Overshadowing all is this week’s publication of Lansley’s Health Reform bill, now expected Wednesday. Nationally the bill has had strong opposition from many unions and sectors of the health service, and locally no detectable support from either the GPs or patients said to be awaiting ’empowerment’ under the thumb of an NHS Commissioning Board. Keep Our NHS Public has many suggestions for registering opposition to this bill, and the latest news about it. Of course there are also some opportunities coming up soon to take to the streets about it – and everything else under threat from the latest thefts from public services – at a national demo on 29 Jan and a local one 5 Feb. Andrew Lansley is on Radio 4’s PM programme all this week, and you can submit questions for Lansley here, some selected to be put to him on Friday’s programme at 5pm.
Local NHS changes coming up
Apparently the local PCT will not entirely disappear in April, but continue to exist as a local commissioning management arm and will continue to own FHC for at least the next two years. In the meantime, however, all PCT management staff – from Chief Exec Helen Pettersen on down – will be required to reapply for their jobs next month, with medical staff being transferred to a new entity called ‘Whittington Health’, a combination of Whittington Hospital, and ‘the Haringey and Islington Provider Alliance’: the employer bits the two PCTs. This is driven not by the bill but by the ‘efficiency savings’ policy in place before the election, ratcheted up in both size and speed by the Coalition. Under the mooted reforms, Whittington Health will have to become a Foundation Trust in the next two years.
It will also have to bid for contacts from the GP consortia on an ‘open’ market. The bill abolishes this and similar ex-NHS employer trusts’ ‘favoured’ status. Their reps at the last HWB meeting 6 January seemed confident that Whittington Health would win sufficient contracts, but gave only a vague idea what would be ‘sufficient’ and and appeared to have none about what happens if they don’t win sufficient to stay solvent. One thing Lansley seems keen to keep from earlier Labour reforms is the oxymoronic ‘Co-operation and Competition Panel’, now with the added horror of private firms being able to legally challenge contracts they don’t feel were awarded with due ‘competition’. It’s unsaid whether patients and staff will have a similar route to complain about lack of co-operation… Or even how the effects of either will be monitored, as patient stats spin off into a remote national bureau, and local councils are left holding the bag for public health advertising.
Back to FHC
The reps said that they ‘intend to stay at all existing buildings’ and affirmed that there were specifically no plans to move their staff out of Finsbury Health Centre.
SaveFHC has also been pressing the PCT to release some money for the options appraisal at least, and to make sure that the entire proceeds from the sale of the Pine St building next door go towards maintenance and refurbishment of FHC. The Islington Gazette published a letter on the subject last week.
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