I attended the debate on Thursday night at Calder High School between local representatives of political parties and thankfully came away with a clearer picture of what is taking place in the biggest review of health care services in a long time. People are naturally anxious about what is going on, especially as communication to date has been quite poor, despite road shows. Initial scares came with the talk of moving Aand E to Huddersfield, but it soon became apparent that this is only one part of a much bigger shakeup. The Right Care Right Time Right Place policy originally came about to deal with one group of patients, those with long term, multiple illnesses. This has been done locally by our NHS Trust, CCG, and doctors. Now being called Care Closer to Home, it is styled on a community health care system. Trials in other parts of the country have shown it is cheaper than hospital care, and what people want, care closer to their home. What is frightening a lot of people is the threat of privatisation of services across the NHS. Since New Labour handed NHS Policy making to management consultants like McKinsey, and think tanks like the Nuffield Trust and the King’s Fund, there seems to be a trend to privatise along American lines. This seems incredible to me as our Health Service has been the envy of America for decades. I hear that services are being privatised locally and put out to tender, and the number of hospital beds is being reduced.The proposals are based on the fact that we can’t afford to fund the NHS properly, but this is not true. We are one of the wealthiest countries, and spend less per capita than other comparable countries. The problem seems to be financing the cost of PFI deals which is amazingly greater than the NHS budget. Calderdale was one of the first in the country and the most expensive. Although in the black until recently, it now has to find £20m of savings and can only identify £7.7m at present.PFI’s not only charge on buildings but inflated cleaning and maintenance charges. Most PFI contracts are now owned by private equity companies, mostly held overseas, away from the British tax system. The Government could buy back all of these contracts at a reduced rate, and this would give financial security and seem a better alternative . Access to patient records is another concern with suggestions of selling information. Some fear there is an agenda to create a private health care system to fit in with the business model of global pharmaceutical and big data companies. Most GP’S oppose this, but can see that if a private company can provide a service better and cheaper, then it has to be looked at, but large scale privatisation is not what most people want. Our MP Craig Whittaker has spent time in A and E in Halifax, and said it smashed it’s winter targets last year, and one GP’s surgery in Calder Valley is the best in the country. So why would we want change? My big concern is that billions have been spent already on swapping and changing, which has only taken away from the front line services. Patients require clean hospitals, speedy treatment etc. In 2012, 84 per cent rated their experience as excellent. They were involved in decisions about their health care, treated with respect and dignity, and had confidence in the healthcare staff treating them. Will they be able to say that in the future? I am concerned that top heavy management systems have been put in place at the expense of looking after doctors and nurses .I do not want to see an exodus from the profession as we have seen in teaching. We all appreciate that there isn’t an endless supply of money in the NHS, but we all want to see what there is spent wisely.
Conservative Luddenden Foot ward