Government determined to destroy District General Hospitals

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THE HSJ (Health Service Journal) has done a service to the NHS, and its tens of millions of users.

It has revealed just how the government is consciously acting to implement the Darzi plan for NHS reconfigurations.

Behind all of the misleading propaganda surrounding Darzi, is the basic plan to close up to 24 London District General Hospitals (DGHs) and replace them with polyclinics.

It has already been stated that this plan is blazing the trail for similar plans in every part of the UK.

The government’s Department of Health (DoH) is now employing a pricing mechanism, to turn the vital specialist services that District General Hospitals provide into big lossmakers, that will force the DGHs to hand over these services up and down the country to one of Darzi’s regional centres of excellence, which are now being selected.

The Department of Health is introducing a new top-up system. This will see some DGHs designated as ‘specialist’ hospitals.

These will receive a top-up premium to ensure that they do not operate at a loss.

The emphasis is on ‘some’ hospitals. Not all DGHs will receive these premium payments.

They have been chosen by the Department of Health to provide these services at a loss.

This means that they will have to choose between the prospect of being closed as a ‘failed hospital’ or will have to surrender their specialist treatments and hand them over to some ‘centre of excellence’, that does receive a premium payment, and is therefore not a lossmaker.

The DGH’s are to be slaughtered!

This manoeuvre constitutes a crude but highly effective procedure for destroying the DGH system in London and throughout the country!

It also exposes the Darzi plan to be just a smokescreen behind which there will be bigger than ever NHS cuts calculated to bring the era of District General Hospitals to a close, to the enormous cost of patients and staff.

The services that will only be provided at the so-called ‘centres of excellence’ will include cardiology, respiratory, orthopaedics, neurosciences, paediatrics and all other specialised children’s services.

The loss of ‘specialist’ status will cost most District General Hospitals over £1 million a year. The rope is already being soaped and the noose got ready for tightening.

On 15 October the DoH published a provisional list of 81 hospitals eligible for a top up in one or more of eight specialist areas.

The DoH said that this list was too generous and would have to be thinned.

In the south-east of England 13 local hospitals were designated as ‘specialist’ and therefore liable for a top-up premium payment.

The latest list thins out the 13 specialist hospitals to just four and centres most of the services in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals trust.

Ten local providers were declared to be orthopaedic ‘specialists’ in the first version. however, the later version designated none.

Respiratory ‘specialists’ were also cut from seven to none and cardiology specialists from ten to one.

What you have here is a brutally effective closure programme masquerading behind a very thin smokescreen of the provision of ‘world class centres of excellence’.

The issue is crystal clear. All hospital cuts and closures must be opposed with a policy of occupation to defend the DGHs. The trade unions must call a general strike to defend the NHS, by bringing down the Brown government and bringing in a workers government. This government will halt the privatisation programme and nationalise the drug companies to obtain the cash to further develop the NHS.