London NHS Rationing Plans ‘Are A Disgrace!’

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Health workers marching to defend the NHS, demanding no cuts, no closures and no privatisation
Health workers marching to defend the NHS, demanding no cuts, no closures and no privatisation

‘MASS rationing of operations to London’s patients’ is being planned under the London Choosing Wisely Programme, which was launched by the Healthy London Partnership on 12th March. The Healthy London Partnership was created in 2015 and comprises the Mayor of London, NHS England, London Councils, Public Health England and the NHS Office of London Clinical Commissioning Groups.

‘MASS rationing of operations to London’s patients’ is being planned under the London Choosing Wisely Programme, which was launched by the Healthy London Partnership on 12th March.

The Healthy London Partnership was created in 2015 and comprises the Mayor of London, NHS England, London Councils, Public Health England and the NHS Office of London Clinical Commissioning Groups.

The Healthy London Partnership states: ‘The procedures that are being reviewed are:

• Surgical removal of benign skin lesions (abnormal growth or abnormal appearance of skin) • Hip arthroplasty (replacement) • Knee arthroplasty (replacement) • Knee arthroscopy (keyhole surgery)

• Interventional treatments for back pain • Varicose vein procedures • Shoulder decompression (removing bone spurs and soft tissue through keyhole surgery) • Cataract surgery (replacing a clouded eye lens with an artificial lens)

‘The eight procedures above will be reviewed by clinicians (both from primary and secondary care), patient representatives, equality and diversity leads and public health experts… ‘The development of a London policy for each treatment will reduce variation of care for all Londoners by ensuring a consistent approach to implementing NICE guidance.

‘Final recommendations will then be made by the London Choosing Wisely Steering Group based on each of the clinical reviews. Final decisions will be made by the 32 London CCGs.’

Anna Athow, retired surgeon, BMA member speaking in a personal capacity, said: ‘This disgraceful programme is yet another attempt at “demand management” to stop patients’ access to necessary surgical treatments. ‘It is mass rationing of operations to London’s patients.

‘Instead of a private company vetting all GP referrals to surgical outpatient clinics, the NHS England bosses, are proposing their own committee of handpicked specialists, patients representatives and public health experts, to decide which patients are entitled to which operations.

‘This has never been the NHS way. The NHS was founded on the principle of comprehensive care according to clinical need. The decision whether to refer a patient to a surgeon lay with the patient’s own GP, who has individual knowledge of that patient’s history and symptoms. ‘The decision whether to offer surgery then lies with the NHS surgeon, who after many years of training and experience, and after taking a history and examining the patient decides whether surgery would benefit that patient. ‘Getting the right surgery in time, gives patients a new lease of life.

‘Why should they not be allowed to walk again free of pain, to move their arms, to see properly, so that they can work and regain independence and enjoy life? ‘All this wonderful surgical expertise exists in the NHS. It must be available to all patients, not just those that can pay. ‘These decisions should not be taken by committees set up by NHSE and the Five London STP boards.

These people do not know the patient, and anyway are committed to make billions of pounds worth of cuts and cut more hospital beds, as their top priority on the STP Five Year Forward View plans.

‘It is a disgrace that the Labour Mayor of London and the London Councils have put their name to this outrageous plan. ‘All doctors and NHS staff should fight these plans. We came into medicine to provide necessary care to patients not to deny it. The health unions must condemn this programme.’