PRESS RELEASE: NHS watchdog gagged as staff levels plummet

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For immediate release: Wednesday 14 October 2015

The government has gone out of its way to suppress the truth about unsafe NHS staffing levels, by brow-beating the very agency which should have been raising the alarm.

A report in this week’s Health Service Journal has highlighted the inevitable consequences of appalling under-investment in staff training by handing over this responsibility to Foundation Trusts themselves, who are now under massive financial pressure to cut costs (hence services) even more.

The government’s response? To lean on NICE to stop them publishing a report on safe staffing in an attempt to avoid the blame. So much for “openness”, so much for “valuing the NHS”. Made yet worse by the chair of NICE demonstrating precisely no resolve to oppose the gagging attempt.

This government does not care about the NHS. It does not care if people are put at risk. All it cares about is profit. What is the price for any lives lost on the wards, as staff levels plummet back to and beyond the abysmal neglect witnessed at Mid-Staffs?

 Keep Our NHS Public’s Co-Chair, Sue Richards:

“We have a Secretary of State for Health who constantly escapes from being held to account for his actions and inaction. As the NHS (Reinstatement) Bill 2015 makes clear, the Health and Social Care Bill 2011 removed key duties from the Secretary of State. Jeremy Hunt continues to behave as though someone else is responsible for the NHS, and he is just there as the patient’s friend, to rap the NHS on its knuckles when it does not do well enough. No Jeremy, you are responsible and you get the blame for when things go wrong.

“In those heady days when the government thought the NHS could be a self-managing market, the Department ceased its work on assessing future staffing needs and arranging for recruitment and training to take place. Instead, Foundation and other trusts were handed the job. They seem to have decided they could free ride on others, and did not invest sufficiently in training.

 “Jeremy Hunt’s key action appears to have been to get his office to lean on the ‘independent’ NICE to stop them publishing a report on safe staffing. To his shame, the chair of NICE caved in to the pressure, thus damaging the credibility of his organisation as well as to allowing the government to cover its back on the sheer incompetence of what has gone on in the last few years. Who is going to pay for it? Not Jeremy. Patients will pay, as there are too few nurses to meet their needs. Somewhere there is another mid-staffs hospital waiting to happen.”


Editors’ Notes

Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are 46 local groups, plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [1,2] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles. Further details:

KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:

07870 757 309

[email protected]

[email protected]


Facebook: Keep-Our-NHS-Public


[1] Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigely, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press.

Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin

Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press

Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4.

Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.

[2] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models

[Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8.

Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon.

Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]

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