ADAPT OR BE CLOSED! – warning to NHS hospitals

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Thousands of workers rallied last year outside Whittington Hospital in north London to stop it from closing. Now the government is threatening to close NHS hospitals up and down the country
Thousands of workers rallied last year outside Whittington Hospital in north London to stop it from closing. Now the government is threatening to close NHS hospitals up and down the country

NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson yesterday warned that many hospitals will face closure in the ‘new world’ of funding cuts and privatisation.

Nicholson told the BBC: ‘Most hospitals will be able to survive and thrive in the new world. But undoubtedly there will be those that will find it difficult.’

He added: ‘Those hospitals whose business model is based on increasing capacity have got to seriously look at the way they operate.

‘That is why some hospitals are looking towards taking over community services.’

He said hospitals will have to adapt and change to remain competitive.

Asked to comment on NHS budget annual rises of just one per cent over the next four years, Nicholson said: ‘It is a difficult settlement for the NHS, no doubt about it.’

The NHS chief executive also said that some hospital trusts may have to merge with their neighbours, which in turn would lead to a scaling back of some services.

Others, he added, may end up with private companies running them, as is happening with Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Cambridgeshire.

Meanwhile, Nicholson is moving post to become the chief executive of the NHS Commissioning Board in England from next April.

The board will oversee the network of GP consortia that will take charge of running local health services from 2013 under the government’s Health and Social Care Bill.

A BMA briefing yesterday said of the Bill that it ‘believes that the powers of the Secretary of State and the NHS Commissioning Board will be overly restrictive and controlling, going against these pledges to devolve power.’

Dr Laurence Buckman, Chairman of the BMA’s GPs Committee, said: ‘The NHS Commissioning Board will be given sweeping powers to get involved with the way consortia operate.

‘Time and time again in the Bill we see no mention of the need to consult consortia on matters that will have a direct and potentially very significant impact on the way they operate.

‘And when it comes to the dissolution of a consortium, the most serious act of all, there is no requirement to consult the consortium or the public, and no recourse for appeal.’

He added: ‘At the moment the Secretary of State and the NHS Commissioning Board are being granted powers that are far too wide-ranging and seem to go against the promise to devolve power to local clinicians . . .

‘The Secretary of State will be able to impose any conditions on consortia without review.

‘The NHS Commissioning Board will be able to dissolve consortia and change consortia areas, without consultation.’

Nicholson is to be a dictator forcing through hospital closures and privatisations.