The Conservatives’ NHS Lies

Tribune Magazine 26/11/2019

From nurses to hospitals to overall investment, every major health pledge the Tories have made in this election campaign can be shown to be a lie. They can’t be trusted with the NHS.

The limp and reactionary Conservative manifesto threatens the UK population with, at best, five years of post-Brexit stagnation and decline or, at worst, the disaster of a No-Deal exit by the end of 2020.

In a token effort to reach out to the millions of Tories who did not (or now no longer) support Brexit, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings have thrown in what they hope will be a couple of catchy promises in relation to England’s NHS.

  • “6,000 more doctors in general practice and 6,000 more primary care professionals, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists”
  • “An end to unfair hospital car parking charges by making parking free for those in greatest need”
  • “50,000 more nurses, with students receiving a £5,000-£8,000 annual maintenance grant”

These promises, of course, follow on previous equally spurious ones – the £1.8 billion of “new money” for repairs, most of which wasn’t new; the “fake forty” promise of “new hospitals”, when the real figure is six, several of which are rebuilds, with decisions on the others not due until at least 2025; and claims to be spending “record amounts” and £33.9 billion extra by 2024, when the real terms increase is just £20.5 billion, after nine years of virtually frozen funding.

The promise of 6,000 extra doctors (with the related promise of 50 million more appointments each year) –  points to a long-standing failure of governments since 2015 to deliver on Jeremy Hunt’s infamous promise of an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020. In fact, GP numbers have fallen by 1,000 in the past five years, while waits have increased.

Earlier this year a BMA report showed that the number of patients waiting over two weeks for an appointment with their GP was up by 13% compared to the same months in 2018. Appointments with a wait of over 28 days were up 15% on the previous year.

The promise of 6,000 GPs had already been made by Matt Hancock – and exposed by Pulse magazine as another misleading claim, including 3,000 trainees in the total along with just 3,000 qualified GPs. Perhaps that’s why Johnson’s manifesto is careful only to promise “more doctors in general practice” rather than GPs.

There has been little focus on the linked promise of another 6,000 primary care professionals: there is no plan to recruit or train them, and no extra budget to pay them. This is already set to be another broken promise.

So what of the manifesto commitment to scrap fees for parking at English NHS hospitals, billed by the Sunday Telegraph as axing charges for “millions”?

It’s another con. The Daily Mirror was the first to look closer at the wording, and show that the promise is to make parking free only for those “in greatest need”. So unless you are disabled, a “frequent” outpatient attender, a parent of a sick child staying overnight or a night shift NHS worker you will still have to fork out: the majority of staff, outpatients and almost all hospital visitors will still have to pay.

In Wales these charges were axed from 2008, and the Scottish parliament followed suit in 2009. It’s only in England and Northern Ireland we still have to pay. But with recent NHS policies pushing towards more downgrades and closures of local hospital services and “centralisation” of specialist and emergency care – alongside the continued run-down of privatised bus routes – the need for adequate parking is vital for patients and staff alike.

Many of the staff affected are of course nurses, who face not only stiff parking charges but a desperate shortage of parking space as an added pressure, on top of the increasing levels of stress they face in the workplace as a result of 40,000 unfilled nursing posts.

The promise of 50,000 “more nurses” has become the latest Tory untruth about the NHS to break through in the election debate. It was swiftly debunked, by the Guardian and Independent, by Nursing Notes and by Full Fact, which argued that with the latest figures showing 39,500 nursing posts vacant, an extra 50,000 would increase numbers by just 10,000. Even by the Daily Mail called out the government on the figures.

The Independent pointed out that at most 31,500 of the 50,000 would be “extra” nurses. “The 50,000 figure includes an estimated 18,500 existing nurses,” it revealed, “who will be encouraged to remain within the NHS or attracted back after leaving by new measures to improve career development opportunities.”

