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Private Eye

May 20, 2017

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1440 March 16, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 11:44 am

Virgin to sue the NHS

Following MD’s revelation that Virgin Care was cutting up rough after losing the £82 million Surrey children’s services tender (Eye last), the Health Service Journal has discovered Richard Branson’s business empire is suing NHS England, Surrey County Council and the county’s six clinical commissioning groups after commissioners awarded the three-year contract to Surrey Healthy Children and Families Services Limited Liability Partnership.
A Virgin Care spokesman told the HSJ the company had concerns about “serious flaws in the procurement process which has led to an outcome that we strongly feel is not in the best interests of the children and families we support, or our valued colleagues.” A Virgin Care whistle-blower was less convinced the company deserved to retain the contract it had held for 5 years. ‘A lot was promised by Virgin when they won the contract, but very little materialised. We all got nice phones and new computers, but the recruitment needed into developmental paediatrics didn’t happen. There was lots of branding and leadership courses, but I don’t think the care of children with special educational needs, or the support for their families, improved. For example, a key receptionist was not replaced and

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1439 Feb 24, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 11:33 am

Virgin Territory

According to Chief Inspector of Hospitals Prof Mike Richards, the NHS stands on a ‘burning platform’ with 11% of trusts rated inadequate by the CQC and 70% requiring improvement. Understaffing and overcrowding put patients and staff at risk every day. Meanwhile, private providers lead by Virgin Care are busy ‘conquering the community care space’ says HealthInvestor magazine. ‘A market worth around £10 billion has suddenly become a private affair…’ Virgin has already hoovered up over 400 health, social care and local authority services’ contracts, worth over £1 billion. It’s ‘quite the portfolio’ according to HealthInvestor, and other companies are lining up to conquer what’s left. ‘The chance to drink in a £9 billion pool in tantalising…’

There’s a clear underfunding and privatizing trend in NHS and Local Authority services. Between April 2013 and April 2016, 45% of the community health services that were put up for tender went to non-NHS providers. Private operators now run GP and out of hours services, walk-in centres and minor injury units, district nursing, diabetes, musculoskeletal, audiology, dermatology, physiotherapy, podiatry, rheumatology, mental health and other chronic disease services, urgent care, phlebotomy, anti-coagulation, sexual health, wheelchair services, prison healthcare, community hospitals, neuro-rehabilitation, frail and

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Private Eye Medicine Balls 1438 Feb 17, 2017
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 11:25 am

Who wants to be Leader?

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt believes, rightly for once, that the NHS can only survive if more clinical staff become leaders. Yet most clinical staff don’t want to be lead by Jeremy Hunt or implement dangerous £22 billion austerity cuts, departmental closures and the private outsourcing policy of the government. Leading an organization where patients and staff are routinely harmed by the effects of unnecessary underfunding is a thankless task. The BBC’s week long exposure of the NHS crisis introduced us to the concept of ‘corridor nurse’ in scenes reminiscent of the nineties. Back in July, a Surrey woman died after being denied entrance to 3 hospitals and NHS England was warned of worse to come. Now many ambulance trusts aren’t able to fulfil their emergency response times, and staff are in tears in short-staffed departments that can’t cope with the demand. The service has always been glued together by goodwill but under Hunt, the goodwill has gone and staff are walking.

Under Hunt’s command, the number of junior doctors progressing directly into specialty training has fallen from 71.6% in 2011 to 50.4% in 2016, its lowest ever level (Eye last). This is sad,

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February 21, 2017

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1437
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 1:57 pm

Consequences

In 2009, NHS chief executive David Nicholson was set a challenge by Gordon Brown to find £20 billion in “efficiency savings” by 2015, as the NHS’ contribution to bailing out the banks and paying off the national debt. It was dubbed ‘the Nicholson Challenge’ by Brown, a tag enthusiastically embraced by the Conservatives to signal where the buck would stop if it failed. Nicholson was clear this was a one off, drastic squeeze in NHS funding that he hoped could be achieved by improving quality and productivity without affecting patient care. The fact that it was enforced as the horrors of the Mid Staffordshire scandal were unfolding, and yet were repeatedly ignored and denied by government, showed the dangers of prioritising savage savings over safe staffing of the NHS.

Nicholson’s failure to meet Mid Staffs campaigners and to act earlier on widespread concerns about appalling care contributed to his retirement, but his replacement Simon Stevens fell into exactly the same political trap. In promising to make a further £22 billion of fantasy efficiency savings by 2020 to fund his ‘Five Year Forward View’, the NHS is now facing over a decade of static funding in the face of

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February 10, 2017

Private Eye Medicine Balls 1436
Filed under: Private Eye — Dr. Phil @ 10:24 am

Blamestorming and Bedhunting

Politicians have always been adept at centralising praise and devolving blame, but for Theresa May and Jeremy Hunt to blame GPs for the meltdown in hospitals takes it to a new level of stupidity. True, the waiting times for routine GP appointments are rising (due to increased demand and a lack of GPs), but 86.3% of GP practices in England already provide pre-bookable appointments outside core opening hours. The limit on appointments is down to the number of GPs, and we have fewer of them per head of the population than comparable countries in Western Europe. Hence the alarmingly high levels of staff stress, unlikely to be eased by the government’s crude blamestorming.

We also have far fewer hospital beds per head (2.8 per 1000) than comparable countries, and are about to cut thousands more in an attempt to squeeze a further £22 billion of savings out of an already over-stretched NHS. Patients who go to emergency departments for a minor illness that a GP, chemist or sensible family member could have sorted out are easily treated. The reason hospitals are in crisis is because of the number of sick people turning up who need to

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