Socialist Worker

Hospitals rationing care are rapped—but not funded

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2545

Cuts are destroying the NHS

Cuts are destroying the NHS (Pic: Socialist Worker)


NHS England has told local health bosses to stop rationing services to patients living in pain. Hospitals have been told to stop cutting some services—but haven’t been given extra funds.

West Midlands health bosses are denying care to slash costs.

Three clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) drew up plans in January to deny hip and knee replacements unless pain stopped patients from sleeping or carrying out daily tasks.

Under pressure from the royal colleges, the NHS has now said that CCGs should follow central rationing guidelines.

While this intervention is welcome, it will not solve the problem of local health bosses introducing rationing in response to runaway deficits.

This is just the latest sign of how the NHS crisis is hitting patients.

Years of budget cuts and privatisation, combined with the decimation of local authority-run social care, are pushing the health service past breaking point.

This will only be made worse by the Tories’ new plans to slash hundreds of hospital departments and services across England.

Dividing England up into 44 “footprints”, the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) aim to slash £22 billion under the guise of improving patient care.

They claim that they’re “centralising” and “consolidating” services for clinical, not financial reasons.

But while some specialised procedures, such as dealing with stroke patients, are best done in larger hubs, the Tories’ plans are for wholesale cuts.

An eight year old boy died from a heart attack last month after being taken to Worcestershire Royal Hospital.

 
Video—voices from the Our NHS march
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Callum Cartlidge lived just 1.9 miles from Alexandra Hospital near Redditch, but was driven 21 miles to Worcester.

Cuts to the Alexandra’s accident and emergency (A&E) department mean ambulance crews are now instructed not to take children there.

If the Tories successfully push through the STPs, there will be more avoidable child deaths.

Another part of the STPs is shifting the burden onto “primary care” that’s provided in the community.

But social care has already been decimated—and GP services are facing large budget cuts.

Over 100 hundred people attended a meeting in Slaithwaite, near Huddersfield, on Saturday to protest against plans to slash their GP surgery’s budget by 44 percent.

These plans come as the CCG is trying to axe Huddersfield Royal Infirmary’s A&E—under the rationale of providing care closer to home.

Campaigns like those in Slaithwaite show the potential to resist the Tories’ assault on the NHS.

The magnificent 200,000-strong national demonstration for the NHS showed how we can bring those fights together.

A regional demonstration for the NHS in Leeds has been called on Saturday 1 April to build on that potential.

Their local Kirklees council is among 26 local authorities that have already refused to sign up to the STPs—a major roadblock for the Tories.

Campaigns can push more local authorities to refuse to sign up to them.


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