A grassroots NHS campaign. Not affiliated to any of the political parties.
Quite rightly, there was a recent national outcry regarding the appearance of an NHS Foundation Trust - Warrington & Halton Hospitals - advertising very openly about the 'OPTION to Self-Fund some procedures'.
Campaigners were right to be outraged. But should we be surprised at seeing this very visible what we are calling the "Ever Shrinking NHS"?
We've known this has been coming for a long time. Especially following the 2018 NHS England NATIONAL CONSULTATION (that the majority of the public never heard of) to begin restricting procedures deemed to be of 'low clinical value'.
NHS England, by making a list of treatments it thinks people should pay for and dictating to Clinical Commissioning Groups to "manage demand" - is controlling how much treatment is on offer to patients in any one financial year. This is not privatisation but it will lead to yet more shrinkage of the NHS Menu.
According to their website MYCHOICE (which has been in existence since 2013) has been PAUSED.
Whilst this is to be welcomed let's be clear that the hospital is only doing what is being demanded by NHS ENGLAND.
Foundation Trust hospitals are being 'encouraged' to create income from these treatments - the restriction of routine NHS Funded treatments means they can and will legally charge for them. Because NHS England have decided that (it's THEIR CHOICE) they will not automatically fund these procedures on the expertise of a GP or consultant.
In a deeply cynical choice of words the Warrington & Halton NHS FT Chief Exec. has the nerve to use the word "OPTION". The only option it seems a patient has in making a choice is either self-fund or go without.
Let's unpack some of the MYCHOICE website statment from the Warrington and Halton CEO - Mel Pickup (real name).
For the avoidance of doubt, I would wish to be very clear that Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust does not charge NHS patients for NHS treatments and we have no intention of doing otherwise.
Technically she's right. This new list of 17 "low clinical value" treatments (more to come) are no longer identified as being automatic NHS Treatments.
It is not the role of hospitals to determine which treatments are funded by the NHS and which are not; this is the role of NHS commissioners.
She's putting the blame for the scheme on the Clinical Commissioning Group who are just following orders from
NHS England's orders to restrict care.
If a patient does not meet the criteria laid out by commissioners, patients have two choices: they can either seek the procedure through the private sector or not have the procedure at all.
Blunt and to the point - what we have been saying for a long time but then she goes on...
What we are trying to do, like many others, is to improve the offer for patients with a third choice if they do not meet the criteria required by commissioners; that is to self-fund their procedure within their local NHS hospital at a cost that is potentially more affordable than the private sector, at a price based on the NHS national tariff.
THE BIG QUESTION
If the treatments in question have been deemed to be of LOW CLINICAL VALUE - based on evidence apparently that tells us the treatments are poor in effectiveness WHY are they being offered for Self-Pay?
Mel Pickup the CEO says this: “Procedures of low clinical priority do not mean low value to our patients, and we are pleased to be able to make a large number available at a really affordable price at their local hospitals and by our most trusted NHS staff. ‘My Choice’ is by the NHS, for the NHS”
This is a clear example but this will not be an isolated incident. This is where we can work together to fight these moves.
We are asking campaigners now to write to their local hospital CEOs asking about their plans to offer similar schemes to Warrington. No one can believe this Foundation Trust in the North West is alone in diong this.
Follow this link to our sister site for more information.
CLICK THE LOGO
SHRINKING THE NHS
For a full in depth analysis
of this issue visit this article
by Jenny Shepherd
- 999 Call for the NHS