Nicky Morgan was sent to defend the claim on Good Morning Britain and was ridiculed on the “nonsense pledge” by Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid. During that interview we found out, through research by The Independent, that the plan includes “14,000 new nursing training places … as well as 5,000 more nursing apprentices and 12,500 recruits from abroad.”

So 19,000 of the 50,000 ‘nurses’ would not be qualified staff but students – after a U-turn in reversing the Cameron government’s decision to axe the NHS bursary.

The viability of recruiting so many overseas nurses is in serious doubt, especially given the huge drop in recruitment from EU countries since the Brexit vote, and the continuation of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” in new, brutal immigration policies unveiled by the Johnson government which effectively erect a giant neon “Piss Off” sign to deter overseas doctors and nurses.

The pitiful concession of a “half price” NHS visa, still costing £464, for staff coming here (a new cost after Brexit for EU staff who could come for nothing) is coupled with a projected further hike in the “immigration health surcharge” from £400 to £625 per person per year if a re-elected Johnson government fulfils its promise to Daily Mail readers to “get tough on post Brexit migrants”. These discriminatory charges have to be paid in addition to regular UK taxes by any staff who do decide to come.

Full Fact has also raised doubts over the minimal £879 million allocated to funding the extra nursing staff and reinstating the bursary. They argue that the full cost of employing 50,000 Band 5 nurses could be as high as £2.6 billion per year. But that assumes there would be anything like 50,000 extra staff to pay.

It’s clear the Johnson promises are not worth the paper they are printed on. Once more this winter we will see the irony of elderly Tory voters on trolleys in rural and city hospitals waiting for beds and treatment that have been cut back by the party they voted for.

After nine years of Tory-led governments running down the NHS, driving trusts into deficit, fragmenting and privatising services have left performance targets plummeting – and the looming threat of our NHS being carved up by Donald Trump in a post-Brexit trade deal, it’s time for a change.

Wealthy US donors gave millions to rightwing UK groups – including the John Templeton Foundation, which gave $497,000 to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), for research on alternatives to the NHS for an ageing population

‘Guardian’ 29 November 2019.

Revelations raise questions about influence of foreign funding on British politics

Eleven wealthy American donors who have given a total of more than $3.7m (£2.86m) to rightwing UK groups in the past five years have been identified, raising questions about the influence of foreign funding on British politics.

The donations have been given to four British thinktanks that have been vocal in the debate about Brexit and the shape of the UK’s future trade with the EU, and an organisation that claims to be an independent grassroots campaign representing ordinary British taxpayers.

Many of the donors have also given significant sums of money to a series of like-minded American groups which, like the British organisations, promote a free market agenda of low tax, lightly regulated business and privatisation of public services.

Critics allege that the British groups, which include the Institute of Economic Affairs, Policy Exchange and the Adam Smith Institute, have not been fully transparent about who funds them.

Although some donations are made public, the groups have a general policy of not disclosing their donors, saying they respect their supporters’ right to privacy unless the backers wish otherwise.

The Guardian has compiled a partial list of American donors to the British groups since 2014 by analysing thousands of pages of US tax filings that have been published, and other public declarations. The most recent available year for these filings is 2017.

The donors include foundations funded by the wealth of businessmen who made their money from finance, such as the Chase Foundation of Virginia and the Rosenkranz Foundation, and other businesses such as lubricating oils and glue.

The five British groups and their supporters have raised at least $6.8m in the past five years from US benefactors. However, the identities of many donors remain unknown because their donations cannot be traced in public records.

The largest visible donations, amounting to $3.3m, have been given to three British groups by foundations funded by the wealth of an ultra-conservative US billionaire financier, Sir John Templeton, who died in 2008.

One of the Templeton foundations last year gave a donation worth $1.5m to the Legatum Institute. Legatum said the foundation supported its research on the impact of economic openness on global growth and prosperity.

The thinktank said the donation, which runs out in 2021, had been made public on its website and in other publications, adding that it has “a strong policy of maintaining intellectual independence over all of our research programmes”.

