The buck stops anywhere but government

09_december_2015A letter a day to number 10. No 1,280

Wednesday 09 December 2015.

Dear Mr Cameron,

In an article entitled ‘NHS rationing ‘is denying patients care’ as cash crisis deepens’ the Guardian reports that people are dying because the NHS is having to ration treatments. Care rationing is not new, the Telegraph was reporting it in 2012, what is different is that it is escalating to affect critical conditions, like cancer. A cancer sufferer was denied stem cell treatment that could have saved her life and was given palliative care instead, she died.

86% of the 536 hospital doctors and 213 GPs who took part in a survey of doctors said rationing was occurring “for financial reasons”.

Apparently an ‘NHS England spokeswoman said: “The basis on which people receive NHS care – within the funds parliament makes available – should always reflect their ability to benefit from treatment”.’ I genuinely have no idea what that means. I find that I am struggling more and more to understand the gobbledygook with which we are daily afflicted from government and public bodies who attempt to make utter nonsense sound meaningful. Do we not employ doctors who, through their training and expertise, decide on appropriate treatments from which we will most benefit?  How the patient is supposed to demonstrate some sort of prior ability to benefit from treatment I simply do not know. Perhaps this spokeswoman has spent too much time in the same building as Iain Duncan Smith, as the poor are being forced to jump through hoops to reflect that they might benefit from some relief from poverty. Until they are sanctioned for not proving themselves worthy enough, of course.

‘The (survey) findings prompted the health minister David Prior to warn that NHS bodies might be acting illegally by rationing. “Treatment decisions should only be made by doctors based on a patient’s individual clinical needs,” he said. “Local health bodies have a legal responsibility to provide services meeting the needs of their local population, and we expect NHS England to act if there is any evidence of inappropriate rationing of care.”‘

Did Prior really say that? Christopher Smallwood, chairman of St George’s University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, reported in the Guardian that ‘the NHS is headed for financial ruin’. If the NHS is headed for financial ruin there is only one reason, it is being starved to death by your government. ‘What,’ I hear someone say, ‘isn’t it the ageing population?’ To which I reply with vitriolic, seething, candour, ‘War!’

If rationing care is illegal, what does that make of rationing the money for care? Where does the buck stop? I know where it stopped when I was a Community and Youth Worker in charge of a centre but then I wasn’t ring fenced with privilege and protections that effectively put me above the law. If it is the considered opinion of David Prior, Baron Prior of Brampton, that NHS bodies might be acting illegally perhaps the noble Baron might like to consider the large buck headed his way and to duck appropriately. With luck it might hit Jeremy Hunt (Britain’s most celebrated typing error). I very much hope NHS England will act, not least to deal with the endemic ducking problem in government.

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