Local GPs sitting on controversial 'clinical commissioning groups' have betrayed their patients by voting unanimously to close the Huddersfield Royal Infirmary. So what can we learn from this fiasco?
The proposed closure of Huddersfield Royal Infirmary (HRI) has brought home just how important it is we now concentrate on NHS England's 'STP' plans to introduce a U.S. style private healthcare insurance system in England.
GP-led Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs)On Thursday this week the joint Huddersfield and Calderdale CCGs unanimously approved plans to close HRI A&E followed by demolishing HRI altogether and building another hospital (with NO A&E) on an adjacent site.
All this was done under the local STP plan titled 'Right Time Right Care Right Place'.
The consultation was a sham, with the CCGs basically ignoring 19 recommemendations put to them by the council Health scrutiny committee. The disgrace continued when a survey revealed 67% of those consulted didn't agree with the plans. Yet the GPs on both CCGs historically voted to remove vital local life-saving emergency services for their patients.
It's not comforting either when the Preston MP claimed these type of reconfigurations were 'pie in the sky'. I recall this sort of talk before from parliamentarians and with bluff called the exact happened with said MPs claiming to be astonished with the decisions. I don't trust em.
There seems to be more and more opposition to CCGs wielding so much power over such crucial NHS services, and rightly so. There was always bound to be many conflicts of interest with GPs on these CCGs awarding themselves contracts with other interests going 'undeclared'.
Relationships between Doctor and patient have certainly soured since the advent of CCGs.
"For some [GPs], to be blunt, the blatant systemic conflict of interest in providing services that they would themselves commission was embraced as an opportunity for personal enrichment. Greed was the spur. They were in a minority but they had disproportionate influence because they were pro-market and pro-GP commissioning and so had the government’s ear".
"It would be interesting to know how much gold had been promised to stuff in the insatiable mouths of certain doctors. The rewards would come quickly. A survey in Pulse – the GPs’ magazine – reported that by December 2012 over one-fifth of board members on clinical commissioning groups had financial interests in private health care providers; the BMJ put the number at more than one-third in March 2013.6 Things are looking good for Dr Fat Cat".
Above two paragraphs kindly reproduced from the book NHS SOS by Tallis, published 2013.
Back over at HRI, the plan to remove A&E from hospital surroundings is part of the 5 year forward view. The Private healthcare sector's primary objective is to separate out the more lucrative high turnover, low-risk unplanned services from hospitals. These will then be consolidated into smaller clinics called 'Multi-Speciality Provider' clinics (MSPs) as per the American Health Maintenance Organisation (HMO) model.
These clinics have been trialed over here in England a while back and were named Darzi clinics or Polyclinics etc. They were in effect 12% more expensive per patient, ideal money spinners for the private sector but a great loss for NHS tariffs.
*A previous Netcare contract for these clinics showed 39% of patients, for whatever reason, didn't receive treatment, yet NetCare collected £35m for work never undertaken.
The demolition of HRI also satisifes the STP criteria for releasing estate and introducing personal health budgets for chronic conditions via the MSPs.
Most CCGs are guided by committee officers who, ironically, are also allowed to vote on the NHS England policies they are recommending!
Many of these 'officers' are even ex employees of private health policy advisory consultancy firms such as KPMG, McKinsey or think-tanks such as the King's fund. No wonder HRI campaigners are angry, we have all well and truly been stitched up by those we thought we could trust, our GPs.
It seems the involvement of GPs on CCGs has been mostly limited to a group of willing ‘reformers’, many with an eye to potential personal gain and increased local influence available under the new scheme. Over at Chorley & South Ribble CCG, the basic pay for the Chairperson is £120,000 p.a.
A disgraceful amount considering the same position on the previous Primary Care Trusts was £15,000 p.a.
CCGs report to, and are manipulated by a body calling itself 'NHS England'.
It's CEO 'Simon Stevens' is ex vice president of U.S. based 'UnitedHealth', the largest private healthcare insurer in the world.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out that CCGs are therefore implementing the U.S. privatisation model throughout the NHS in England.So what can be done to stop the onslaught against our NHS under these STP plans?
The 44 regions in England, inaptly titled 'footprints' by Steven's mob are all ear-marked for privatisation. And the consultation for most footprints hasn't even begun yet.
But stop it we must. And as Hands Off HRI campaigners have now said, the gloves are off, the fight is not over.
Chorley & South Ribble campaigners are fully behind the Hands off HRI campaigners as we're all aware whats happening affects not just Calderdale or Huddersfield but the whole of England.
A storm is gathering, we need to be prepared to support each other and ensure our NHS remains intact...