Plan Action To Keep Hospitals Open –Bma Urged

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The British Medical Association (BMA) Central Consultants and Specialists Committee (CCSC) is meeting today at BMA House, Tavistock Place, London.

One of the resolutions before the committee calls for a plan of action to keep district general hospitals (DGHs) open and defend jobs.

The resolution from North East London RCSC states: ‘North East London RCSC meeting is appalled by the demand of the NHS Chief Executive David Nicholson for the reconfiguration and downsizing of 60 hospitals in England.

‘The imperative for this comes from the government’s healthcare outside hospitals White Paper, “Our Health, our care, our say: a new direction in community services” which demands that five per cent of resources per year be removed from hospital care and transferred to new privatised “community care” facilities.

‘Large sections of the population will no longer be able to access the high quality consultant-led care of the DGH and its A&E department. The jobs of thousands of consultants and juniors are threatened.

‘We call on CCSC to organise a special Seniors Conference in January 2007, a) to discuss this crisis and b) to organise a plan of action to keep our DGHs open and defend our jobs.’

• The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) yesterday welcomed the House of Commons Health Select Committee report’s recognition that actions to offset NHS deficits are leading to service cuts and posts losses.

Commenting on the report, RCN General Secretary Dr Beverly Malone said: ‘As we near the end of another financial year more Trusts are going to have to take even more drastic action to balance the books. It is patients and staff at the sharp end of the problem that will continue to suffer.

‘We know that training budgets are being targeted to offset deficits and this is unacceptable.

‘This means that we will see a reduction in the numbers of nurses we are going to train and a reduction in nurses’ continuing education. This keeps nurses’ skills up to date and if they are not getting the training then patients are not getting the best care.

‘There was a commitment to make sure that training budgets were used for training, not for use by Trusts in financial trouble. We want to see this re-confirmed and put into practice.

‘We support change where there is a clinical need, but all too often as the report shows service cuts and reconfiguration are driven by the need to save money, not improve services to patients.

‘We are not against reform. But what we have now are short-term responses to problems that need long term and thought-through solutions. Ultimately, patients and the quality of care they receive should be at the heart of decision making because they and the staff caring for them deserve it.’