TORY Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock outlined the new White Paper in Parliament yesterday pushing a complete reorganisation of the NHS, breaking the NHS into local regions, where richer areas people will get treated and in poorer areas they will receive inadequate care while giving private companies free rein to take control of NHS funds.
Hancock told Parliament: ‘The new approach is based on the concept of population health. A statutory Integrated Care System (ICS) will be responsible in each part of England for the funding to support the health of their area. They will provide not just for the treatments which are needed but support people to stay healthy in the first place.
‘In some parts of the country, ICSs are already showing the way and they will be accountable for outcomes of the health of the population and be held to account by the Care Quality Commission.’
He then said: ‘I come before this House to present this White Paper on the future of health and social care. At its heart this White Paper enables greater integration, reduces bureaucracy and supports the way that the NHS and social care work together.
‘The response to Covid-19 has in my view accelerated the basis of collaboration across health and social care showing what we can do when we work together flexibly, adopting new technology focusing on the needs of the patient and setting aside bureaucratic rules.’
He then outlined a system merging health and social care, and an emphasis on prevention rather than cure on a regional basis.
‘The first set of measures promote integration between different parts of the health and social care system and put the focus of health funding on the health of the population and not just the health of patients.’
He emphasised that the Secretary of State will be in charge saying: ‘The White Paper provides a statutory basis for a unified national leadership of the NHS, merging three bodies that legally oversee the NHS as one, which is NHS England. NHS England will have a clinical, independent day-to-day and operational independence, but the Secretary of State will be empowered to set direction for the NHS and intervene where necessary.’
Labour Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Parliament: ‘We are in the middle of the biggest public health crisis the NHS has ever faced. Staff on the frontline are exhausted and underpaid.
‘The RCN says that the NHS is on its knees. Primary Care and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) staff are vaccinating and will be doing so for months ahead and indeed possibly delivering booster jabs in the autumn and today we learn that 224,000 people are waiting over twelve months for treatment.
‘And this Secretary of State thinks that this is the right time for a structural reorganisation of the NHS.
‘Now we will study the legislation carefully when published but the test of his reorganisation will be whether it brings waiting lists and times down, widens access, especially for mental health care, drives up cancer survival rates and improves population health.’
Hancock replied: ‘I will take that as cautious support, I am very glad that the honourable gentleman leaves the door open for yet more enthusiastic support in the future.’
Doctors union the British Medical Association (BMA) also gave its cautious support. Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said: ‘While the BMA supports greater collaboration within the NHS, our members and their colleagues need a real chance to assess these plans and their implications.
‘On the back of a year in which doctors have gone above and beyond in responding to the greatest health crisis in a generation, they are now both physically and emotionally exhausted.
‘Proposals for sweeping reorganisation on such a scale will need greater time for consideration and must not be rushed through while doctors are still tackling the winter surge in infections, hospitalisations and tragically, deaths.
‘Since its inception, the NHS has been subject to countless restructures, and the BMA will be interrogating these latest proposals in detail to ensure that they are informed by the expertise of doctors, and deliver real change that secures a better deal for staff and quality care for patients.’
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unite union took the same line, offering cautious support for the sweeping Tory reorganisation.
Unite national officer for health Jackie Williams said: ‘The devil will be in the detail as to how the promised improvements will roll-out.’
RCN Chief Executive and General Secretary, Dame Donna Kinnair, said: ‘These proposals are only worthwhile if the UK government makes this issue a priority and matches that with investment.’
Oppose and defeat Tory NHS reorganisation – BMA member Anna Athow
THE TORIES’ new NHS reorganisation must be opposed and defeated, Anna Athow, British Medical Association (BMA) member said yesterday.
She said: ‘The Tories’ new health bill is about deepening the control by the big health insurance companies, data and tech companies on the management of the NHS.
‘The NHS has been carved up into 42 areas which will be dominated by cliques of managers and private company bosses, to make as much money as they can.’
She added: ‘It is the brainchild of Simon Stevens, former deputy president of United Health, the biggest American health insurance company, who has been running NHS England for the last 6 years. He now seeks to impose the American system called “Population Health Management”.
‘The new “Integrated Care System” boards are not only the heads of hospital and ambulance trusts, GPs from the Primary Care Networks, and Local Authority bosses, but also those from the private sector; the social care providers, community care companies, mental hospitals etc, and the above mentioned private partners advising on financial management, data collection and new technology.
‘The bulk of the NHS annual budget of £140bn a year is to be handed over to these boards, dominated by these sharks.
‘Financial incentives have already been set up for these ICSs (formerly STP boards) to make profits by reducing hospital care provided for patients through “shared savings schemes” in the name of “efficiency”. Hence they are constantly reconfiguring more hospital closures.
‘This is what Hancock means when he says that “patients will get more preventative care”, and this will mean “less burden” on the NHS.
‘We have already witnessed the massive rundown of the NHS in the last decade, with a shortage of GPs and a huge cuts hospital beds, nurses and doctors. That is one of the main reasons why so many people have died in the pandemic.
‘The bill is designed, not to reduce bureaucracy to but to channel yet more of the NHS budget into parasitic private companies. It will destroy the NHS as a national publicly provided system providing care according to clinical need.
‘This new White Paper must be completely opposed and defeated. All the unions and the Labour Party must mobilise to stop it.’