On April 1st, the NHS changed dramatically from the service we have known for more than 60 years. The Conservative-led Government has forced through an expensive and unnecessary top-down reorganisation of the NHS. Nobody voted for these changes, as neither the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats had put proposals for the changes into their manifestos at the election.
The changes have already caused much disruption and extra costs. Salford Primary Care Trust has been abolished and many experienced NHS staff have lost their jobs. Redundancy payments and other costs mean as much as £3 billion has been spent on the changes in total, instead of being spent on patient care.
Nationally, we now have 5,000 less nurses than we had in 2010. More than 800 nursing posts were lost in just one month recently. The Care Quality Commission has found that one in ten hospitals does not have the right level of clinical staff to ensure good and safe patient care. Given the recent report on the way that understaffing contributed to appallingly poor care standards at the Mid-Staffs hospital, this loss of nursing posts is worrying.
The most worrying of the changes is a set of regulations which will force competitive tendering for health services. This will mean extra work and cost for the new Commissioning Groups charged with buying health services for their local community. Private providers will be able to cherry-pick which health services they wish to compete for, leaving the more complex and risky operations to the NHS. This could undermine our local hospitals, which need to deliver a mix of simpler and more complex procedures to be viable financially.
I look forward to this unwanted set of changes to the NHS being repealed by a future Labour government. I hope this can happen in 2015, when we can rescue the NHS from these damaging changes which I believe will undermine the strengths of one of the best-loved and most admired health services in the world.