Thursday 7 May 2015

My Political Wish for Friday, the Repeal of the Health and Social Care Act 2012

The Health and Social Care Act has failed and needs to be replaced. Unfortunately it has failed on so many levels that to effectively modify it would mean ripping it apart and starting again.

Its focus was all local with no strategic control; we saw the effects of this with last year’s winter crisis in A&E Departments (Which actually was a failure in healthcare across the broad and especially in social care). The “Better Care Fund” has taken millions out of Primary Care funding to pay for short falls in Social Care funding. Private companies have not produced any benefits when they have taken over running NHS services. Hinchingbrooke wasn’t the only time a private company “handed back” an NHS contract. Also, the Kings Fund has stated that private healthcare companies are more expensive to run; NHS spends 5-6% on administration where private companies spend 15-30%.

As a Community Nurse, I have not seen any of the promised benefits of the Health and Social Care Act, though our workload has increased as the number of patients we care for has increased (This has been seen right across the NHS).

Whatever replaces it needs to both meet the needs of local communities but also needs to have a strategic control; otherwise we will repeat what happened last winter. It also needs to bring Social Care back under the control of the NHS, because at the moment there are too many agencies involved in it and too many gaps between them.

Whatever replaces it needs to be well funded, not cooking the books with “efficiency savings” budgeted in. Healthcare costs are rising faster than inflation (Look at the price of medications) and the number of patients needing treatment is also raising. A measly 1% increase is actually cutting healthcare funding in real terms (The coalition government has imposed 4% cuts to NHS funding year-on-year, even with promises to “Ring fence front-line services”).

Whatever replaces it needs to be legally sound. Over the years both the Conservatives and Labour have opened up the NHS to private tenders and contracts, this has brought the NHS under UK and EU competition laws. Repealing Health and Social Care Act maybe a legal nightmare and companies already with NHS contracts may demand millions in compensation.

Also, healthcare professionals, healthcare managers and patients need to be consulted about what replaces the Health and Social Care Act, it should not just be the idea of economists and politicians (as has happened all too often in the past). the Health and Social Care Act came as a shock to NHS staff and patients alike, it’s replacement should not.

Andy Burnham is talking a lot about “integration” in healthcare, but who is he listening to?

(This blog was originally written as part of the Nursing Standard’s Readers Panel, and appeared in an edited version in that section)


Saturday 2 May 2015

Vote, Vote, Vote, Maybe? (Part 6)

Further on yesterday's blog.

Yesterday afternoon I got an email reply from the Liberal Democrat candidate, Paul Reynolds. This morning, in the post, I received a letter from the Labour Candidate, Lyn Brown.

I suppose I should be happy now, four out of the five main candidates have finally replied to my email, but it all feels very hollow. How many of those replies would I have got if I hadn't badgered them through social media?

Yes, they are busy campaigning (So they say though I have seen very little of it in my area) but they are not doing it alone. They have assistants, other people involved in their campaigns, volunteers and an organised political part behind them. I emailed them with plenty of time, I spent my email out on the 5th April, and it was only when I started blogging about it, and sending links to those blogs directly to the candidates that I started to get replies from them, before that I hadn't even got an acknowledgement of my email.

As I posted yesterday, campaigning in my area has been pitiful, a handful of fliers pushed through our front door and that's all. I would love the chance to quiz these candidates face-to-face but I haven't see any local events or campaigning.

Is politics losing touch with the voters, is it being run just for the benefit of politicians or am I just getting too cynical?


Friday 1 May 2015

Vote, Vote, Vote, Maybe? (Part 5)

Events more on. The election is now only six days away and I move forward but only by half a step.

Lyn Brown (Labour Candidate) has confirmed that she will answer my questions but only by letter, because I’m one of her constituents (Which was only told to me yesterday). How long this letter will take to arrive I don’t know. I certainly don’t know if it will arrive before the election, and if it doesn’t then what is the point?

The silence from the Liberal Democrat candidate, Paul Reynolds, and the UKIP one, Jamie McKenzie, is almost deafening. I have emailed them again, asking for them to reply to me, but it is now twenty-six days since my first email and I don’t hold out much hope of a reply.

I have just done another internet search on Andy Uzoka (Christian Peoples Alliance) and Cydatty Bogie (Communities United Party) and I can still find no contact details for either of them. Are they even standing? And if so are they even serious candidates? It doesn’t feel like that the way the way they seem to be making themselves deliberately un-contactable.

I know I am sounding more and more cynical but that is the way I am feeling. When I started this I wanted to know my local candidates’ views and knowledge of the NHS and its issues. Now this has become a frustrating battle to get these people to just engage with me. They want to be my local MP, with all the influence, privilege and high salary (Especially compared to the average wages of someone living in West Ham) that comes with it, yet they can barely be bothered to acknowledge me, let alone answer my questions. Why do they think I’ll vote for them?

If this is the standard of people standing at this election then no wonder that people are so disillusioned with politics.