Health chiefs ‘trying to spin’ NHS out of crisis

Andrew Elson in The times 7th December 2015 reports: Health chiefs ‘trying to spin’ NHS out of crisis NHSreality agrees.

Health bosses have been accused of trying to spin the NHS out of crisis this winter by banning hospitals from declaring “major incidents” and delaying the publication of key waiting-time figures.

Last week, as MPs debated whether to authorise bombing raids in Syria, health officials announced that the NHS would reduce the publication of weekly performance indicators which give a snapshot of the state of the health service.

The weekly updates will no longer include figures on A&E waiting times, ambulance delays outside hospitals, last-minute cancellation of operations, and the number of patients left on trolleys for longer than four hours. Instead officials will publish the numbers monthly, subject to a six-week delay.

Health bosses have also ordered NHS trusts not to use the term “major incident” if they become unable to cope with patient numbers this winter. The alert signals that pressure on a hospital is so great that it has had to call in extra staff or instruct patients to avoid A&E. Last January, at least 14 trusts in England declared major incidents.

NHS England has told trusts only to use the words “major incident” if a “formal multi-agency response” involving other organisations is required, such as a fire, flood or outbreak of infectious disease. Otherwise they should use the phrase “internal significant incident”.

Under the new guidance, none of the major incidents declared last winter, signalling the worst winter crisis in the NHS for 15 years, might have come to public attention.

“This is a clear attempt by the NHS to spin itself out of crisis,” Roger Goss of Patient Concern, told The Sunday Telegraph. “So much for all the talk of openness and transparency.”

Last winter Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, suffered a series of damaging headlines about A&E waiting times and ambulance queues.

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

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.

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