UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Tory press playing cheap politics with the NHS

The hypocritical hand wringing and crocodile tears are already surfacing in the right wing press even though Professor Bruce Keogh's report into the apparent high deaths at 14 NHS Trusts will not be made public until Tuesday 16th July. In a knee jerk reaction to Robert Francis' report into Mid-Staffordshire David Cameron appointed England's Medical Director to review the incidents of mortality in the Trusts. Almost gleefully the Telegraph states that the report will be a damning indictment of the NHS:

It will alarmingly claim that there were over 13,000 needless deaths at the Trusts under investigation. Even one needless death is a disgrace but neither the Telegraph, or Keogh will identify the real cause of the problems in health provision. There are millions of needless deaths around the world, deaths that could and should be avoided but in a world where global capital rules the health needs of the poor and needy are expendable.

Although no one would condone poor treatment and failures in health care need to be exposed and corrected, Cameron set up Keogh with the sole purpose of deflecting attention from the Francis recommendations. The way the Trusts were chosen was crude and did not take into account the complex nature in health provision in this country. For example East Lancashire NHS may have a higher than average death rate than other Trusts. But it is recognised that the Trust not only covers a large remote and rural population but many patients do not present themselves to their GP until their illness is at an advanced state. What this demonstrates is the need for more resources to be made available for public health initiatives to ensure that local communities can access good medical care early.

As with Francis the major problem facing these 14 Trusts, as with most NHS organisations is the huge financial burden of cost improvement programmes. These savage cuts coupled with crippling regulation from the financial watchdog Monitor have led to huge pressures on the system. It is no wonder that in some areas the dam is beginning to give way.

More than ever we need to fight to defend the NHS, but we must also fight to build a truly world class health care system, which is free at the point of use, resourced through fair taxation, delivered by a properly rewarded public service and with public health at its core. Only then will we tackle the health inequalities that that have blighted this country for years.