Properties sold and future disposals by NHS Property Services

Make sure you check the second tab of “Future Disposals” which goes not yet include East Devon community hospitals – but you can bet it soon will.

“Doctors’ union accuses government of privatising NHS”

Doctors have accused the government of “consciously” creating the crisis in NHS hospitals in order to pave the way for a private sector takeover.

Delegates at the British Medical Association’s annual representative meeting in Bournemouth voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion that they were told amounted to a verdict of conspiracy rather than incompetence.

It has prompted a row with the Department of Health, who said in an official statement that the motion had “no relationship with reality”.

Doctors agreed that “the crisis in NHS hospitals has been consciously created by the government, in order to accelerate its transformation plans for private sector takeover of healthcare in England”.

Proposing the motion, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, the incoming chairman of the union, said that quality and safety in the NHS were threatened by demands for efficiency savings. He said: “NHS costs are rising at 4 per cent per annum but with only a 2 per cent annual uplift to the NHS budget in coming years something has to give and the reality is clear to doctors, patients, the public and indeed everyone except government.

“The general election was a wake-up call, rejecting the political pretence of trying to squeeze a quart into a pint. In the name of safety and quality, austerity and savage cuts have to stop. We are a rich nation, we are a civilised society, the public deserve a safe, civilised health service. We cannot and must not accept anything less.”

Dr Nagpaul said that legislation that forced health service commissioners to tender services, or GPs to send their patients to private treatment centres, proved “this is deliberate and it does need to be challenged”.

Dr Grant Ingrams, opposing the motion, asked the meeting: “Do you really believe this and preceding governments would be capable of such clear thinking?”

He said: “The current parlous state of the NHS has not been due to political conspiracy, but is due to political cock-ups.”

Dr Mark Porter, the outgoing chairman, said that while there was evidence of more use of private services within the NHS, albeit from a low base, “there is not the same evidence that this is a deliberate conspiracy”.

A BMA spokeswoman said: “The rise in the number of private providers has led to the fragmentation of care, which makes the delivery of high-quality care more difficult.

“Politicians need to urgently address the funding and staffing crisis in our NHS, otherwise services simply won’t be able to cope with rising demand.”

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “This motion sadly has no relationship with reality — while, of course, there are pressures on the frontline, the government is now spending more than any in history on the NHS, has left doctors themselves to decide on use of the private sector, and public satisfaction is now the highest it has been in all but three of the last 20 years.”

Separately, doctors expressed concern that patients were increasingly turning to crowdfunding to get appropriate wheelchairs.

Dr Hannah Barham-Brown, a 29-year-old junior doctor from London, had to fund her own chair after being diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome two years ago.

She said: “The guidelines for getting chairs now are so strict, wheelchair services across the country are being privatised and it’s just getting harder and harder to get access.”

She said the standard NHS chair weighed around 20kg and she would have needed to be pushed everywhere. Her own £2,000 chair, towards which the NHS offered only £140 voucher, allows her to work full-time and independently.”

Source: The Times (paywall)

And to add insult to injuries in the UK : the sixth richest country in the world

“Ambulances are set to be given far longer to reach 999 calls in a controversial bid to ease spiralling pressures on emergency services.
Handlers could be given four times as long to assess calls after a study of 10 million calls found too many cases being counted as hitting official targets, without patients getting the help they need. …”

(Source: Daily Telegraph)


“Patients would be turned away from GP surgeries when they get too busy, under plans to create a “black-alert” system for overstretched family doctors.

Under the proposals, which have the support of the Royal College of GPs, surgeries would be able to shut their doors on days when they believe they cannot provide safe care to any more people. …”

Source: The Times (paywall)


More people are unhappy with the NHS than satisfied for the first time in a poll of the public run by Britain’s doctors, and 70% say they think the health service is going in the wrong direction.

