MIKE Farrar, the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation, has spoken out for the closing of more hospitals.
He also condemned MPs who respond to the feelings of their constituents and lead marches to oppose the closures.
Accusing MPs of hypocrisy, he added: ‘Politicians can’t vote to limit the resources of the health service with one hand and then resist change on the other, when the service looks to make the most of the money it relies on from the taxpayer.’
Farrar stated that only by closing hospitals can the health service survive, and that only by having fewer beds and providing less services can the NHS cope with the greater demand from a growing elderly population.
He claimed that ‘fundamental change’ in the way the health service treats patients would produce better care, better value for money and better health outcomes.
But, he added, this would mean ‘concentrating specialist expertise in fewer sites to enable patients to have access to round-the-clock intensive care’.
He called for more community services to keep patients out of hospital.
Farrar is now the leading spokesman for the Tory LibDem coalition’s health privatisation policies.
In November he called on doctors to promote hospital closures, saying: ‘I think there are doctors who are much more prepared to stand up and make the case for change.
‘I wonder how MPs will feel if they have a doctor stand against them saying it is a scandal that they are campaigning to save local hospital services when they know it would save lives to make changes.’
He said that hospitals must become ‘sustainable’, suggesting that they can only become so if scores of local District General Hospitals are closed, and their more emergency and complex services concentrated in a few large 24/7 distant hospitals.
In October, Farrar said that the NHS needed to find £20bn in efficiency savings in five years.
He confirmed that some trusts were near breaking point, like South London Healthcare Trust which was deemed bankrupt.
He admitted that trusts face a relentless rise in emergency admissions for which they are often paid less than the cost of provision.
He explained that elective care, for which trusts get paid more, is gradually migrating to specialist hospitals, which was financially destabilising for smaller hospitals. This led to hospitals being penalised for financial under-performance.
Bill Rogers, Secretary of the North East London Council of Action, commented on Farrar’s ‘breathtaking arrogance’.
He said: ‘How dare Farrar condemn MPs who campaign to keep hospitals open and do their duty in relation to the needs of their constituents.
‘I can promise him that in this New Year, hundreds of thousands are going to take to the streets to keep hospitals open and to occupy them as necessary, as part of the struggle to defend our NHS and to bring this coalition down.
‘I doubt if Farrar will find a single doctor prepared to stand as a “Shut NHS hospitals down” parliamentary candidate.
‘Like everybody else, doctors are up in arms against hospital closures and they will be in the front line of occupations to stop closures.
‘Shame on you Farrar for slandering the doctors!’