Changes are currently being forced through at speed throughout the NHS in England which emphasise care closer to home, people being healthy and staying out of A&E.
The National Health Action Party (NHA) say the only safe way to implement such changes is to have proper consultation, strict guidelines and the right level of staff available to make decisions.
Yesterday, 14th July, an inquest found that the deaths of three people in the East of England were caused by a trial based on reducing admissions to A&E. In one of the cases the decision not to take the patient to hospital was made after the paramedic spoke to a GP based in the ambulance headquarters – despite it clearly breaching NHS guidelines.
This was because a year-long pilot scheme was in place, as part of Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View, the main driver of the government’s reshaping of the NHS.
The distressing story of deaths that have occurred in the East Of England, during a one year trial trying to reduce A&E admissions, shows above all what happens when the proper conditions are not observed and the drivers for such changes are above all financial and ideological rather than clinical.
Dr Paul Hobday of the NHA said: “As a doctor who has been committed to the NHS all my life I am saddened at every story of avoidable death.
“I am also angry because I know that in the current political climate there is unlikely to be any change in the reshaping of the service and budget reductions which make such tragedies inevitable.
“Emergency care is one of the NHS’ most costly areas. The National Health Action Party has repeatedly emphasised the widespread risk to patient care when finances take precedence over clinical decisions.
“We do not believe the NHS should be a bottomless pit for spending, but we know that it is possible to run an efficient and effective, quality service at comparatively low cost if the service is allowed to work properly.
“We are facing the largest closure programme to A&E services ever as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plans. Attempts to prevent people needing these services are taking place after the decision to make the closures. It is only common sense that it should have been the other way round. The fact that it is not shows that the driving forces are about money, not about people’s health.
“Sadly Theresa May has chosen to keep Jeremy Hunt in post as Secretary of State for Health. I regret that this may be an indicator that we will see no change in the destruction of the NHS.”