A FIVE-YEAR plan for the NHS – produced by NHS England, Public Health England, the regulator Monitor, the NHS Trust Development Authority, Care Quality Commission and Health Education England – supported by the coalition government, has highlighted that there will be a £30bn NHS deficit by 2020.
he report concedes that there has already been £20bn of NHS cuts and that half of this sum was raised by slashing staff wages, with a further £10bn of cuts achieved by a mass closure of A&Es and Maternity units, that is now in full swing.
The six bodies sponsoring cuts do not dare to suggest that there be another £10bn of wage cuts; instead they volunteer the NHS for £22bn of massive cuts and closures and urge the government to add the ‘extra £8bn’.
The plan – called the NHS Forward View – said the future of the health service depended on it becoming more efficient. At one time, this meant closing small hospitals and having bigger NHS hospital units. Today, the cuts specialists are urging the mass closure of District General Hospitals with their A&Es and Maternity units as a means of stopping mass use, by the simple device of closing them all.
The ‘six’ say that the £30bn shortfall predicted by 2020 could fund 100 hospitals so from that we can gauge that there are at least 100 major hospitals down for closure.
They are to be replaced by large GP practices which employ hospital doctors to provide extra services, including diagnostics, chemotherapy and hospital outpatient appointments.
In many areas, hospitals could be reduced to providing GP services, with smaller hospitals working as part of a larger chain, sharing back-office and management services, and medical staff.
The remaining larger hospitals are to open ‘franchises’ at smaller sites, as if they were McDonald’s.
As part of the campaign to keep the elderly out of hospital, and cut emergency admissions, they are to be warehoused in private care centres and care homes, and a watch kept on them via video links from their mother hospital.
Volunteers for the care centres and care homes are to be recruited by offering council-tax discounts.
It is calculated that this tactic will reduce emergency admissions by 35% and A&E attendances by 53%, providing there is still an A&E and emergency facilities available within travelling distance.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, the lead body for Forward View, said yesterday that the NHS is at a ‘crossroads’.
He said if the health service did not improve, the ‘consequences for patients will be severe’. In fact, he is setting out to complete the privatisation of the NHS.
From 2001-4, he was health policy adviser to Tony Blair. He was closely associated with the development of Foundation Trusts, the health market and the NHS Plan 2000.
From 2004-6, he was President of the major US health privateer UnitedHealth Europe and moved on to be Chief Executive Officer of UnitedHealthcare Medicare & Retirement and then President.
In October 2013, the speaker biography of Stevens for a health networking conference read, ‘His responsibilities include leading UnitedHealth’s strategy for, and engagement with, national health reform, ensuring its businesses are positioned for changes in the market and regulatory environment.’
Exactly, he is now getting the NHS ready for the kill.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the report as ‘positive’ but recognised there are ‘big, big challenges’.
He added: ‘A strong NHS needs a strong economy, then it is possible to increase spending this report calls for.
‘We will need to find greater efficiency savings. It will be tough to do so and don’t underestimate challenge.’ In other words the slashing of staff wages is to continue.
The trade unions must reject and fight this five-year plan to smash the NHS. They must take action to bring down the coalition and bring in a workers government that will defend and develop the NHS by driving out the privateers, nationalising the drug companies and cancelling the Trident programme.