Legatum was required last year by the Charity Commission to remove from its website a report advocating a hard Brexit, which was judged to be too partisan. Charities are required by law to be politically neutral. It stopped its work on Brexit last year.

The Adam Smith Institute has been one of a group of influential rightwing thinktanks credited with kickstarting some of the most controversial privatisations of the Thatcher and Major governments. It received donations from four other US donors.

The John Templeton Foundation also gave $497,000 to the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), another prominent British thinktank, between 2014 and 2017.

The money has been given to researching alternatives to the NHS for an ageing population and to fund work on inspiring young people to become supporters of free markets, according to the foundation.

Andy Mayer, the IEA’s chief operating officer, said: “In any year around 5-10% of our income comes from the US (most of the rest from the UK).” The IEA’s annual income is around £2.5m. It has raised donations from American backers for two decades.

Mayer added that the IEA “is very happy and grateful to be part-funded by American institutes and American citizens who share our values, and whose extraordinary generosity supports our programmes”. Six other US donors to the IEA have been identified.

In February the Charity Commission gave the IEA a formal warning over its failure to be balanced and neutral in a report calling for a hard Brexit. The warning was later withdrawn and the report has since been edited and republished. The original report had been endorsed by prominent pro-Brexit Conservative MPs, including the former Brexit secretary David Davis and Jacob Rees-Mogg.

Investigators from the environmental group Greenpeace last year covertly recorded the head of a US libertarian thinktank saying his group was planning to raise money to give to the IEA to campaign on Brexit. The head of the thinktank said his organisation was planning to raise between $250,000 and $400,000 to campaign on Brexit, most of which it would “ship over to the UK”.

The IEA said at the time that it had not received any cash from US businesses in relation to its work on trade and Brexit, and it did not recognise the sums of money being suggested by the Oklahoma-based thinktank, the E Foundation.

foundation run by the family of Vernon Krieble, a US businessman who developed a brand of glue, donated $60,000 to the UK TaxPayers’ Alliance.

The alliance describes itself as an “independent grassroots campaign” that represents “ordinary taxpayers fed up with government waste, increasing taxation, and a lack of transparency in all levels of government”.

John O’Connell, the chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “At the last count, the average value of over 20,000 donations to the TPA was £548, with less than 1% from corporate sources. We’re proud of our independence and wouldn’t accept money with a condition of controlling what we say – for instance, if a group of communists wanted to give us a fortune to promote communism we would obviously not accept it.”

Policy Exchange did not respond when asked to comment.

The Tories’ NHS Lies

Tribune Magazine 26/11/2019

From nurses to hospitals to overall investment, every major health pledge the Tories have made in this election campaign can be shown to be a lie. They can’t be trusted with the NHS.

The limp and reactionary Conservative manifesto threatens the UK population with, at best, five years of post-Brexit stagnation and decline or, at worst, the disaster of a No-Deal exit by the end of 2020.

In a token effort to reach out to the millions of Tories who did not (or now no longer) support Brexit, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings have thrown in what they hope will be a couple of catchy promises in relation to England’s NHS.

  • “6,000 more doctors in general practice and 6,000 more primary care professionals, such as physiotherapists and pharmacists”
  • “An end to unfair hospital car parking charges by making parking free for those in greatest need”
  • “50,000 more nurses, with students receiving a £5,000-£8,000 annual maintenance grant”

These promises, of course, follow on previous equally spurious ones – the £1.8 billion of “new money” for repairs, most of which wasn’t new; the “fake forty” promise of “new hospitals”, when the real figure is six, several of which are rebuilds, with decisions on the others not due until at least 2025; and claims to be spending “record amounts” and £33.9 billion extra by 2024, when the real terms increase is just £20.5 billion, after nine years of virtually frozen funding.

