Lansley’s unhealthy double whammy: What you won’t know or find out about the NHS

Andrew Lansley's unhealthy changes. Pic courtesy:www.bexleymonitoringgroup.co.uk

Update:Department of Health has replied to this blog defending their position on Freedom of Information and cutting statistics – see comments.

While battle rages over the government’s  controversial reforms of the NHS, the Department of Health has sneaked out two toxic  changes that could  seriously damage your health by promoting ignorance and restricting your rights as a citizen.

The two changes appear to be unconnected  but are extremely helpful to new private providers of  NHS medical services. One will limit information the private firms  have to provide under the Freedom of Information Act to patients and relatives, the other will help them by abolishing the collection of health statistics on the services they provide and  the quality of  staff they employ.

The first has been revealed by the authoritative Campaign for Freedom of Information who are rightly demanding that Andrew Lansley, the health secretary, amends the law so patients can be protected. See their letter at   http://bit.ly/q35AsQ .                   .

This is incredibly serious as this example  by their director Maurice Frankel  shows here.

“Suppose there is concern about the use of potentially contaminated medical supplies by hospitals. For an NHS hospital, the FOI Act could be used to obtain details of stocks of the product, the number of doses administered, the numbers of affected patients, the quality control measures in place, correspondence with suppliers, minutes of meetings at which the problem was discussed and information showing what measures were considered, what action was taken, how promptly and with what results.
This level of information would clearly not be available in relation to independent providers treating NHS patients. This would represent a major loss of existing information rights.”

The second comes from a very convoluted consultation exercise launched the day after the August bank holiday and trumpeted by Anne Milton, the public health minister, as a drive against ” red tape”.

This proposes to slash the collection of statistics by the Department of Health by 25 per cent in a rather uneven and unclear way. But it is clear that the aim is to ” minimise the burden” on the NHS and in particular the new private providers.

Half the statistics collected on the NHS workforce – which are used to improve staff training and forecast the need for skilled staff – are to be dropped. The consultation document says: “This will be of significance for non-NHS providers of NHS services as it will determine the minimum workforce information they would be required to provide.”

And also being reduced are the statistics on the very sensitive political area of waiting times, targets for treatments and capacity of hospitals. The paper says: “the content and frequency.. should remain under review so that the right information is provided by the NHS at a sensible frequency and in so doing the burden to the NHS is minimised.”

Collection of  statistics giving the national picture on mental health are being abolished and the collection of statistics on patient safety look like being hived off to a private firm.

The one area that is being improved is cancer statistic collection which seems to be tied to a pledge by David Cameron.

What is particularly disturbing is that despite the document running to 55 pages at no point is a definitive list published of what is being scrapped. See document if you can bear to here:http://bit.ly/npcHmC .

Frankly Andrew Lansley should not be allowed to get away with either of these moves. The Department needs to change its position on the former and come clean on the latter. I suggest that you make your views known to Mr Lansley at his private office at the Department of Health the email address is  mb-sofs@dh.gsi.gov.uk. If  Zetter’s Parliamentary Companion is right his direct e-mail at andrew.lansley@dh.gsi.gov.uk.

9 thoughts on “Lansley’s unhealthy double whammy: What you won’t know or find out about the NHS

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  2. Pingback: The Department of Health has sneaked out two toxic changes that could seriously damage your health by promoting ignorance and restricting your rights as a citizen. | Black Triangle Campaign

  3. Pingback: The Department of Health has sneaked out two toxic changes that could seriously damage your health by promoting ignorance and restricting your rights as a citizen. | Black Triangle Campaign

  4. We welcome comments around our plans to modernise our health service. The listening exercise earlier this year gave us an opportunity to respond positively to the concerns that people had about how we implement modernisation principles in the NHS. We will carry on listening and reflecting on what people tell us as we work together for the good of the NHS.

    The Health and Social Care Bill amends the Freedom of Information Act to ensure it applies to the NHS Commissioning Board and Clinical Commissioning Groups. This ensures that, as now, all NHS organisations will be subject to its provisions. For the first time, the Bill will expose private sector providers of NHS-funded services to the scrutiny of local councils, making sure that wherever the NHS pound goes, public scrutiny will follow.

    Our consultation on data returns is asking for people’s comments around ending data collections that are not adding value to the NHS and do not support key government priorities such as improving patient outcomes, patient choice and assisting clinical decisions. The proposals from our fundamental review of data returns, if accepted, would reduce the burden on NHS organisations and their staff by around £10million.

    We are currently consulting patient groups, research organisations, academic institutions, NHS trusts and the public for their views on these proposals.

    Full information about the review, details of the data returns, the recommendations and the impact on these upon national and official statistics is available in the suite of consultation documents.
    http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_129590

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