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NHS privatisation: Why the fuss?

surgeons operating - NHS privatisation

The words privatisation and NHS together are enough to start a fight in an empty room. But what exactly do we mean by it? And why does the issue make many so angry?

London's Cromwell Hospital, run by Bupa, does a good trade in NHS patients at its gamma knife radiosurgery centre. About a third of the patients with brain tumours seen there are sent by the NHS, costing the health service nearly £7,300 a go.

But even the most ardent critics of privatisation in England (it tends to be a debate which is focused there) accept this.

healthcare teamA row has broken out about the system for giving NHS hospitals in England their income.

Hospital chiefs have rejected plans for next year's payment system, warning that safe care could not be guaranteed under what was being proposed. Much of a hospital's funding comes from a set of tariffs that rewards them per patient treated. NHS bosses had proposed a cut of just under 4% - once inflation is taken into account - as part of a savings drive. The dispute does not affect services, but is a sign of the mounting pressure on the hospital sector.


Waiting-time targets are already being missed for A&E, cancer and routine operations and at the halfway point of the 2014-15 tax year, the NHS was £630m overspent.

British medics are being thanked for their work to defeat the disease in Sierra Leone.


ebola protectionThe government extends a special thanks to the doctors, nurses and health specialists from across the UK who spent Christmas Day in Sierra Leone helping to treat Ebola patients. More than 70 NHS volunteers have travelled directly to the West African country to work in British-built treatment centres, while many more are working with local hospitals and community centres on the ground, supported by UK aid.

Their efforts are part of the £230 million UK package to contain, control and finally defeat the disease in Sierra Leone. Nurse Donna Wood joined the first wave of NHS volunteers to work directly in the British-built treatment centres. Since arriving in Freetown on 7 December, Wood has undergone training in the hot, oppressive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) suits that form the only barrier between the health workers and the disease.

Jeremy Hunt said "as part of our determination to make the NHS the safest and most transparent healthcare system in the world, I want to tell you about two new important regulations that came into force yesterday". 


nurseThe first is the Statutory Duty of Candour, which places a legal duty on hospital, community and mental health trusts to inform patients of mistakes which have led to significant harm or death. This is a key response to Francis, and a significant step towards a more transparent and open NHS. At the same time, the General Medical Council and Nursing and Midwifery Council are consulting on a new Professional Duty of Candour which would mean that there would be an obligation on doctors, nurses and other health professionals to inform patients when something goes wrong. This is all designed to bring concerns into the open much more quickly, so that we develop a learning and improvement culture. I hope it will mean the NHS becomes the first healthcare system in the world that starts to get close to eliminating avoidable harm, including the 1,000 avoidable deaths we have every month across the system.


Further 5,000 are left seriously injured by devices including pacemakers and MRI scanners

faulty equipmentMore than 300 patients a year are dying due to faulty NHS equipment, according to a damning new report. Nearly 5,000 people were left seriously injured last year after using faulty equipment including pacemakers, MRI and CT scanners, according to a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. In the highest annual total of deaths since records began, 309 patients died last year in 'adverse incidents' linked to medical devices.


In total, there were 13,642 incidents relating to faulty equipment reported to health officials last year. Medics have also been forced to delay life-saving operations because their machines and tools don't work. There are concerns a lack of engineers to maintain equipment might be exacerbating the problem. Patients also suffered delays and injuries after issues with incubators, wheelchairs, artificial limbs, syringes and specialist beds.

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