The growing public concern will be revealed by Dr Mark Porter, leader of the British Medical Association, who will tell his annual representative meeting in Bournemouth on Monday that the government is “trying to keep the health service running on nothing but fumes”. …”

Was “smug” Swire responsible for the Seaton/Sidmouth switch?

Owl says: we all know he is a pal of Jeremy Hunt.

Seaton County Councillor Martin Shaw (Independent East Devon Alliance) Facebook page:

“Was Hugo Swire behind the Seaton-Sidmouth switch? A smug Swire told BBC’s Sunday Politics this morning that East Devon had more community hospitals than western Devon and than the national average. He failed to mention that it has many more over-85s too. He backed the NEW Devon CCG’s plans to replace community hospital beds with care at home, and said we must ’embrace change’.

Swire knows that beds in Exmouth and Sidmouth, in his constituency, are safe from closure. So he is happy to write off Seaton (which he no longer represents after boundary changes a few years back) and Honiton.
Swire’s self-satisfied comments raise the question of whether he played any role in the CCG’s bizarre, unexplained, last-minute switch of 24 beds from Seaton to Sidmouth. Clearly had the CCG stuck with its original preferred option of closing beds in Sidmouth, they would have given Claire Wright a huge issue – which might well have seen her taking Swire’s seat in the general election.

Readers will recall that during the consultation, Swire was already saying that if beds had to go, they should stay in Sidmouth. Did Sir Hugo, or Tories acting on his behalf, lobby the CCG? How did the CCG respond?
Swire’s colleague Neil Parish MP told me and other Seaton councillors that the decision ‘smells’. Whose smell was it?

I appeared on the same edition of Sunday Politics as Swire, but was not in the studio to respond to him. Here I am being interviewed! (YOU WILL BE ABLE WATCH THE FULL PROGRAMME ON BBC iPLAYER SOON.)”

“Staffing crisis leaves NHS on brink of another Mid Staffs disaster, nurses warn”

“Nurses are warning Theresa May that dire staffing shortages have left the NHS on the brink of another Mid Staffs hospital scandal, putting hundreds of lives at risk.

Royal College of Nursing chief executive Janet Davies said the Government has failed to respond to clear and alarming signals that the tragedy she called “inevitable” is about to happen again.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, Ms Davies pointed to a perfect storm of collapsing foreign arrivals in the profession due to Brexit, plummeting domestic applications, and chronic low pay and high stress pushing people out.

NHS leak reveals ‘shocking’ secret plans for cuts in London hospitals
She said the RCN’s national day of action this week, kicking off a summer of lobbying, is a “final warning” to ministers to take action or face its nurses striking for the first time ever.

The Independent also revealed on Saturday how the number of GPs seeking specialist help for substance abuse and mental health problems is “increasing day on day”, amid fears the NHS is coming apart at the seams.

In the wake of the Conservatives’ failure to win a Commons majority in the election, even Tory backbenchers have been calling for a new approach to a public sector strangled by cuts.

Ms Davies said the long warned-of crisis in nursing, exacerbated by the Government’s approach, has now become so acute that the NHS is in grave danger of suffering another catastrophe on the scale of Mid Staffs.

She went on: “They are risking it again. They are aware of the problem, but their solutions are not working.”

A Government failure to properly heed warnings is already in the spotlight following the Grenfell Tower fire, with ministers having neglected to implement a long called-for safety review that experts say could have helped prevent the blaze that has so far claimed 79 lives.

The RCN reports that there should be 340,000 nurses in the system to make sure patients are safe according to official standards, but one in nine posts – some 40,000 – are unfilled. In some areas of the country it is one in three.

The shortage is likely to worsen as the foreign staffing the NHS depends on has fallen off a cliff since the country’s referendum to quit the European Union.

Official data shows an enormous 95 per cent drop in EU nurses registering since the vote. In July last year 1,304 came – in April this year, just 46.

Ms Davies said: “All around the country we have been very dependent on recruiting people from Europe, but also from the wider world. The NHS has never been without international recruitment.”

