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Monday, 9 January 2017

Dorset's Hospitals: Have Your Say

Read more here

Deadline 27 February!

I visited one of the drop-in sessions and submitted my written comments, which were well-received and discussed openly and constructively. I was satisfied that my points were dealt with professionally, and that the consultation document's drafting ambiguities and contradictions, which I had noted with concern, were adequately clarified. But implementation and NHS staff recruitment and training will be the key to the success of any transformation that goes ahead. The consultancy document makes no mention of the implications of Brexit for the recruitment of doctors, locums, nurses and health auxiliaries from the EU and farther afield. Brexit negotiations could make a mockery of the 'preferred options for change'.

A meeting in Penzance, Cornwall, didn't go so well, according to this report

Related, Dorset Echo - 'Hidden crisis' of GP surgeries with some Dorset patients waiting WEEKS for appointments

CCG Clinical Services Review comes to Dorchester, Dorset Echo

Numbers down at consultation event, View from Dorchester

Dr Jon Orrell spoke in Dorchester to encourage residents to complete the Clinical Services Review by NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), Dorset Echo

Public meeting in Dorchester to discuss Clinical Services Review, Dorset Echo

Brief Notes on the Public Meeting on Dorset’s Healthcare Changes and the CCG Consultation Document, Dorchester Corn Exchange, 25 January 2017, organised by Dorchester Labour Party together with the West and South Dorset Green Party


Chris Gray, Unison Dorset Health
Cllr Dr. Jon Orrell, Weymouth & Portland Green Councillor, Green party
Cllr Paul Kimber, Portland Tophill; Leader of the Labour Group, Dorset County Council

Chair: Claudia Sorin, Dorchester Labour

Some points and anecdotal claims I noted:

“There is now a one-year waiting-time for a cataract operation, when it was 2-3 weeks. The waiting time for an ambulance is from two to three hours, when it was 8 minutes”.

These were some of the examples given by members of the panel to illustrate the scale of the crisis in the NHS, which is “on its knees”, because “it needs a real funding increase of 4% per annum. Instead, there will be major cuts across DorsetHealth, with the consequential erosion of services, the downgrading of some hospitals, and the ‘full horror’ of GP surgery cuts”.

“There are recruitment problems in the workforce: 75% of nurses are apparently over 50 years old – many will have retired in 5-10 years time”.

“Nationally, the NHS lacks 24,000 nurses and 4000-5000 doctors”.

The CCG consultation document “does not address the real problems, but offers unrealistic savings instead”.


I am attending as many meetings and drop-in sessions as I can, to hear a broad range of opinions and arguments, in order to be able to fill in the consultation questionnaire as responsibly and objectively as possible.
Maybe some more realistic savings are possible? It seems that the NHS has been overpaying for medicines:

"The NHS is overpaying for medicines by at least £380 million a year and perhaps by up to £1 billion because it sat back while drug companies raised prices, according to research. Cancer drug prices have risen by 1,000 per cent while others have gone up by 9,685 per cent in an abuse of a legal loophole revealed by The Times. About £60 million is wasted by overpaying for basic painkillers and vitamins that the NHS could buy more cheaply in supermarkets.The health service has been too lax in challenging price increases by companies that have dramatically raised the cost of generic drugs, researchers at the University of Liverpool concluded". The Times.

Instead of saving expenditure by challenging unjustifiable price-increases:

Listening to comments from callers on Nick Ferrari's LBC radio show, one might  be forgiven for thinking that the NHS should be renamed the International Health Service, on account of the extent of free services available to foreign (non-EU) NHS health tourists, who are never asked for their ID or credit cards. The Daily Mail is stoking public concern about this topic - "Health tourism is much more than anyone admits - and it costs us BILLIONS".

NHS failing to recover millions from overseas patients, ITV News

Foreign patients to pay up front for NHS treatment, ITV

BBC News At One, 6th February, items on Yeovil Hospital, and Health Tourism

The BBC's Hospital, Episode 4 (watch on iPlayer), also dealt with the issue: "The day-to-day realities facing the NHS. The hospital's overseas officer, Terry, tries to recoup money from patients on the ward who are not UK residents". The programme makes clear how difficult it can be to recoup money.

Full BBC description: Hospital-Episode 4

"A woman from Nigeria recovers in the hospital after going into premature labour with quadruplets, having fallen ill on a flight. Only three of her babies survived the dangerously premature births and they are now being cared for in Neonatal Intensive Care. She receives a visit from the hospital's overseas officer Terry, whose job it is to prepare her for a huge bill. Because she is not a British resident, she must pay for the care that she and her babies are receiving. The cost of such specialist care quickly tops £100,000 and looks likely to rise to half a million pounds during their stay. Terry explains that, despite her distressing predicament, it is a legal requirement for the hospital to collect the money the NHS is owed.

'We have to start raising invoices on a weekly basis. She has three babies in ICU. So that's £20,000 a week for each baby, plus her own charges as well... You have to distance yourself emotionally. Otherwise you wouldn't get the job done.'

The woman is just one of a number of overseas patients who are receiving lifesaving care and from whom the hospital must now try to recoup money. Although emergency treatment given in A&E is free, non-UK residents who are admitted to a ward have to be billed.

Terry also needs to charge Sonia, a 56-year-old woman from the Philippines who suffers heart problems while visiting her sister, who is a UK resident. Cardiothoracic surgeon Rex Stanbridge saves her life, but she suffers complications and needs a bed in Intensive Care - costing thousands of pounds per day.

In 2015/16, the Trust's overseas patient charges were £4 million, with Terry's team managing to collect £1.6 million. Despite carrying a credit card machine to take on-the-spot payments, Terry finds it hard to get many patients to pay up".

Reality Check: How much could NHS recover from foreign patients?, BBC

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