The deliberate, sustained and massive under-funding of our NHS is not only continuing, it is now being incorporated into sweeping regional changes dressed up as “transformation measures” that will force debt-ridden NHS organisations to make yet more draconian cuts – and almost certainly cost jobs.
The imposition of so-called “footprint” areas, which will force through major cuts, is being imposed on NHS trusts throughout England without a shred of public consultation, or even the common decency to attempt to make sure the public is aware of this latest all-out attack on the NHS’s already beleaguered funding.
So much for this government’s false promise of “No more top-down reorganisations of the NHS”, as NHS bosses are forced into agreeing a raft of measures that can only mean cuts to services and staff – or they get even less – at the behest of Whitehall.
The author of a survey which looked at the finances of 155 struggling NHS trusts in England, Keep Our NHS Public Secretary Dr John Lister, was in no doubt as to the cause (blogging from the TUC’s “touchstone blog“):
“My survey of 155 acute trust finance reports shows 25 have deficits over £25m – and the average deficit is almost £15m. Acute trusts deficits totalled £2.3bn by December.
“In January Jeremy Hunt demanded NHS trust managers clear deficits before they receive any of the inadequate £1.8 billion ‘transformation fund’ in 2016-17. He included weasel words urging trusts to balance the books ‘without compromising patient care’. But he must know this can’t be done.
“But the Tories could pay a heavy political price for their decision to reduce the NHS to a cash-strapped shadow of the service they inherited in 2010. The junior doctors’ dispute has given a clear signal to the government where public trust lies. Red ink on balance sheets might not motivate voters but closures and waiting lists do. Most of those effected are over 65 – many voted Tory in the last election.”
You cannot divorce the effects of years of under-funding from the growing attacks on NHS staff terms and conditions: they are different wounds inflicted by the same government, obsessed with the idea that “private is better” no matter what, and determined to apply market principles to the NHS despite the mountains of evidence screaming that this is exactly the wrong thing to do.
Keep Our NHS Public will continue to fight these attacks on the NHS. Whatever they might be labelled. The only “transformation” this latest one will achieve is to transform the NHS from what is left of a public service, with staff struggling to cope, to one that is little more than a brand-name for a broken, partly privatised service, with ordinary people struggling to pay – or suffering for want of it. This is the road to injustice. These are the “footprints” leading to an early grave. Help us fight to save the NHS from it. Please, join or donate today.