This week we have seen an NHS trust chair resign in protest at the unrealistic demands placed on the NHS by the government. This follows news last month that Theresa May has told NHS England CEO Simon Stevens that he will be accountable for NHS England's winter performance, shortly after Stevens himself spoke out over NHS funding.
The NHS is struggling as huge sums are wasted on marketisation, as epitomised by Virgin Care winning a (likely 7-figure) payout from the NHS after threatening to sue over a contract in Surrey that went to another firm. While no firm data exists for the current year, we would estimate that at least 10% of the NHS budget is now being frittered away on PFI, marketisation, outsourcing, agencies and consultancy fees.
Until the government takes some form of remedial action, the underfunding and marketisation of the NHS will persist. And so we predict that something has got to give.
Dr Alex Ashman, NHA Party co-leader, said:
"It is clear that the NHS has been set up for a fall this winter. Hospital chiefs are clear that the government isn't providing the cash to provide safe care provision this winter, and yet money continues to be wasted on costly contracts and court payouts to private firms like Virgin Care. Now we are seeing the consequences:
- NHS England are about to give in, warning they will extend waiting lists and/or ration treatments in order to balance the books.
- Hospital bosses are about to give in and quit their jobs, knowing that they will be made scapegoats if their trusts fail to cope in impossible conditions.
- Commissioning groups and local authorities are about to give in to pressure from the STP plans and will be forced to cut and close local hospital services.
- Hospitals and GP practices are already starting to give in and treat patients privately on NHS premises in order to raise funds. This is creating a two tier system where patients have to choose between paying money they may not have or missing out on timely treatment.
"I therefore reiterate the National Health Action Party's call for proper NHS funding, for an end to the wasteful marketisation of NHS services, and for the Prime Minister to take ultimate responsibility for the oncoming crisis that her government has fostered.
"Because something has got to give, and if it's not you Mrs May, it will be the NHS."
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Dr Ashman is a surgical registrar who joined the NHA in 2012 having seen first hand the effects of marketisation and privatisation on the NHS. He has been on the NHA national executive committee since 2013. He was elected to one of the party co-leader roles in December 2016.