New Keep Our NHS Public Co-Chair and health campaigner Dr Tony O’Sullivan listed the dangers of the plans to devolve health budgets to five London boroughs in an interview for London Live yesterday (15 December).
Tony pointed out the biggest flaw to Hunt’s announcement for “Devo-London”: a massive and growing funding gap between demand for local-authority services and the budgets they are given. Social care faces savage cuts at the same time as NHS England has promised Jeremy Hunt £22billion ‘savings’ ANNUALLY by 2019/20.
Supporters of this rushed through measure, such as London’s Mayor Boris Johnson who would be ‘overseeing’ the process, are proudly proclaiming London’s devolution to be “democracy in action” and “geared to the individual”. In stark contrast, as devolved health budgets roll out, London’s health services will rapidly be at risk of more severe cuts. The spectre of charging for services transferred to means-tested social care will not be far behind.
What in reality does devolution bring? This is hardly the dream of local democracy the hype is leading people to believe. The Secretary of State no longer has a duty to provide universal health care, and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) no longer have responsibility for universal health provision for the population in their area. There are very real dangers associated with the devolution of health budgets to local authorities. We may end up with the worst of all worlds in both health and social care unless there is real consultation and safeguards against these risks.
KONP believes it will need new legislation and a powerful movement behind it to win back our national health service. Rushed-through devolution without guarantees that services will be protected should infuriate Londoners and people in other areas facing imposed devolution: act before it is too late and join us.
Watch Tony’s interview (link to YouTube)