Friday, May 30, 2014

New NHS boss backs community hospitals

In an interview which was seen as support both for smaller District General Hospitals such as West Cumberland Hospital, and of Community hospitals such as Millom hospital,Simon Stevens, the new Chief Executive of the NHS, told the Daily Telegraph that smaller hospitals should play a bigger role especially in the care of older patients.

In this Daily Telegraph interview, Simon Stevens signalled a change in policy by calling for a shift away from big centralised hospitals.

The health service chief executive said there needed to be new models of care built around smaller local hospitals.

The NHS said he was not suggesting the return of 50s-style cottage hospitals.

In recent years the health service has emphasised the benefits of centralised services. This has paid dividends in areas such as stroke care and major trauma where significant benefits have been gained by concentrating specialist care.

But it has been seen as a question mark over the future of the many smaller district general hospitals across the NHS such as West Cumberland Hospital.

In the interview in Friday's paper, Mr Stevens said they should play an important part in providing care, especially for the growing number of older patents who could be treated closer to home.

He said: "A number of other countries have found it possible to run viable local hospitals serving smaller communities than sometimes we think are sustainable in the NHS.

"Most of western Europe has hospitals which are able to serve their local communities, without everything having to be centralised."

Mr Stephens said that elderly patients were increasingly ending up in hospital unnecessarily because they had not been given care which could have kept them at home.

Mr Stevens also told the Telegraph:

  • The NHS needs to abandon a fixation with "mass centralisation" and instead invest in community services to care for the elderly
  • Waiting targets introduced by Labour became "an impediment to care" in too many cases
  • The European Working Time Directive damaged health care in the NHS, making it harder to keep small hospitals open
  • Businesses should financially reward employees for losing weight and adopting healthy lifestyles

Friday, May 16, 2014

Millom Hospital public meeting tonight (16th May 2014)

There is a meeting at 5pm this evening (Friday 16th May) at the Beggar’s Theatre, Market Square in Millom to discuss the future of Millom Community Hospital

There is widespread concern in Millom about the future of the hospital. In-patient services are temporarily closed because of a lack of GP cover.

The Trust has promised that it has no plans to close the hospital. It has been very healthy to see massive support from the people of Millom for their local community hospital: at the same time, it is extremely important not to discuss the issue in alarmist language. That woud be highly counterproductive because the main issue for the hospital is recruiting and regaining staff and particularly getting GP cover: we need people who come to work in the NHS in the Millom area that their jobs have a secure future.

The Nicholson Challenge and West Cumbria's NHS

The largest financial driver in the NHS is the Nicholson Challenge. This is a policy put in place in 2009 whilst Andy Burnham was Secretary of State. Labour knew it had to control NHS spending after years of real growth so it adopted the Nicholson Challenge. This appears in the 2010 Labour manifesto on page 4:3.

The idea of Nicholson is to take out £20 billion of efficiency savings and put it back in in new services to meet rising demand.

The Coalition promised to protect NHS spending, which it has, but the Nicholson Challenge was already built into NHS spending plans in May 2010. Since May 2010 the Labour party at every level including here in West Cumbria has described the effects of the Nicholson Challenge policy which they themselves introduced as “Tory cuts”.

Of course, some of the problems we have had in West Cumbria, such as the crrent difficulties at Millom hospital, are nothing to do with any kind of cuts: the main problem at Millom is recruiting and retaining doctors (see next article.)

The same, or a less generous, financial settlement would have been given to the NHS if Labour had won in 2010 - Burnham suggested that the coalition was being "Irresponsible" in not making the NHS make a share of the overall cuts which eve Labour admitted were necessary and therefore making heavier cuts elsewhere.

So if a Labour spokeman starts talking to you about cuts in the NHS, ask if this means the Nicholson Challenge - and if he or she can't point to some other specific policy, point aout that this was introduced by Labour in 2009.