Stories from the Lowdown and editor’s choices from across the news media:

Warrington warning – NHS says no, then offers private care

Under the supremely inappropriate label of “My Choice,” Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust has decided to cash in on frustration at the growing list of treatments excluded from the NHS by cost-cutting CCGs in Merseyside and Warrington, and launch its own private NHS patient service.



Bradford – staff vote for strike to stay in NHS

Over 200 UNISON members at a Bradford Teaching Hospitals Foundation Trust – 97% of those voting – have voted to take strike action next month amid fears over “backdoor privatisation” of some of its services.



France – emergency staff fight for more beds, staff and better salaries

The French health care system is regularly touted by right wing commentators as superior in its performance to that in England – ignoring its considerably increased level of spending per head (€200 billion per year), superior availability of scanners and higher provision of beds.



Move to privatise cytology screening for London patients

The result of an open tender competition to provide Laboratory services to the NHS will see one  of the nine lots awarded this week  likely to go to a private company.



Privatisation: commercial secrecy is not in the public interest

RICHARD BOURNE argues that public bodies are not traders, and that most of their so-called business secrets should not be kept secret at all.



NW London plan for mega CCG – ignoring the needs of 2.2 million people

Just weeks after Health Secretary Matt Hancock and NHS England finally scrapped their long-running efforts to reconfigure hospital services and close Ealing and Charing Cross Hospitals, North West London health chiefs might sensibly have stayed quiet for a while, or even better offered an apology to local people for the money and effort wasted since 2012.



Solutions to NHS staffing crisis delayed for Tory leadership campaign

The NHS has been waiting for a workforce plan to layout the solution to its serious crisis in staffing. Interim plans have finally been published, but news that the government spending review is “unlikely” to take place this year will put a brake on further progress.



Early mental health interventions for young people don’t go far enough

The Government’s plans to train teachers to spot the signs of mental illness in their pupils are “little more than a sticking plaster”, says the National Educational Union.



Record numbers of NHS cancer patients face ‘agonising wait’ to see a specialist 

In April this year alone, nearly 20,000 patients had to wait more than the target 14 days to have their first appointment with a cancer specialist. 

NHS England data reveals that trusts have failed to meet waiting time targets for 10 out of the previous 12 months.  

Full story in The Guardian, 13 June 2019.  

MP calls NHS summit on Portsmouth dentist closures 

Portsmouth South MP, Stephen Morgan, has called NHS bosses to Parliament following the closure of three NHS dental practices that leaves thousands without care. 

The closures could leave between 9,000 to 20,000 people without access to dental care. 

Full story on BBC News, 17 June 2019. 

Staff to strike over transfer to wholly-owned subsidiary
Porters, housekeepers, domestic assistants and maintenance staff at Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust will strike on 24-26 June. They are being transferred from 1 July to a wholly owned subsidiary, Summerhill Services Ltd, a move that allows the Trust to avoid paying tax, employing a VAT ‘dodge’.

Public urged to complain about 25% cut in health visiting workforce
Suffolk residents are being urged to write to their MP in a bid to stop a proposed 25 per cent cut to the county’s health visitor workforce. Suffolk has seven MPs including health and social care secretary Matt Hancock who represents West Suffolk.

‘Chaos’ as PCN deadline approaches
GPs complain they are unable to meet the primary care network (PCN) registration deadline. NHS England hasn’t issued the promised guidance (a template data sharing agreement that all GP practices are expected to review and sign by 30 June). GPs point out that their workload has increased as a consequence of the new PCN services and there’s a lack of up-front funding to pay for it.

Lives ‘destroyed by NHS eating disorder failures’ 

Two separate reports have warned of the impacts that NHS specialist care waiting times could have on the 1 million eating disorder sufferers in England.  

A report by the charity Beat, revealed that patients in some areas are waiting up to 5 months for specialist care. This leaves vulnerable patients relying on their GPs who lack the specific skills or training to help.  

Full story on BBC News, 18 June 2019. 

Children’s hospices ‘to shut if NHS does not increase funding’ 

Together for Short Lives, a charity that supports terminally ill children, has published a report reviewing funding for 27 out of the 34 children’s hospices in England.  

Spending by children’s hospices has increased 4.5% since 2016/17. Meanwhile, the percentage contributed by the state has fallen from 27% to 21% in five years. Hospices are having to dip into their reserve funding to meet the shortfall. 

Full story on BBC News, 20 June 2019. 

Bursaries for student nurses and midwives have been extended in Wales until 2020 

The Welsh Government has announced that student nurses and midwives will continue to receive bursaries until 2020. This relies on their commitment to two years’ work in Wales post-qualification.  

Student nurses in Scotland and Northern Ireland also still have access to bursaries, with Scotland looking at plans to increase these. England scrapped the bursaries for students beginning their course from 2017 onwards. 

Full story on Nursing Notes, 21 June 2019. 


Long term plan will fail without an extra £8 billion
Health Foundation report, endorsed by the NHS Confederation, says waiting times will continue to get worse and hospitals will be overstretched without a further £8000 million injection of cash.

Record number of cancer patients are waiting
In England almost 20,000 patients had to wait more than the 14-day maximum to have their first appointment with a cancer specialist, easily the largest number since records began. The target is that once referred, 93% of patients see a specialist within the 14 day period.

GPs forced into primary care networks?
London GPs think the area of that the network covers runs counter to‘…geography, council guidance on neighbourhoods, community organisations and [patients’] preferences ‘, purely to meet the bureaucratic requirements of the CCG.

Watch KONP doctor take “think tank” to task
Dr Sonia Adesara of KONP takes on the Institute of Economic Affairs, a right-wing lobbying organisation that purports to be a think-tank, over Trump and the threat to the NHS from US-UK trade deals.

GPs fill gaps left by public health cuts
Both the Health Foundation and The King’s Fund warn that the government ‘must make a clear and urgent commitment to restoring £1billion of real-terms per head cuts to the public health grant’. This, say GP leaders, is one of the causes of trainee doctors not choosing to be a GP, and more GPs working part-time, because public health funding cuts have driven up practice workload.

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