‘Special measures’ against NHS

A group of nursery school teachers protesting on Monday night
A group of nursery school teachers protesting on Monday night

ELEVEN NHS hospitals are being placed under special measures because of major failings, Health Secretary Hunt announced yesterday.

Hunt said the trusts, among 14 investigated for allegedly high death rates, had problems so entrenched that tough action was needed. These tough actions include closure!

North London Council of Action Secretary Bill Rogers commented: ‘We must defend the NHS against these vultures.

‘First of all under Labour we saw the dash to introduce the health market and gain Foundation Trust status.

‘Huge cuts in staff were made and of course patient care suffered.

‘Thousands of staff were sacked in a rush to achieve the cuts, again at the expense of the patients and then they proclaimed £20bn of cuts.

‘The Tories then took over with their Health and Social Care Act, and their plans to shut down up to 60 District General Hospitals and carve the NHS up to suit the privateers.

‘They have just announced that there are to be another £30bn of NHS cuts.

‘They are slaughtering the NHS!

‘Of course patient care is suffering, this is a direct result of government policies and the drive to privatise.

‘In North London we are determined not to allow our Chase Farm Hospital to close and we call upon the trade unions to take strike action to defend the NHS and not to let a single hospital be closed.’

Hunt cited examples of staffing problems, poor care and weak leadership as he announced the special measures move in Parliament.

The other three trusts investigated were also told to make improvements following the review.

In his reply to Hunt, Labour shadow health secretary Burnham said: ‘The government made unfounded claims that will have alarmed people in the areas served by the 14 hospitals and they have questioned the integrity of the staff working in those hospitals in difficult circumstances, all for their own self-serving political ends.

‘That simply is unworthy of any responsible government.

‘On reading this review, the diversionary spin operation now makes sense, because it reveals evidence of deterioration at all 14 hospitals on their watch.

‘Let me give you some of Sir Bruce’s central findings on safe staffing. One of the report’s major concerns is that trusts have allowed staffing levels to drop to dangerously low levels.

‘It says this – when the review teams visited the hospitals they found frequent examples of inadequate numbers of nursing staff in some ward areas.’

He continued: ‘Five of the trusts examined by Keogh had warnings in place and it is shocking that they have been allowed to cut staff to unsafe levels on this government’s watch.

‘Overall, seven of the trusts in the review have cut frontline staff by a shocking 1,117.

‘The great sadness is that it appears ministers are in danger of forgetting the lessons of Stafford, where Robert Frances identified dangerous cuts in the frontline as the primary cause of care failures.’

He added: ‘The loss of over 4,000 nursing jobs under this government which has now been laid bare is a monumental mistake.’