The promise of 6,000 extra doctors (with the related promise of 50 million more appointments each year) –  points to a long-standing failure of governments since 2015 to deliver on Jeremy Hunt’s infamous promise of an extra 5,000 GPs by 2020. In fact, GP numbers have fallen by 1,000 in the past five years, while waits have increased.

Earlier this year a BMA report showed that the number of patients waiting over two weeks for an appointment with their GP was up by 13% compared to the same months in 2018. Appointments with a wait of over 28 days were up 15% on the previous year.

The promise of 6,000 GPs had already been made by Matt Hancock – and exposed by Pulse magazine as another misleading claim, including 3,000 trainees in the total along with just 3,000 qualified GPs. Perhaps that’s why Johnson’s manifesto is careful only to promise “more doctors in general practice” rather than GPs.

There has been little focus on the linked promise of another 6,000 primary care professionals: there is no plan to recruit or train them, and no extra budget to pay them. This is already set to be another broken promise.

So what of the manifesto commitment to scrap fees for parking at English NHS hospitals, billed by the Sunday Telegraph as axing charges for “millions”?

It’s another con. The Daily Mirror was the first to look closer at the wording, and show that the promise is to make parking free only for those “in greatest need”. So unless you are disabled, a “frequent” outpatient attender, a parent of a sick child staying overnight or a night shift NHS worker you will still have to fork out: the majority of staff, outpatients and almost all hospital visitors will still have to pay.

In Wales these charges were axed from 2008, and the Scottish parliament followed suit in 2009. It’s only in England and Northern Ireland we still have to pay. But with recent NHS policies pushing towards more downgrades and closures of local hospital services and “centralisation” of specialist and emergency care – alongside the continued run-down of privatised bus routes – the need for adequate parking is vital for patients and staff alike.

Many of the staff affected are of course nurses, who face not only stiff parking charges but a desperate shortage of parking space as an added pressure, on top of the increasing levels of stress they face in the workplace as a result of 40,000 unfilled nursing posts.

The promise of 50,000 “more nurses” has become the latest Tory untruth about the NHS to break through in the election debate. It was swiftly debunked, by the Guardian and Independent, by Nursing Notes and by Full Fact, which argued that with the latest figures showing 39,500 nursing posts vacant, an extra 50,000 would increase numbers by just 10,000. Even by the Daily Mail called out the government on the figures.

The Independent pointed out that at most 31,500 of the 50,000 would be “extra” nurses. “The 50,000 figure includes an estimated 18,500 existing nurses,” it revealed, “who will be encouraged to remain within the NHS or attracted back after leaving by new measures to improve career development opportunities.”

Nicky Morgan was sent to defend the claim on Good Morning Britain and was ridiculed on the “nonsense pledge” by Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid. During that interview we found out, through research by The Independent, that the plan includes “14,000 new nursing training places … as well as 5,000 more nursing apprentices and 12,500 recruits from abroad.”

So 19,000 of the 50,000 ‘nurses’ would not be qualified staff but students – after a U-turn in reversing the Cameron government’s decision to axe the NHS bursary.

The viability of recruiting so many overseas nurses is in serious doubt, especially given the huge drop in recruitment from EU countries since the Brexit vote, and the continuation of Theresa May’s “hostile environment” in new, brutal immigration policies unveiled by the Johnson government which effectively erect a giant neon “Piss Off” sign to deter overseas doctors and nurses.

The pitiful concession of a “half price” NHS visa, still costing £464, for staff coming here (a new cost after Brexit for EU staff who could come for nothing) is coupled with a projected further hike in the “immigration health surcharge” from £400 to £625 per person per year if a re-elected Johnson government fulfils its promise to Daily Mail readers to “get tough on post Brexit migrants”. These discriminatory charges have to be paid in addition to regular UK taxes by any staff who do decide to come.

