Hospital wards to shut in secret labour NHS cuts
Tens of thousands of NHS workers would be sacked, hospital units closed and patients denied treatments under labour’s secret plans for £20 billion of health cuts.
The sick would be urged to stay at home and email doctors rather than visit surgeries, while procedures such as hip replacements could be scrapped.
The plans have emerged as health chiefs draw up emergency budgets that cast doubt on pledges by Gordon Brown to protect “front line services” in the NHS.
Documents show that health chiefs are considering plans to begin sacking workers, cutting treatments and shutting wards across the country.
The proposals could lead to:
* 10 per cent of NHS staff being sacked in some areas.
* The loss of thousands of hospital beds.
* A reduction in the number of ambulance call-outs.
* Medical professionals being replaced by less qualified assistants.
The plans are contained in a series of internal NHS documents uncovered by The Daily Telegraph.
The final details of the plans are not due to be announced until the autumn, well after the country has gone to the polls for the general election.
The Conservatives and health campaigners said the public deserved to know the true extent of cuts at their local surgeries and hospitals before voting.
Last year all English health authorities were ordered by Sir David Nicholson, the NHS chief executive, to reconsider their plans after the recession forced the Government to freeze health spending from April next year.
This left a ”black hole’’ of up to £20 billion in health budgets up to 2014, prompting the drawing up of new proposals by the 10 strategic health authorities (SHAs).
They had until Friday to submit their plans to Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary. He is under pressure from the Treasury to show how money will be saved to help bring down Britain’s record £167 billion deficit.
In Wednesday’s Budget, Alistair Darling, the Chancellor, repeated that the £20 billion would come through “efficiency savings” and not key services.
Documents produced by several of the SHAs show how the cuts are, in fact, expected to fall on hospital services.
In the South East Coast region, which covers Surrey, Kent and Sussex, up to £1.6 billion must be saved.
A document marked “restricted” and circulated among SHA board members suggests 10,000 of the region’s 100,000 NHS workers may lose their jobs. “The new financial environment demands that the trend in workforce growth must be reversed,” it said, adding bosses must reduce employee numbers by 10 per cent “or further”.
The document said staffing in the acute sector, covering hospitals, “can be expected to decline faster and further” than elsewhere.
Job losses will be “starting in the coming year”, it states. Mr Brown has repeatedly promised Labour will not start making significant cuts to public spending until 2011. A spokesman for the South East Coast SHA said the document was a discussion paper and not a final plan.
In London, which faces £5 billion in cuts, documents show managers believe up to £2 billion can be saved from community care budgets, which cover GPs’ surgeries. This would include “changing how patients get in contact with and receive services, such as through greater use of the internet and email”.
An internal presentation by NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, which spans Sheffield, York, Hull and north Lincolnshire, made similar suggestions. The SHA, which is expected to make about £2 billion in cuts, proposed directing more patients to “teleservices such as NHS Direct”. Meanwhile, £450 million could be saved in London by banning clinical procedures “that have little or no benefit to those receiving them, for example some joint replacements”.
NHS North West, which oversees Greater Manchester and Liverpool, is expected to make about £2 billion savings. It is preparing to close an A&E unit in Rochdale during evenings before scrapping it altogether next year.
In the East region, covering Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk, up to £2 billion is to be cut. The SHA proposes shifting services out of hospitals and making social workers take over some treatments. It is estimated that savings of about £2.4 billion will need to be made by NHS West Midlands, £2 billion in the South West, £1.3 billion in South Central, £1 billion in the North East and £800 million in the East Midlands.
All the Department of Health spokesman could say- as a way of confirmation: “We will be clear with trusts that they must not make short term cuts that harm patient care.”
One Comment so far:Posted by: Health Direct on April 8, 2010
Tags: Andy Burnham, broken labour promises, brown, Gordon-Stalinist-Brown, labour, labour cutbacks, labour liars, Labour shambles, labour spin, National Health Service, NHS, nhs cash shortages, NHS closures, nhs cutbacks