Saturday 25th July – NHS meeting Dewsbury (organised by KONP and 38 degrees Dewsbury)

Dr Anna Athow (retired General Surgeon & BMA member) gave a presentation on the Five Year Forward Plan

I cancelled a group meeting for this and was rather sad that I ended up being the only person from our area to go and wondered if I had done the right thing-  but yes I did. 

Anna Athow is a very interesting character being a retired consultant surgeon @ N Middlesex Hospital she is both a member of the BMA consultants’ committee and is an active member of the workers revolution party. She has fought tirelessly against the changes and really feels that there is a 2 years time span to prevent the total destruction of the NHS which she believes can only happen by the will of the workforce. Leaving that argument to one side her case is chilling and she is very angry that the BMA are not facing up to what is happening. At their 4 day conference she only managed to force a short debate on the 5 year plan. The majority she said hadn’t either read it or had just accepted it at face value.The need for us to be aware and take this onto the streets and to our village halls etc is pressing.

The meeting was also addressed by Deborah Harrington NHA Party and and Jenny Shepherd who has been leading the Save the Calderdale Hospitals campaign and who was a Green candidate in the election. She produces Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker

Most of what Anna Athow said is covered here…

Also from Anna …Devolving Manchester is wrecking NHS  

 ‘THESE plans for the devolution of the health budget to a Greater Manchester regional government truly lob a wrecking ball at the National Health Service,’ said British Medical Association (BMA) member Anna Athow yesterday.

She was responding to the announcement that Manchester is to get full control of its health spending from April 2016.

Tory Chancellor Osborne said that the £6bn health and social care budget would be taken over by the region’s councils and health groups, describing it as a ‘really exciting development’.

Athow warned: ‘The plan is that Greater Manchester must pool its health budget with its much tinier social care budget, and take responsibility for where the money goes. 

‘In charge of the budget is to be a newly elected mayor advised by the heads of 10 Borough councils and a new Health and Wellbeing board.

‘Greater Manchester is in the midst of a huge and highly controversial “reconfiguration”, in which a further four to five hospitals are to lose their A&E departments or other acute services.

‘The new regional local government will have this mess dumped in their laps, at the same time as funding for the NHS will continue to be reduced.

‘Moreover, the health budget will be used to plug the huge gaps in social services whose budget has been cut by 25% since the election.’

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, asked: ‘Who is responsible if these changes go wrong?’

He continued: ‘Doctors believe the secretary of state for health should have the duty to provide a universal and comprehensive health service and must take responsibility for guaranteeing national standards in the quality of care across the country.’

and last year – but now it’s the hospital doctors too – GPs angry at 24-hour 7-day working 

Anna Athow, BMA member, told News Line: ‘GPs are absolutely right to oppose federation and networks. These are the slippery slope to large out-of-hospital providers which will be sold off to private companies. The demand for 24/7 working is just what these private companies need to maximise profits and that is why these Tories are trying to push this through. The BMA should speak out against the government’s policies and organise the union to defend every GP surgery. That is why the London region BMA called on the BMA to organise industrial action to keep our GP surgeries open.’

(Please note Anna’s interpretation of the Govt’s reasons to push for a 7 day week. I think she is almost certainly right after reading this article which shows it is not a problem.)

While the leadership of the conference ‘welcomed the details’ of Hunt’s proposals, GPs were furious at the sheer cheek of the Tories demanding 24-hour seven-day-a-week access while cutting funding to the bone, threatening the closure of 98 GP surgeries.

Commenting on the ‘GPonline website’, GP after GP immediately slammed Hunt’s proposals.

Bristol GP partner and educator Dr Nicolas Snelling said: ‘Fundamentally there is not enough money and we are haemorrhaging GPs. Unless the job becomes more attractive then we are not going to attract medical students into general practice.’ 

Dr Snelling said one of his partners had just resigned in his early fifties because he had ‘had enough’ of the daily pressures of the job. Another local practice had closed after the loss of two partners. 

Gateshead GP Dr Neetika Dang said Hunt needed to provide more evidence of his ability to recruit an extra 5,000 GPs. ‘How is he going to do it?’ She said: ‘Where are these recruits coming from, who are they that want to do the job? 

‘I was a trainer until last year but stopped because I felt burnt out and now I cannot see myself going back to it because I could not genuinely pass on a passion for the role to my trainee.’ 

Medical student Sangeeta Patel said: ‘I did not realise that there is such a lack of support for GPs. Only receiving 8% of the NHS budget is crazy – and it’s only going to get worse by the time that we get there.’ 

An anonymous GP wrote on the Pulse website: ‘Federation is just a Trojan horse to sell us out en masse to greedy private contractors. They can only make a profit by acquiring the good will of a whole city’s patients at bargain basement prices. It’s somewhat sinister that the RCGP seem to be supporting this process.’ 

Another wrote: ‘How on earth can RCGP back Hunt’s policies?? Who do they represent? Certainly not the majority of grassroots GPs who barely have a personal life currently.’ 

Earlier that morning, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker demanded 8,000 more GPs are recruited by 2020 as 542 GP surgeries are facing closure.

Dr Baker compared general practice to the ‘walls of a dam’ preventing the rest of the NHS being flooded, she warned that the walls of the dam are now at bursting point. 

She said: ‘The wall of the dam – the service of general practice – is under huge pressure and unless urgent action is taken to repair and restore the dam, it could burst with terrible consequences for our patients in general practice and indeed for the whole of the NHS.’

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