Shock as Harlow health services to be “taken over” by the government

Health / Fri 5th Jun 2015 at 11:11am

HEALTH organisations in Harlow have reacted to the news that government regulators are set to take over the running of NHS services in Essex.

The unprecedented move will see three key national NHS bodies intervene to dictate how local services tackle longstanding problems such as understaffing, financial trouble and poor care.

Essex is just one of three areas in the country that has been selected.

The first response comes form the West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

A spokesperson said: “NHS West Essex Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) welcomes the announcement that Essex will be part of the NHS Success Regime – to help create the conditions for success in local health and care economies.

In west Essex, health and care leaders are currently addressing unique local challenges by working together to develop a whole system approach to delivering joined-up services under the Integrated Care programme (ICP).

“Hospitals, GPs, councils, commissioners and community care services are working closely together to offer quality and sustainable services to local people – soon with additional support of NHS England, Monitor and the Trust Development Authority (TDA).

“Clare Morris, Chief Officer at NHS West Essex CCG said, “This is good news for health and care in Essex. What it offers is a process for making a success of the work that is already happening across the county.

“In west Essex we have taken great strides towards building a new model of care and are setting the foundations for radical transformation in our area. The Success Regime will allow us to enhance our plans and will provide much needed support and resource. We will grab the opportunity it presents.

“Various actions over the last few years have tackled some of the short-term issues. This new regime proposed will help us to get a firm grip on the long-term prospects.”

West Essex CCG plans will also see care being available closer to home and, from July, west Essex will be one of the first areas to operate a seven-day working schedule for GP services in the area.

WECCG also looks forward to engaging further with the public and continuing to focus on delivering high quality services that are sustainable in the long-term.

Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, outlined the move on Wednesday in a speech to 3,000 local NHS leaders gathered in Liverpool for the NHS Confederation’s annual conference.

The new scheme is different to the “special measures” regime that Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, introduced for individual failing hospitals after Robert Francis QC’s landmark report in 2013 into the Mid Staffs scandal.

What the NHS is calling “whole-systems intervention” is needed because often problems besetting one hospital are part of wider problems in their locality, Stevens said. The various acute hospitals in Essex are understood to be about £150m in deficit, for example.

Previous efforts to turn around individual hospital trusts – such as repeated financial bailouts, regular replacement of chief executives and inspections – have not done the job, he said.

“We are going to both nationally and locally bring to bear a full range of flexibilities and say what is our holistic diagnosis as to what needs to change in this individual health economy, not just go and inspect individual institutions or set individual cash limits,” Stevens said.

NHS England said: “The aim is to improve care and sustainability of services for patients. The three areas are facing some of the most significant challenges in England. They will begin work to make improvements this summer and further areas may enter at a later point.”

The new approach will see NHS England working in partnership with Monitor and the NHS Trust Development Authority, which both regulate England’s 160 acute hospital trusts. They will draw up radical plans to overhaul how all the different types of local NHS organisations across large areas are run and deliver care.

Working with local NHS care providers, they will push through determined action to ensure hospitals, GP surgeries and other NHS service providers work together much more closely to tackle deep-seated problems which previous initiatives have failed to banish.

Previously failing hospital trusts have been placed in special measures – 23 in all so far – but this is the first time that this type of takeover across multiple trusts spanning whole regions has been enacted. It will reignite the debate about the current state of the NHS and its funding.

The move is part of the NHS Five Year Forward View, the blueprint for the service’s future, which Stevens and fellow bosses of other key NHS bodies published last year.

An NHS background briefing on the move published on Wednesday explains: “The problems in these health and care economies are often deep-rooted, longstanding and spread across the whole system as opposed to individual organisations. Local and national organisations may have worked hard for some time to improve services for patients and the public, but not made the required progress.

“Transformation is therefore now required, and this will only be achieved if national and local leaders take a different approach to those taken previously, which has not yet delivered the expected improvements for patients and the public.”

The British Medical Association said that more areas would start to fall under the “success regime” if ministers continued to push the NHS to deliver even greater efficiencies.

Hunt warned the NHS in an article in the Daily Telegraph this week that, with ministers having pledged to give it the £8bn extra funding by 2020 that Stevens has requested, the health service needed to to press on with making £22bn of “substantial and significant efficiency savings” in return.

Dr Mark Porter, chair of council at the doctors’ union, the British Medical Association, said: “This unprecedented move underscores the abject failure of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 to address the underlying pressures on NHS services.

“The expensive and unnecessary reorganisation diverted attention away from the real problems facing the NHS such as the service coordination and chronic funding pressures.

“The need for this sort of dramatic intervention is likely to increase if the government continues to pursue its drive for yet more ‘efficiencies’, instead of properly addressing inadequate NHS funding in the face of rising demand for health and care services.”

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1 Comment for Shock as Harlow health services to be “taken over” by the government:

2015-06-05 14:27:16

The sad truth is a large number of these debts are due to the ridiculously high repayments on Labour's PFI agreements. Broomfield in Chelmsford for example are having to pay £16M a year for a total of 32 years. That's £80M for the five year period of this parliament, without treating a single patient, or paying a single member of staff! It really is beyond belief that they have the cheek to profess to be the party of the NHS. They've basically signed large parts of our Health Service up to Wonga!

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