Full Fact has also raised doubts over the minimal £879 million allocated to funding the extra nursing staff and reinstating the bursary. They argue that the full cost of employing 50,000 Band 5 nurses could be as high as £2.6 billion per year. But that assumes there would be anything like 50,000 extra staff to pay.

It’s clear the Johnson promises are not worth the paper they are printed on. Once more this winter we will see the irony of elderly Tory voters on trolleys in rural and city hospitals waiting for beds and treatment that have been cut back by the party they voted for.

After nine years of Tory-led governments running down the NHS, driving trusts into deficit, fragmenting and privatising services have left performance targets plummeting – and the looming threat of our NHS being carved up by Donald Trump in a post-Brexit trade deal, it’s time for a change.

……..

See ‘Independent’ link to a fantastic opinion piece that our own (KONP) Dr Jacky Davis wrote yesterday for the Independent on the subject of the Conservatives 50,000 extra nurses claim.

The danger of a Tory post-Brexit NHS trade deal with the US.

The Tory candidate for Warwick and Leamington will assure us at the Hustings that the NHS is safe under the Tories telling us Boris Johnson says the NHS will not be part of any US trade deal. But Johnson has lied before and 45% of the British public don’t believe him.

Here is how to challenge him. Mainstream media claim that the Labour Party’s fears that parts of the NHS will be sold to the US as part of any post-Brexit Free Trade Agreement (FTA) are unfounded.

But “free trade” treaties don’t necessarily include specific words like “National Health Service” or “workers’ rights.” Indeed, the lengthy, dense texts often purposefully avoid specifics so that corporate lawyers have enough loopholes to threaten to sue over perceived hindrances to their profits.

US companies already have a hand in running core aspects of the NHS, including supplying IBM computers, Windows operating systems, iPads for nurses and paramedics, Google’s DeepMind analytics, and various pharmaceuticals. Empowered by an FTA, they could soon boost prices, demand national treatment, and see public ownership of the NHS as unfair competition. Don’t believe Trump’s lies.

See more in The London Economic

American corporations are already taking over parts of our health service. See SWKONP Blog UK outsourcing – US corporations expand across NHS mental healthcare. One in eight inpatient beds in England provided by American companies (Financial Time 8th November 2019).

The iniquitous points-based Tory NHS immigration policy which is supposed to attract staff to Britain.

The iniquitous points-based Tory NHS immigration policy which is supposed to attract staff to Britain. But it will a) Still cost £468 for a visa and b) charge the very staff who have come to the UK to run the NHS £400 to use it:

‘The party would introduce a “points-based system” for migrant workers from EU and non-EU countries.

It has yet to spell out in detail how this will work – but it has announced that extra points will be awarded for coming to work in the NHS.

The cost of applying for a visa would also be reduced from £928 to £464 for medical professionals, and they would be guaranteed a decision within two weeks, under Tory plans.

Those granted an NHS visa would also be allowed to pay the annual £400 compulsory health insurance charge out of their salary’.

(BBC) 8th November and Guardian 8th November 2019.

Nine in 10 NHS bosses say staffing crisis endangering patients

In dramatic intervention in election, health chiefs urge parties to avoid false promises

Guardian 18th November 2019

Hospitals are so short of doctors and nurses that patients’ safety and quality of care are under threat, senior NHS leaders have warned in a dramatic intervention in the general election campaign

Nine out of 10 hospital bosses in England fear understaffing across the service has become so severe that patients’ health could be damaged. In addition, almost six in 10 (58%) believe this winter will be the toughest yet for the service.

The views expressed by senior NHS figures on Tuesday will heighten the anxiety in Conservative ranks that the health service’s growing problems risk derailing the party’s campaign in an election members hoped would be dominated by Brexit.

The Labour party is seeking to capitalise on public dissatisfaction over delays in accessing treatment and the increasingly visible gaps in staffing.

In a further sign of Tory concern, ministers have agreed an extraordinary deal for the NHS to pay doctors’ pension tax bills this year, which could cost hundreds of millions of pounds.

