NEW HOSPITALS THREAT by NHS Clinical Commissioner

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CALLS by the head of NHS Clinical Commissioners for most hospitals to be ‘downsized’ or closed and for 50 per cent of current hospital care to be done ‘in the community’ in future, were condemned by Unite yesterday.

Rachael Maskell, Unite Head of Health, told News Line: ‘They are removing money, dictating reorganisation and not putting patient need as central and first.

‘Their masterplan is about fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS and that is not in the interests of patients.’

Maskell was responding to a newspaper article by Dr Michael Dixon, president of NHS Clinical Commissioners, which represents 135 of the 211 clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), which took control of £65 billion of health spending under the Health Act which came into force last week.

Dixon stated in the article: ‘A very large amount of what’s currently done in hospitals could or should be done elsewhere. I think 50 per cent.’

He continued: ‘The implications are that hospitals would need to downsize and become places where you go if you are very ill or need very specialist care and not places where you go for more generalist care or where you can be looked after in the community.’

Asked whether he meant hospitals should be ‘downsized’, closed or both, Dixon replied: ‘Both’.

Dixon was backed by Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents hospitals under the Health Act.

Farrar said: ‘As a vision for what the future in healthcare could be like, it’s right. The public’s attitude to hospitals needs to change.

News Line asked Maskell whether the need to take action to defend the NHS was one of the considerations behind Unite’s call for the TUC to call a general strike at its General Council meeting on 24th April.

She replied: ‘There is a lot of dependence on these discussions.

‘The NHS is so vital that there has to be a strong reaction from the whole of society.

‘People cannot believe that the government would destroy the NHS and we have a massive education programme so that people can understand what is happening to the NHS and ultimately the threat to their lives.’