Monday, January 15, 2018

Replying to MP fob-off over the NHS Crisis

I wrote to my MP, John Penrose (Con Weston super Mare) about the #NHSCrisis. He wrote back with the stock Tory answer, which is to quote a few figures about Government spending. (see the bottom of this post) I have written back to his secretary who sent the email, as John and I have a difficulty over the veracity of his statements about planning permission for fracking.

Dear Charlotte Beaupere

Thank you for your email.

You assert that "the NHS is not being starved of cash", and quote some numbers. However, numbers always need to be put into context.

First, on international comparisons, it is perfectly clear that the NHS is starved of cash on a per capita basis in comparison to similar countries. 

Second, it is also only too clear that NHS funding has decreased overall as a percentage of GDP since this Government came into power in 2010:

There are several other demand side factors which amount to something like an 8% shortfall in the NHS budget.
  1. PFI repayments reduce available NHS funds by about 8%.
  2. Lansley's reforms cost about £3bn
  3. Too many staff cuts has contributed to high agency staff fees
  4. "Efficiency savings" have continued to weaken the efficiency of management decisions
  5. Health inflation due to population increase adds 3-4% to NHS demand each year
  6. Local authority budget cuts lead to social care deficiencies which cause loss of available hospital beds (and the bed ratio is already at the bottom of the table of  comparable countries).
The reason for any government to exist is to protect its vulnerable citizens from significant threat.

In the case of the NHS, the Government has failed to do this, as can seen by the increase in trolley waits. Please see the attached file NHSTrolleyWaits.

All neglect of the NHS in the name of finance works against the fact that an effective health service actually stimulates the economy of a country.

In the light of these facts, I would ask again - will you ask my MP speak on my behalf to Prime Minister Theresa May and request that the NHS gets an urgent injection of funding?

Thank you

Dr Richard Lawson

On 15/01/2018 17:01, BEAUPERE, Charlotte wrote:
Dear Dr Lawson

Thank you for contacting me about NHS services. You're right that, even though there's been more money in NHS budgets than ever before, and in spite of bigger and more extensive preparations to deal with 'winter pressures' too, services have still been under pressure over Christmas.

But the underlying cause isn't that the NHS is somehow being starved of cash, as some of the more party-political commentators would like to claim. Over the last 7 years both the coalition and the current Conservative Government have steadily increased NHS funding. Despite very tight public finances, before the recent budget you and I as taxpayers were already going to spend an extra £10 billion a year on the NHS by 2020/21. And, most recently, the Chancellor announced an extra £2.8 billion over the next three years for day to day services and £3.5 billion of capital investment by 2022-23. That means 800,000 more NHS operations and treatments, plus £2 billion more on new drugs. It also means that, by 2020, everyone will be able to access GP services at evenings and weekends.

So why have services been under pressure over Christmas? The reason isn't that funding hasn't risen - it clearly has - but rather that demand for medical services has gone up even faster. That's where the NHS reform plans developed by the Chief Executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, come in. His team says that the NHS needs to reform itself internally, to move more money out of bureaucracy and into the front line of patient care, as well as keeping more patients out of hospitals in the first place, through improved prevention and allowing more treatments to happen in GP surgeries or through district nurses at home too. He's also proposing caps on expensive agency staff (and training more NHS nurses instead) and management consultants, and introducing central procurement rules.

As you'll appreciate, these changes are fundamental, structural reforms. They aren't something which can be solved by a emergency injection of short term cash. This year's winter planning and preparations started back in April and May, so last-minute 'emergency funding' isn't the answer at all, in spite of what the email you've been asked to send me by 38 degrees would like to pretend. The NHS will need still more cash in future, and I will personally support further increases in its budget as a result. But it also needs the slow, steady, painstaking underlying reforms which Simon Stevens is proposing as well, rather than quick fixes or headline soundbites instead.

Yours sincerely,

John Penrose
MP for Weston-super-Mare

From: Richard Lawson

Sent: 09 January 2018 12:10

Dear John Penrose,

I’m deeply concerned that our hospitals have reached breaking point this winter, and I’m worried what this means for patients.

This crisis hasn’t happened by accident. In my view it is the result of NHS underfunding. Your party has been in charge of the country for the last seven years, and I'd like you as my Conservative MP to take your fair share of responsibility.

As my MP, please will you speak on my behalf to Prime Minister Theresa May and demand the NHS gets an urgent injection of funding?

Many thanks for your time - I’ll be waiting for your response.

Yours sincerely,

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