Union blames Government for NHS crisis

THE Government is to blame for the financial crisis facing the NHS in Suffolk, a health union claimed last night.A report commissioned by UNISON says historic under-funding of the county's services, frequent and wasteful reorganisations and major problems for Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) because of the “payment by results” system have all led to the county's crippling debts.

THE Government is to blame for the financial crisis facing the NHS in Suffolk, a health union claimed last night.

A report commissioned by UNISON says historic under-funding of the county's services, frequent and wasteful reorganisations and major problems for Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) because of the “payment by results” system have all led to the county's crippling debts.

It also claims that Whitehall has continually ignored protests, petitions and campaigns by local people.

The report, which was released this morning, examines the policies and decisions which have caused the current situation in the NHS in Suffolk, which has seen some trusts cutting services in a bid ease multi-million pound deficits.


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Geoff Reason, regional head of health for UNISON eastern, said: “The report makes for depressing reading.

“We all know that services are being cut and jobs are being lost, yet, last year, the NHS performed at a high level, meeting Government targets and treating more patients than ever before.

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“People will rightly ask 'Why is this now being lost as more and more financial restrictions are being introduced?'”

Researched by David Lister, from the pressure and campaigning group London Health Emergency, the report, called Suffolk Punched, also predicts further trouble ahead as the Strategic Health Authority (SHA) reviews services across the region.

Mr Reason said: “We suspect this will mean further cuts and closures, dressed up as improvements. The classic example of this is the idea of treating more patients in their own homes - while hospital services are being axed, the new services at community level are not in place and the funds are not there to invest in those services.

“Perhaps the greatest act of political courage these days is to admit to being wrong - perhaps [health secretary] Patricia Hewitt would like to reflect on that thought. I doubt the people of Suffolk will forget if she doesn't reverse these damaging policies now.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said the NHS was changing across the country and that a shift to community-based care would lead to faster, better and more convenient access for patients.

“The NHS is also looking at the safest and most effective way of delivering care,” she said.

“This does not mean wholesale closures of district general hospitals but it does mean that NHS clinicians and managers need to work with local communities to decide on the best organisation of services for patients in their areas.

“Any decision on significant changes to services will only be made after full public consultation with local people.”

craig.robinson@eadt.co.uk

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