The NHS Support Federation write:
120,000 patients waited longer than 18 weeks for Orthopaedic treatment last year. Tim Briggs President of the Orthopaedic Association said some NHS bodies were delaying treatment until patients were either in “terrible” pain or were about to lose their independence. 6000 nursing posts have been lost since 2010 and a queue of indebted hospitals, are waiting for mergers or even closure.
Why is this happening? The government is demanding huge savings, over £20bn and these are the biggest in the history of the NHS. For many parts of the NHS the reality is that these savings cannot be made without sizeable cuts.
”You squeeze everything you can but the only way you can reduce expenditure is to cut labour costs, which means closing wards” - Alan Maynard, health economist and chair of York NHS trust for twelve years explains the blunt choice.We all want to see the NHS use our money wisely, but many NHS senior managers say that the service will get worse in trying to meet these targets - and evidence is growing that this is already happening. But the pressure doesn’t end there.
The government is also opening the doors of the NHS to the private sector, transferring a potential £20bn of health services into the hands of profit making companies like Virgin and Serco. Two recent media stories show how patients are being affected: “Six people are feared to have suffered irreversible sight loss because of the failings of a privately run clinic at an NHS hospital”, reports the Guardian, “permanent damage may have been inflicted on some patients with serious eye conditions because of a lack of follow-up care after treatment.”
In a second worrying example, dangerous delays affected the patients of a privatised out-of-hours GP service in Cornwall. Serco, the company involved was found to be failing to meet legal requirements on staffing. In both cases our concern is that corners were being cut, the services were compromised and patients' health put at risk - which is why we must oppose the huge planned privatisation of NHS services.