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Conservative fiddle while the NHS burns


Just over a month ago the Macclesfield Express reported how the national NHS underfunding crisis was impacting locally with the East Cheshire NHS Trust (ECNT) that runs our hospital £24 million in debt and the East Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group which funds local health services £9 million in debt.

While admitting that local hospital services were unsustainable in their present form the ECNT Chief Executive John Wilbraham at that time ruled out job cuts, the closure of key services like A&E, or mergers with other hospital trusts. Over the last few days it has become increasingly clear that Jeremy Hunt has other plans and that his department is preparing a formal list of hospital department closures. Leaks suggest that for Cheshire and Merseyside this will involve balancing the books by requiring hospitals to be "reconfigured" and "consolidated" on fewer sites.

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We have also discovered that civil servants in his own department believe the Junior Doctors were right Jeremy Hunt was wrong;, you can’t run a “7 day NHS” when you don’t have enough doctors and nurses to maintain existing service levels. We in Macclesfield look like we are about to pay a heavy price for a vote-catching slogan.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned. Jeremy Hunt distracted himself from tackling the biggest ever NHS crisis while failing dismally make scapegoats of our Junior Doctors. He has turned a deaf ear to the repeated calls from Norman Lamb, Liberal Democrat Health Spokesman, for an all-party “New Beveridge” Commission that would attempt to avoid the NHS being used as a political football and make better use of the expertise of health professionals.

A key goal of this New Beveridge review would be to devise the best management structure and funding model for ending the current illogical situation where, across almost all of the country, Health and Social Care are financed and managed as two separate services.

There is plenty of evidence to suggest that integrating the two can achieve the Holy Grail of saving money while improving services, for example by eliminating the colossal waste of resources incurred when infirm people whose hospital treatment is complete remain on wards because they have nowhere else to go. “Rationalisation” need not always be another word for cuts. It could actually mean doing something rational for a change.


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