Mass Hospital Closures On The Way

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HEALTH Minister Mike O’Brien has responded to the findings of the government-established Care Quality Commission (CQC).

This has just claimed that one in eight of the 392 NHS Trusts, 49 Trusts in all, are failing their patients and face closure on the recommendation of the Commission, next April, under a provision of the Health and Social Care Act 2008.

Minister O’Brien commented: ‘Earlier this year we introduced a tough new performance regime and will not hesitate to trigger this if we need to.’

What O’Brien is hinting at is that next April all NHS Trusts will have to register with the CQC, and if that registration is denied to them they will not be able to continue legally as hospitals and will be closed.

Under the CQC axe is every type of NHS trust, including acute, mental health, primary care and ambulance.

Barbara Young, of the Care Quality Commission, has given the 392 Trusts ‘a range of measures to focus their minds’ up to the April deadline.

More than half of Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) were rated good or excellent.

There were, however, significant regional variations, with Trusts in London rated as performing particularly poorly on patient satisfaction with appointments and opening times.

Amongst the particularly poor performers that face the threat of closure in April 2010, are the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, the Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust, the Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust, Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust and Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals NHS Trust.

Twenty Trusts scored weak for overall quality, while 27 others have now never scored higher than fair, for either quality or finance, in the four years since the ratings system was started.

The CQC said it intends to work closely with these 47 Trusts to sort out their problems ahead of April next year, when it will gain the power to intervene in every Trust, from dealing out admonishments to launching prosecutions and closing services down.

Cynthia Bower, CQC Chief Executive, says ‘I want to ring the alarm bell in the boardrooms of these organisations. Next year, all Trusts must register with us to legally function. It is clear that many have significant work to do and a short time in which to do it. They should be in no doubt that we will take firm action if we deem it necessary.’

This reign of terror is taking place in the context of NHS hospitals being forced to sack hundreds of nurses and other staff in order to make the kind of financial saving that would qualify them for NHS Foundation Trust status.

The savage cut in finance and the major staff cuts have led to some dirty hospitals giving unsatisfactory treatment, but breaking even or even making a profit, therefore qualifying as NHS Trust businesses.

As well, tens of billions of pounds of the NHS Budget have been diverted to the private medical industry, which has been given extremely lucrative block contracts to do NHS work.

Now, with the financial crisis engulfing the entire capitalist world, budget cuts, health cuts and mass NHS hospital closures are on the agenda as the government struggles to wipe out the £175 billion deficit acquired by bailing out banks.

The CQC is the government guillotine for beheading the NHS and privatising much of what is left.

The BMA and the NHS trade unions must mobilise NHSTogether to stop the hospital closures and drive the privateers out of the NHS.

They must spell out to the Brown government that they will defeat any attempt to close 50 NHS Trusts next April, by bringing the government down and going forward to a workers government.