The scheme is aimed at halting the sharp recent increase in doctors working fewer shifts in order to avoid being hit with unexpected tax bills of up to £100,000. The trend has forced hospitals to cancel thousands of operating lists and outpatient clinics, while further delaying patients’ access to care and exacerbating staff shortages.

Ministers hope doctors in England – the only country the incentive will apply in – will see it as a green light to resume extra shifts before winter pressures ramp up on the NHS, without having to worry that they will be heavily penalised months later.

However, the deal immediately triggered claims that it has been agreed between ministers and NHS England in defiance of “purdah” rules that stipulate that governments must not undertake changes of policy during an election campaign.

It is being presented as an “operational decision” by NHS England, but was signed off – and some believe instigated – by the Treasury, Cabinet Office and the Department of Health and Social Care.

A senior medical source involved in brokering the unprecedented “stopgap” policy suggested it came about because ministers were “desperate” to avoid fewer shifts by doctors compounding hospitals’ struggles this winter.

The source said: “They have so massively breached purdah regulations it’s unbelievable. This isn’t an operational matter. This is policy. It’s outrageous, because purdah rules say that you can’t announce a change of policy during an election.”

The 131 chief executives, chairs and directors of NHS trusts in England expressed their serious concern about the deteriorating state of the service in a survey conducted by the NHS Confederation.

The findings came days after the latest official figures showed that hospitals’ performance against key waiting times for A&E care, cancer treatment and planned operations had fallen to its worst ever level. However, many service chiefs told the confederation that delays will get even longer when the cold weather creates extra demand for care.

“There is real concern among NHS leaders as winter approaches and this year looks particularly challenging,” said Niall Dickson, the chief executive of the confederation, which represents most NHS bodies, including hospital trusts, in England.

“Health leaders are deeply concerned about its ability to cope with demand, despite frontline staff treating more patients than ever.

“There is the very real prospect of gaps in clinical shifts and patients not receiving the quality of care they need because NHS trusts do not have the staff they need.”

“Despite doing everything within their power, 90% of health leaders we surveyed said that understaffing was putting patients at risk.

“We have 100,000 clinical vacancies [in England] and the prospect of ever-rising demand unless we face up to the scale of the challenge,” added Dickson.

Last week’s figures showed that one in four people who attend a hospital-based A&E are waiting more than four hours to be dealt with, record numbers are having to wait on a trolley while they are found a bed and seven of the eight clinically vital cancer treatment targets are being missed.

Dickson added that, even if the next government provided more money to tackle widespread staff shortages, it would take time to reduce the high vacancy rates that are common in many hospitals. The NHS is short of about 43,000 nurses and almost 10,000 doctors as well as paramedics and other health professionals.

He warned political parties not to raise voters’ expectations unreasonably in the run-up to polling on 12 December about how quickly the NHS can get back on track.

“More investment is needed but even with that this is a system that will take time to turn around and the electorate must not be fed with overpromises over the coming weeks,” he said.

The King’s Fund voiced concern at the results of the research. “Amidst the political rhetoric of the general election campaign, these findings underline the stark reality facing patients across the country who are struggling to access NHS services,” said Sally Warren, the thinktank’s director of policy.

“Workforce shortages are already having a direct impact on the quality of people’s care, with national patient surveys repeatedly highlighting difficulties for patients accessing NHS services and performance against key waiting time targets at their worst in over a decade.

“These NHS leaders are correct – without urgent action patient safety will be at risk.”

The confederation’s survey of 131 hospital bosses also found that:

  • 76% say staff shortages are the NHS’s most pressing problem.
  • 83% say the dispute over senior doctors’ pensions is making understaffing even worse.
  • 69% say doctors deciding to work fewer hours is damaging patient care.
  • 98% say the deepening crisis in social care is leading to more older people needing hospital care.

