Reality – a word not used by Politicians in Health – is that Hearing aids and vasectomies are rationed as NHS pressures bite

Once “rationing” overtly has been accepted as reasonable in the different Regional Health Services, then we can start to debate exactly how services should and could be rationed. None of the current parties accepts the use of the word “rationing” and their lexicon uses “prioritization”, “restriction” and any other synonym..  The politic of speech hides the truth: in effect lying to all of us.

A first debate in West Wales BMA – on rationing – wins a majority in favour

It’s not about money – it’s about a proper debate on philosophy and overt rationing

A new philosophy, what I believe: allow Trust Board members to use the language of rationing in media press releases

Reality is a word rarely used in Health debate and discussion. The Economist comments on post election realities..

We are rationing the wrong way – and without a philosophical debate it will get worse

An election debate by pithed, fearful politicians. Impotence and denial ensure no significant change in philosophy.

Laura Donelly reports in The Telegraph reports 30th July 2015: Hearing aids and vasectomies rationed as NHS pressures bite – One in three GPs says NHS rationiing has increased in the last year, as investigation finds hearing aids, vasectomies and hip and knee operations are being restricted

The NHS is increasingly “rationing” hearing aids, hip and knee replacements and vasectomy operations to try and cut costs, an investigation has found.

More than one in three GPs say access to treatment has been restricted in the 12 months, with senior doctors warning of “unacceptable” decisions being taken.

Charities said many of the rationing measures are affecting the most vulnerable, with the decision to restrict hearing aids branded as “cruel”.

The health service is attempting to make £22bn efficiency savings by 2020, in order to close a looming deficit.

Areas with the worst financial problems have been ordered to draw up emergency plans to cut spending.

An investigation by Pulse magazine discloses widespread rationing measures being introduced in a bid to bring costs down.

A survey of 652 GPs found 36 per cent had experienced increased restrictions to services in the last year.

The rationing measures mean NHS North Staffordshire clinical commissioning group will no longer fund hearing aids for those with mild hearing loss.

Charity Action on Hearing Loss said it was “deeply opposed” to such restrictions, which would cut off a lifeline for some of the most vulnerable.

NHS North East Essex CCG is restricting vasectomies, female sterilisation procedure and spinal physiotherapy, as part of efforts to save £1m.

NHS Basildon and Brentwood CCG is considering withdrawing funding for patients with “mild or moderate” hearing loss, and has capped the number of vasectomy referrals it will pay for.

Mid Essex CCG has drawn up plans to save £1m by reducing access to procedures including hip and knee operations.A number of areas have tightened up eligibility for some of the most common operations, including hip and knee replacements.

NHS Great Yarmouth and Waveney CCG says obese patients must lose weight, and smokers give up, before hip and knee replacement procedures. It says such restrictions may be expanded to cover other operations.

Dr James Kingsland, president of the National Association of Primary Care, said such decisions could not be defended.

He said: “The idea of rationing necessary care in a service that is free at the point of use is just unacceptable. Any health commissioning body looking at rationing services need to question whether they are fit for purpose.”

Marcus Warnes, Interim Accountable Officer at North Staffordshire CCG, said: “Our decision to introduce an eligibility criteria for hearing aids for people with mild to moderate hearing loss was not financially driven but clinically-led and based on a significant volume of research and extensive engagement with local people, stakeholders and a variety of national bodies with specialist expertise.”

Dr Gary Sweeney, NHS North East Essex CCG chairman said: “We have no choice other than to stay within budget. If we do not implement these decisions we will have to select other services to restrict.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “Blanket restrictions on treatment are unacceptable and all decisions on treatment should be made by doctors based on a patient’s individual clinical needs.”

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About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

One thought on “Reality – a word not used by Politicians in Health – is that Hearing aids and vasectomies are rationed as NHS pressures bite

  1. Pingback: NHS to begin denying people hearing aids for first time – politicians will still deny it…. | NHS reality. An NHS soapbox. Speakers' corner for the NHS.

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