She points to the uncertainty created by Brexit and the poor conditions for nurses in the UK contributing to the collapse in numbers.

“We do know that people aren’t applying, the figures just aren’t there. There has been a 95 per cent reduction,” she said.

“People are not applying to come to the UK, because when they did apply they were not coming just for a job, they were coming for a career.

“Nursing is not just a fill-in job.”

The other source of new talent, people coming through UK nursing courses, has also been hit as 2017 marks the first year undergraduates will have to pay tuition fees rising to £9,000.

Official figures are yet to confirm the exact number of would-be nurses starting in September, but data from UCAS points to a 23 per cent reduction on last year.

In new applicants above the age of 25, who bring vital life experience and more often work in the community, where ministers want more care to take place, it is a 26 per cent drop.

Ms Davies said: “My conversation with some universities show a significant drop in applications in some areas.

“I’ve heard from individual universities that in some places they have as few as three people applying. It is pretty dramatic.”

With a tightening on the number of new nurses ahead, it is vital to hold on to those already in a system that Ms Davies says is at breaking point.

Nurses have not seen any sort of pay rise for the best part of a decade, with wages first frozen and then capped at a below-inflation 1 per cent. This year the cap will mean nurses losing £3,000 in real terms, she says.

The RCN reports its members taking on second jobs to make ends meet, including a window-cleaning round and working shifts in a supermarket.

Those who continue are on understaffed shifts, tired, facing more work than they can handle, and with their mental health under pressure, Ms Davies explains.

The strain is showing elsewhere in the NHS too, with referrals to the GP Health Service surpassing expectations since its launch in late January, while medics in all fields are seeking help “in escalating numbers” according to Clare Gerada, former chair of the Royal College of GPs.

Dr Gerada told The Independent stress and burn-out faced by family doctors with increasingly heavy workloads means GPs developing severe depression and anxiety, with some turning to alcohol and substance misuse to cope with the pressure.

The BMA warned earlier this year that two in every five GPs are planning to quit the NHS amid a crisis of “perilously” low morale.

Ms Davies went on: “It’s not being able to do the things that they know they would want to do in their heart, that makes nurses go off their shift crying.

“Lifting a cap on pay and paying people a living pay rise, would make a huge difference.”

In criticism aimed directly at the Prime Minister, she said a “shockwave” had coursed through the profession when Ms May responded to a nurse worried about making ends meet, not with a thought-out answer, but with a campaign slogan, telling her there is “no magic money tree”.

She said: “It was the most insulting thing I have heard for a long time – the idea that the nurse doesn’t understand economics.

She added: “We understand the problem. The question that has to be asked is how much do we want to fund our health service?”

The day of action will see protests across the country on Tuesday aimed at raising awareness of the crisis, with the specific message to Ms May’s government that it is a “final warning”.

Ms Davies said: “This is nurses saying I’m going to leave this profession if nothing changes. This is a last chance. No matter what we’ve been saying, no matter what our organisation has been doing, it hasn’t made any difference.

“We are really going to try and get this cap lifted and try get them to see the effect this is having. If they don’t then that is when we have said we will go to a ballot.

“It’s the last thing that nurses want to do – go on strike. Our members have never been on strike, but they are stuck for what more they can do.”

She explained that a strike would not mean a mass walkout and that the RCN’s constitution does not allow the body to do anything that would harm patients.

It is more likely that action would target specific settings and could cause delays in non-emergency care. When junior doctors first went on strike they continued to provide cover in settings that provide life or death care, such as A&E, intensive care, maternity services, acute medicine and emergency surgery.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “NHS nurses do a fantastic job in delivering world class patient care and their welfare is a top priority for this Government.

“That’s why we have 12,100 more on our wards since 2010 and 52,000 in training. The Prime Minister also said last week that we want to give EU nationals the same rights as British citizens going forward.”