Mr Mel Stride MP for Central Devon
You are probably aware that the NHS is in crisis. I am not being alarmist. I worked within it as a doctor and surgeon for 40 years. I loved my work but I did not enjoy the bumf. Most of this came out of political diktats - from all colours.
I have kept a close interest in OUR NHS since early retirement which came out of sickness. On top of doing a very busy and demanding job in orthopaedics and trauma, I was fighting alone in Torbay against Mrs Thatcher's internal market and for the life of our excellent single specialism Princess Orthopaedic Hospital in Exeter, the latter with good colleagues. Both battles were lost. The internal market doubled the cost of administration from 5% to c. 10% as I had predicted. The number of desks doubled and with them long and ridiculous titles like 'Patient Services Administrator'. I had to phone him often to have the detritus removed from the corridor to my fracture clinic. All this was not what the public might have expected from a Tory reform. Very few people know that £1.3 billion was added to a £30 billion budget as a result of Mrs T's monetarist dogma. But I do tell them in newspaper pieces, public meetings and on Youtube x2.
Dogma drove the next lot with Milburn's concordat made with Eamonn Butler, the disastrous PFI and a rush to reduce waiting lists against clinical priority. I was writing about OUR NHS in the Western Morning News in 2004/5 and in 2007 one piece was titled 'Our NHS, Going, Going, Gone'. You will see I speak as I find and not with slavish party adherence.
So where are we? I keep my ears and eyes open. The need for medical care grows steadily. But the hubs are noisy and the wheels about to come off. Everything, everything is being changed or dismantled. Take the draconian orders to close dozens of Community Hospital beds in Devon. I know better than anybody what is involved in getting patients safely and quickly out of hospital. I know that if more than a few percent of CH beds are closed, then the DGHs will grind to a halt.
The British public tend towards complacency and only reacts when there is hurt in the family. However, they are waking up. They are noticing daily diktats from NHS England - constant change. They hear scare stories as often. Colchester is in the cross hairs at present with no mention of a central factor - agency nursing (2.6 billion a year in England) and, I believe, locum medical staff.
Some might know that Mr Cameron promised no top down reorganisation before the election. They might with me consider the H&SC Act to be Richter Scale 10, the most massive upheaval of the eight I have experienced. And some in No 10 could not make head nor tail of the bill.
I have summarised the strategy as DESTABILISE > DEMORALISE (never lower than now) > DISMANTLE The process is well advanced.
The Efford Bill will claw back some sense. The Conservative Party might, might claw back some support.
For truth and with kind regards
David (Halpin FRCS)
ps Incidentally, I am very pleased to see TITP dealt with by Mr Efford in Part 4.
Mr Mel Stride MP for Central Devon 1-01-2015
Your Ref: MS/CW/3197 NHS (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill - Mr Clive Efford
Dear Mr Stride,
Thank you for your delayed letter of 22 December 2015. I have established that this is a generic letter even though my letter to you was entirely individual and not based on a template – say from “38 degrees” which I see has 1,962 members in the TQ13 code area. Incidentally, this organization which was set up by young people has helped restore some democracy with its energetic campaigns.
I should be grateful for your replying by e-mail if we correspond further. It is easier for that large majority of us without secretaries. Furthermore, the government encourages it at every turn and it will cut costs in the H of C.
I accept your statement that you are 'absolutely committed to the founding principles of the NHS'. I would not impugn your integrity by questioning it. However, your party and other parties, have people who want to see it extinguished as a whole or in large part. I have pointed out that Mrs Thatcher's internal market, which I fought with vigour, was the thin end of the wedge for OUR NHS.
The impetus behind her came from the Chicago School lead by Milton Friedman whose guiding 'principle' was that 'the profit motive was the only driver of individual energy and ingenuity.' But above you and people like Sarah Wollaston there are people like these.
Mr Oliver Letwin comes to mind – Minister of State, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster – Government Policy, Coalition Agreement. He is in the engine room. Recently Mr Francis Maude - “A senior minister has criticised the government’s £5.3bn central policy to save the NHS and claimed it will only work if private firms are given a much bigger role.” Lower down the food chain there are people like Mr Mark Simmonds who was a Shadow Health Minister up to 2010. His interests were with Circle Health, and not OUR NHS, and in advising it at £1,250 per hour/£50,000 pa from his inside track in the House. It was proper that I reported him to Mr Lyon, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards when he did not declare this income in a debate on the NHS. There are many others who, for political dogma or profit, would like to see the NHS on it back. This is a list of those MPs with links to private health care firms -
It is ironic that you fall back on New Labour policies and actions to defend the presence of a 6% proportion of private provision. I say there is only a cigarette paper thickness between the three main parties in a broad sweep of attitudes. I spoke in my letter of the actions of the execrable Alan Milburn and of other very injurious 'Labour' policies. There is no connection in philosophy and principle between New Labour and the people like Bevan that set the NHS and much other equitable things in train.
Whilst you and many other MPs adhere loyally to OUR NHS with more powerful people above undermining your good intentions, there is disintegration below you. I have summarised it in my original letter as destabilise > demoralise > dismantle. The evidence for this is vast. Cuts are real and the rationale for them defeated in part by a reduced tax income. ('Austerity' is not working. UK government debt amounted to £1,377 billion, or 88.1% of total GDP. The national debt is increasing by approximately £107 billion per annum, or around £2 billion each week.) Speeches claim the opposite.
One year ago, a poll of 10,000 nurses by Unison – 67% would leave the profession if they could. 80,000 people would like to train in nursing but either cannot afford that or cannot get the A level grades. So we employ overseas nurses and agency nurses - £2.5 billion cost.
Over 20% of GP posts in the Westcountry are vacant. Many dozens used to apply for one post. In the Doctor – 3 out of 4 GPs would like to leave.
We are short of over 3000 midwives. One dangerous delivery might mean severe cerebral palsy.
People from Poland are being trained as paramedics. Our own cannot survive on the low salaries.
You know how the A&E departments are 'up against it'. Rapid, safe discharge of patients from the DGHs is one way to relieve that but the left hand is closing community hospitals. This is against the background of a 100% cut in total hospital beds in 20 years. I was outraged to learn from a friend in London that a Deloitte director has been tasked with finding ways to close our precious community hospitals.
Mental health provision is negligent. The case of the late 13 yr old George Werb is illustrative -
We know of the 15 yr old girl who spent 3 nights in the Torbay police cells, and ACC Netherton said that in one year 720 mentally ill humans had spent time in police cells in Devon and Cornwall.
These are but a few examples. OUR NHS survives on the professionalism and self sacrifice of the staff. They are asked to do more and more. And what do I hear today? That Goldman Sachs are handing bonuses of £3 million to over 100 employees. How is that for Mr Cameron's 'we are all in it together' and with care workers on minimum wages subsidising their travel from clients?
The Health and Social Care Act has been disastrous in its effects as predicted by all professional bodies. The promise made by Mr Cameron that there would be 'no top down reorganisation' adds disgrace.
You believe in the OUR NHS. You must join with a large body of MPs on both sides to rescue it. The first thing I would do is to rebuild general practice.
For truth and with kind regards
David Halpin MB BS FRCS
To view a video talk on the current state of the NHS by David Halpin, Click Here.