CALLS by NHS England chief nursing officer Jane Cummings to cut acute care beds and close District General Hospitals, were roundly condemned by a leading British Medical Association member yesterday.
Writing in yesterday’s Telegraph newspaper, Cummings advocated scrapping ‘outdated’ forms of care and closing ‘old and expensive buildings’.
BMA member Anna Athow responded: ‘Professor Cummings, chief nurse, today calls for support for the 44 Sustainability and Transformation plans (STPs), whose main policies consist of closing more hospital beds and shifting medical care into the patient’s own home, while re-investing in new centralised commercial models of care.
‘She makes the completely spurious claim that “With more care provided at home, the NHS can spend more cash on patients rather than maintaining old and expensive hospital buildings. And more people can be better cared for with care personalised to their needs.”
‘This is nonsense. The UK already has the second lowest ratio of hospital beds to population out of 27 European countries. 37,000 hospital beds have been closed in the last decade. NHS hospitals this Christmas are full to the point of danger. We need more hospital beds not less.
‘Patients are not being denied care at home because of too many hospital beds but because of (i) massive cuts to general practice and the removal of GP Out-of-Hours care at night and weekends and their handing over to private companies since 2004, (ii) shocking lack of district of nurses, (iii) 40% cuts to social care with the loss of meals-on-wheels and community centres, leaving old and vulnerable patients at the mercy of 10 minute visits from outsourced social care companies.
‘There will be no better personalised care for patients in the community, any more than there has been for mental health patients. Cummings calls for the STPs to shake up “out dated models of care….”.
‘This is a back-handed way of saying that we no longer need our NHS District General hospitals and our GP surgeries which have served us so well for 68 years. She is just one more in a long line of government puppets promoting the “Five Year Forward View” of NHS England to destroy our NHS through cuts and privatisation by 2020.
‘This propaganda should be treated with healthy contempt, and a huge struggle to defend our current hospitals and GP surgeries must be waged by the unions. All those in this fight should come to the All Trades Unions Alliance Conference in Euston, central London on 11th February to discuss the action needed to win it.’