The numerous NHS reorganisations have led to unnecessary costs, the disproportionate growth in admin and management, disruption, and staff demoralisation. Many of the changes we have seen were solely about making the NHS fit for privatisation. Cameron promised no top-down reorganisation – but that is exactly what we got, along with a £20 billion cut in the NHS budget, 24,000 nurses jobs gone nationally and millions of pounds paid out on compulsory redundancies, etc.. Gloucestershire PCT alone paid more than £1.2 million – this is money that should have gone into medical services, staff training and patient care. Apart from the sums of money lost through job cuts, we must add the loss of experienced staff trained by and for the NHS.
Both the waste of resources and the growing involvement of private companies within the NHS is underlined by the commitment of NHS Gloucestershire to UK Specialist Hospitals, which the minutes of the Clinical Commissioning group Shadow Board meeting on 12.01.2012 show is guaranteed £5.6m of taxpayers money “regardless of the level of activity flow through the centres”. In other words, irrespective of provision of service, public NHS money will go to a private provider.
Yet private companies are doing spectacularly badly in the NHS.
Circle Health, which despite an operating loss of £34.97m, was able to take over the NHS hospital Hinchingbrooke, has had to ask for a £4m advance from local NHS authorities. From the outset there were warnings that cuts would have to be made.
As a start, Circle sacked half of its hospital cleaning staff in the first six months and now has a severe C-difficile outbreak (there has been a 166% increases in cases since they took over). Approx. £400,000 was wasted on hiring agency doctors and over 40 nurses have been sacked. Not surprisingly, patient and staff satisfaction has plummeted.
Despite financial difficulties, shareholders of Circle Holdings have donated more than £1.4 million to the Tory Party. Perhaps they feel optimistic about the potential of owning a 10 year franchise worth £1.2 billion to run the first ever privatised NHS Hospital at Hinchingbrooke. Patients and staff will be less than optimistic at the prospect of private companies running the NHS and further expensive top-down reorganisation. Apart from millions more spent in “shedding” qualified staff, we can look forward to more chaos, more cuts and the decimation of free universal health care in this country.
Locally we have a particular concern about Circle since we discovered that two Gloucestershire Tory MPs received donations totalling £8,000 from one of the extremely rich investors in Circle – the hedge fund manager Crispin Odey.