuts in service) also look like a statement of basic delivery options, on the US model, for a privately contracted company to deliver to the NHS in the future.

The NHS is on the brink of total privatisation but it has overwhelming public support. NHS workers, local councillors and residents, must be mobilised in campaigns and the Labour Party must be held to its promise, to reverse all the different areas of privatisation and outsourcing.