I read with scepticism Stephen Hammond’s claim (YEP January 17th) that “the NHS plan will preserve the nation’s most prized asset”. The ‘plan’ aims to keep people well and identify illness earlier – both dependent on adequate funding and sufficient staff.
Two thirds of acute Trusts are in the red, compared with 5% in 2010. Cancer waiting times are the worst on record, huge problems exist in A&E, and the average wait for a GP appointment is up 30% to two weeks.
Until eight years ago, the NHS budget was increased annually by 4% to meet rising demand, before being savagely cut to 1%. The Office for Public Responsibility estimates a 4.3% increase is needed. £20.5 bn does not make up for the accumulated financial deficit, increases the overall budget by only 3.4%, and not until 2023/4.
The ‘plan’ also intends to implement a top down reorganisation, with 44 ‘Integrated Care Systems’, lacking in public accountability (everything about you decided without you) and unprotected from takeover by the private sector.
Forced mergers of GP practices will cover populations of 30-50,000, causing accessibility problems for many.
Whereas most of the 60+ uncosted commitments in the ‘plan’ to improve services would be welcome, they are completely unrealistic given the funding offered.
An obsession with non-evidence based digital solutions, lack of a workforce plan to tackle the current 100,000 vacancies, absence of information on how much capital will be available for new projects, and ignoring the crisis in social care all spell further misery for patients.
£20.5 bn may help keep the lights on, but this ‘plan’ is in reality a recipe for the destruction of our most prized asset.
Leeds Keep Our NHS Public invitrs the public to join a demonstration demanding proper NHS funding:
30th March 11.30 outside Leeds Art Gallery, Victoria Gardens
Dr John Puntis