After the battle of Waterloo, the Duke of Wellington is famously said to have remarked that it was won on the playing fields of Eton.
Well, all I can think of is if Wellington had had to rely on today’s Old Etonians, he would have wept.
NHS patients badly need a Second Opinion on the Health Bill
But we won’t get it
Old Etonian David Cameron gave a wishy-washy speach about Coalition plans for the NHS, proving that the expensive ‘listening consultation’, started a month ago to appease public anger, had been a politicial exercise. Designed to shut us up and keep us quiet, it was ‘listening’ without actually having to promise anything.
Meanwhile, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, where this exercise started, splashed outlast week on a massive self-promotion banner, costing £600.
Waving above the hospital Atrium, it cast a sour shadow over cuts are already biting when it comes to patients’ treatment.
So what next?
Thousands of people are rightly worried, and are taking five minutes to add to an effective petition started by 38 Degrees. Founder David Babbs says “we need to decide quickly what we should do next”. The media are watching this organisation – and it definitely kick started the process that bought people’s attention to what was happening.
David wants your help – just complete their 5 minute “NHS what next” poll? http://www.38degrees.org.uk/NHS-what-next
‘Listened and engaged’
If you want any reminders of what Cameron was proposing, during his recent speech on the NHS he said he would support a number of important changes to the proposals:
- Doctors and nurses will be involved in new consortia planning and buying care, not just GPs
- These groups will only take responsibility when they are ready, not by April 2013 as previously envisaged
- New “clinical senates” consisting of senior medical professionals will oversee integration of NHS services across local areas
- NHS economic watchdog, Monitor, will have a duty to promote integration of care across an area
- Greater competition will only be introduced when it benefits patient care and choice
- Where are Patients in all of this?
- What about having/paying for efficient business executives to oversee contracts, so contractors can’t pull wool over eyes of amateur ‘senior professionals’
- Monitor is another new Government quango/department which taxpayers will have to fund
- At the end is one of few times Patients are mentioned
In his speech, Cameron was loud on repeating what he had been told when talking to doctors and professionals – but quiet about what patients said; probably because patients were badly looked after at these meetings, and found it difficult to put across their points.
He said nothing about what was actually going to happen.
For those of us in areas where the new Health Bill proposals are already biting, we know what is coming. For those of us lucky to have a well-organised NHS, there are problems to come.
The only ‘new’ idea seems to be an emphasis on introducing doctors and nurses into commissioning – but no mention of Patients wanting to be included. At the Consultations I attended, this came over loud and clear that Patients want to be involved.
And, proving politicians don’t know how to save money, there is to be a new Health and Wellbeing Board set up – wonder how much that is going to cost, and what Chief Executive will be paid?
Cameron ended his speech by a tear-jerking reminder of the NHS treating everyone who came through its doors for free – but there was no mention about improving standards, so when we came through these doors we could be reassured we were getting best medical care available.
Nothing about realities: post-code lotteries; lost notes; getting rid of neglect and abuse of elderly patients; genuine choice if patients wanted to have a second opinion, etc.
And, unless we make our feelings very clear in the next week to MPs, patients will be side-lined yet again. The declaration “no decision about me without me” will be mouthed over our beds, but no ‘professional’ will have any obligation to actually ensure we are consulted and asked what WE want.
Two Tier System
However, like it or not, it seems that Cameron, Lansley etc. are going to end up with a two-tier NHS.
The 2013 deadline for GP consortia to sign up to be commissioners will be scrapped, so consortia will only go ahead when ‘GPs are good and ready’.
However, Lansley has said that he does not want the deadline removed, and consistently argued that to allow GPs to opt in or out would create a “two-tier” health service, similar to what happened with GP fundholding in the 1990s. He believes two systems would hurt care and efficiency.
Now, the only question for patients is whether you are better registered to a GP practice OUT or IN a GP consortium.