THE TORY government, using their NHS Long Term Plan have stepped up their war against the health service, attempting to drive through measures that will smash the NHS. The plan is to proceed with a mass closure programme, cutting patient care and bringing in big American private health companies to make enormous profits out of sick people.
The latest measures, to be brought in this September, are plans to assess, treat and discharge patients on the same day! An overnight stay in hospital is to be ruled out.
The Health Service Journal reported: ‘By September, every hospital must have a same day emergency care unit, designed to treat patients judged to require several hours’ worth of treatment, tests or observation and avoid the need to admit them to an overnight bed, under new rules.’
This is the thrust of the Tories’ NHS Long Term Plan. When launched by ex-Prime Minister Theresa May in the summer of 2018, she pledged an extra £20.5 billion for the NHS over the next five years. When the details were finally announced at the beginning of the year, the leaders of the Unite, Unison, GMB, BMA, RCN and RCM union leaders, to their shame, gave it a ‘cautious welcome,’ simply saying the money was a start but not enough.
Tory Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said that the plan is to ‘treat ever more people in their communities, using the latest technology to tackle preventable diseases.’
This was not money to train up more nurses to end the 40,000 shortfall, or to restore the student nurses’ bursary, or to expand A&Es, or build more hospitals or childrens’ departments . . . NO! this was money to divert patients away from NHS hospitals.
The government website states that the money is to ‘improve out-of-hospital care, supporting primary medical and community health services’ and ‘make digital health services a mainstream part of the NHS, so that in 5 years, patients in England will be able to access a digital GP offer.’
Their plan is clear: to attempt to divert patients away from A&Es, away from NHS hospitals, to be ‘treated in their communities’.
Of course there are not the medical staff to cover the community and treat patients in their own homes, instead the plan is for patients to access their GP via their phones or laptops – ‘virtual consultations’ and ‘speak to your GP by Skype’.
This has been lauded as a ‘digital revolution’ but of course it is a cost-cutting exercise which is nothing short of dangerous for patients and a death sentence for the NHS. In response to the call, private GP services have sprung up like ‘GP at hand’, run by the profiteer Babylon Health Services Ltd., that are raking in millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money.
Doctors have warned that using a phone to assess a patient is extremely dangerous. Symptoms can be missed, or illnesses misdiagnosed and the wrong medication prescribed, the initial stages of cancers left unchecked.
Under the new regime, if you go straight to your local hospital A&E, bypassing your GP, the Tory government have introduced measures to ‘divert’ you elsewhere.
Since the winter of 2017, every major A&E unit has been obliged to introduce ‘front-door streaming’ so that patients can be assessed by ‘gatekeepers’ to ‘see if they really need to be seen at the emergency unit’.
These dangerous measures had disastrous consequences. David Birtwistle, 44, a father-of-one, died from a pulmonary embolism after being turned away by a pilot scheme in Bristol, just six days after its launch.
Instead of being seen by A&E doctors, he was seen by the GP service, which failed to order basic tests which could have saved his life. Despite the disastrous results of ‘front-door streaming’ the Tories’ Long Term Plan goes even further.
This means that as soon as surgery is finished, sick and elderly patients will be turfed out of the hospital and onto the street. These measures must be stopped! All trade unions must come out unequivocally in opposition to the Tories Long Term Plan. There has to be general strike by all the unions to put an end to this government and bring in a workers government to restore the NHS to full public ownership. This is vital for public health and safety!