Why did we ever mess with the basic structure of our NHS?
It was set up in 1948 to deliver the most equitable and efficient healthcare system possible.
At every policy change since then we have reduced its efficiency and often the fairness.
Since 2012 we have seen many dramatic changes to the basic structure of our NHS often veiled in phrases such as ‘efficiency savings’.
So how ironic that changes made for the sake of efficiency savings have given us a healthcare system which is no longer the most efficient use of public funds.
Last year we fought and lost a battle to keep Eastbourne’s walk-in centre.
We presented evidence of enormous public support for the centre and logical reasons for it staying open.
But perhaps we should have been looking harder for the real reasons they wanted it closed.
Was closing the walk-in centre going to be a better use of public funds or provide us with a more equitable primary healthcare system? We think not.
Going forward into 2021 we need to embrace the next challenge which is to stop some of our hospital services being taken over by a new trust which will be formed by the merger of two others.
Instead of arguing why this shouldn’t happen we will be asking why it should.
Will this be better for patients, better for staff or be a more efficient use of public funds?
These questions are really the bottom line when we look at discussions of NHS policy which can appear somewhat esoteric.
Behind all the cloak and daggers there is really just a lot of empty words designed to conceal what is happening and why it is happening.
Grandiose announcements about the building of 40 new hospitals may have got many excited but when you see that just £3.7bn was put behind the claim it falls apart (each new hospital would cost at least £1 bn to build).
The opening of the Nightingale hospitals was presented as an impressively potent response to the start of this pandemic.
Now as our hospitals and staff are at breaking point under the strain of managing Covid-19 the Nightingales have all closed.
Many of the Nightingales had never treated a single patient because there was just not enough staff available. (Sadly, if you simply clap for nurses instead of offering decent pay many will leave the profession.)
Every policy has to be greeted as potentially a PR exercise or an underhand method of slipping cash to private contractors.
Since 2012 our NHS has started to copy the structures that exist in America.
Primary care hubs like the new Victoria Medical Centre and Integrated Care Systems that are being developed in this area are all US ideas.
The US healthcare system is the most expensive and inefficient healthcare system in the developed world. Do you really want that here?
We need to say no, and we need to demand efficiency, and fairness for our NHS.
And we need to say it very loudly.
Will you join East Sussex Save the NHS and help us?
By Lucette Davies (East Sussex Save the NHS Eastbourne branch)
More Information: https://esussexsavethenhs.wordpress.com