Stop all NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups’ mergers

STOP CCG Mergers 

The Parliamentary Petition – called by 999CALLFORNHS

99 NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups, that decide on NHS services, are set to merge. More will follow – NHS England wants only one per Integrated Care System. These non-statutory partnerships are cutting hospital services, driving patients to rely on under-resourced “care closer to home”.

Integrated Care Systems have no legal power to make these unpopular moves. Clinical Commissioning Group mergers are a way round this problem. One in each Integrated Care System could take legal responsibility for the “partnership’s” decisions – while overriding local objections to the loss of services.

We demand a halt to the reduction in CCGs and a full public consultation on each merger proposal.

Watch out for the petition – closed early because of General Election SIGN THE PETITION TO STOP CCG MERGERS

WHY WE OPPOSE THE MERGERS

“Extra” NHS funding this year will disappear into paying off the debts accumulated by NHS hospitals and commissioners over years of savage underfunding. Providers are having to borrow from the Department of Health to pay for basics like staff and resources because of this lack of funding. 

Clinical Commissioning Groups, that plan and buy NHS Services, are all focusing on “balancing the books” which simply means meeting the extreme control totals imposed by NHS England. 

One consequence of this is a rash of proposed mergers of the NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.

As many as 8 or 9 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) will merge into one, serving populations of up to 2.2 million.

So far 99 Clinical Commissioning Groups are planning to merge by April 2020, reducing their number to 22, with a further 6 proposing to merge into 2 by April 2021. The mergers are rushing ahead without heeding the legal requirement that Clinical Commissioning Groups must ask individuals to whom they provide health services (the Public) for their opinions on the proposed mergers,  and set out those views and make it clear ‘the extent to which the CCG has taken them into account’. (1) 

(1) http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1631/pdfs/uksi_20121631_en.pdf  Regulations 7 and 9 and Schedule 2 and 3: factors NHSE must take into account before agreeing to mergers or constitutional amendments include ‘The extent to which the CCG has sought the views of individuals to whom any relevant health services are being or may be provided, what those views are, and how the CCG has taken them into account.’

WHY DO THEY NEED TO MERGE? 

Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships and their planned successors – Integrated Care Systems – are NON STATUTORY bodies. They have no legal basis. Yet these are now the bodies making collective decisions about the NHS in your area. 

Not being statutory organisations means technically they have no power to make decisions that are binding on all NHS ‘partners‘ in their area. But they need this power, in order to deliver the NHS Long Term Plan. 

Having one statutory Clinical Commissioning Group per Sustainability and Transformation Partnership or Integrated Care System would get round this problem. They could take the legal responsibility for the decision making,  strategic planning and contracting decisions. Including cuts and restrictions to services! 

These mergers are a typical “work around” by NHS England’s Chief Executive Simon Stevens, to reorganise the NHS in a top-down fashion, without changes to legislation through the democratic process. Allowing a Clinical Commissioning Group to assume legal responsibility means there is no need to pass legislation with parliamentary debate.

AN NHS BASED ON BUSINESS PROFITS NOT CLINICAL NEED

Under the NHS Long Term Plan, Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships/ Integrated Care Systems are now required to impose cheaper, market-based financial and clinical models imported from the USA’s Medicare/Medicaid system. This provides “managed” or “accountable” care, designed to reduce patients’ access to costly hospital services. 

And we have to ask ourselves what does that mean for patient and staff safety? 

And one merged Clinical Commissioning Group covering a large area and large population, means that local accountability – local as in districts, towns’ hospitals – would be reduced. Decisions would be made by a committee of people who may not have knowledge or interest in your local area. 

One good example of why this is not a good idea is Lewisham Hospital. In Lewisham, the Clinical Commissioning Group joined with campaigners to keep the hospital open; this would not have happened if Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group had disappeared into a much larger Clinical Commissioning Group, as is now proposed. 

For these reasons we demand a halt to the reduction in Clinical Commissioning Groups and a full consultation on each merger proposal.