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Ministers break promise to build 50 community hospitals

”The Times” said:
February 07, 2007
Promise of 50 community hospitals is dropped amid funding crisis
David Rose
A pledge by ministers to build 50 community hospitals to spearhead the treatment of patients closer to home has been quietly shelved, The Times has learnt.
The plans for a new generation of small hospitals providing inpatient beds for the elderly and people with chronic conditions appears to have been dramatically watered down in the wake of ongoing concerns about funding in the NHS.
Up to 150 existing community hospitals are facing closure or loss of beds amid a swath of unpopular cuts to local health services in England.
Patricia Hewitt, the Health Secretary, last year promised £750 million to build and regenerate community hospitals across the country. But ministers were accused yesterday of misleading patients by reneging on previous claims that the money would go specifically towards local hospital wards rather than day clinics.
Out of 50 new community hospitals pledged by ministers since the election, only one named hospital has so far been awarded funding, along with three other smaller clinics, MPs and campaigners say.
But Andy Burnham, the Health Minister, has denied that there was a target to build a set number of community hospitals.
Answering a parliamentary question tabled by Tony Baldry, the Conservative MP for Banbury, on how many of the 50 promised hospitals would be built, Mr Burnham said that there was “no target for the number of community hospitals we intend to fund”.
“The intention is to utilise the £750 million capital investment fund announced last July to fund the development and refurbishment of as many community hospitals and facilities as possible,” he said.
Ministers had refused six out of ten bids from local NHS Trusts hoping to build or renovate existing facilities, he added. The remaining schemes had been allocated funding of £44.5 million.
The Conservative Party accused Mr Burnham of evading a manifesto commitment yesterday, with less than 6 per cent of the promised £750 million having been allocated.
Mr Baldry said: “It appears that amongst the multitude of Government targets, the one health target they have abandoned is community hospitals.”
Andrew Lansley, the Shadow Health Minister, said: “Labour promised 50 new community hospitals at the last election. Since then they have closed at least five and funded one.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said that the figure of 50 new hospitals had been “a crude estimate” that should have referred to the number of schemes that local NHS trusts could bid to receive funding for.
Such bids would not necessarily lead to hospitals — as opposed to other services — being given funding, she said.
Bump..............because I trivialised this important thread. I wonder if the One that has got funding is in a marginal Liabor seat????
Let me ask it in a slightly different way.

There are plenty of Arrsers here, either working in the NHS or alongside it.

What would You do, to ensure the NHS was adequately funded?

Have you identified particular areas of waste, inefficiency or sheer greed by suppliers?
PartTimePongo said:
I'd like to start with one question.

Why is there a funding crisis in the NHS?
There's more than one answer, of course, but part of it is (IMO) that the NHS is being run by managers who often lack any practical understanding of how medicine works, what needs to be prioritised etc. Then there are the ridiculous "targets" which - because of this government's obsession with meausuring the unmeasurable, so that it can be spun - mean that clinicians have to focus on meeting often meaningless goals rather than concentrating time and resources on patient care.
The NHS is apparently the 3rd biggest employer in the WORLD [
after the Chinese Army and the Indian Railways]. Wether true or not, the fact is that the wages bill is astronomical and there is too many Admin staff and perversely not enough Practitioners [Docs/Nurses]
PartTimePongo said:
What would You do, to ensure the NHS was adequately funded?

Have you identified particular areas of waste, inefficiency or sheer greed by suppliers?
There needs to be a fundamental rethink about what the NHS is here to do: is it about giving everybody every kind of possible treatment (as the recent Herceptin challenges seem to indicate)? Is it about ensuring a minimum acceptable standard of living for everyone? Or something else?

If the former, there needs to be a massive increase in funding - otherwise drugs and treatment which receive a lot of media attention are going to be prioritised over those that are less newsworthy (but still important). We're already starting to see this with Herceptin.

If it's about ensuring an acceptable standard of living (with not all available treatments being provided) then we have to face up to the fact that, with a finite amount of resources, we can't give everyone everything.

The NHS still seems to have lost its way philosophically - it doesn't know what its purpose is in the 21st C and is careering back and forth between the two extremes mentioned above.
Lots of European countries are moving away from a centralised NHS type affair towards compulsory insurance based schemes.

This has happened in the Netherlands, and to put it in perspective, it was a bit of a scandal a while back when waiting lists crept up to nine weeks. Yes, weeks, not months. Typical wait to see a specialist for a first appointment: four to six weeks. Back in old Blighty it took longer than that even to be given the appointment! I can also normally see my GP the same day (last week I rang at 8 a.m. and was seen at 10:50 a.m.).
PartTimePongo said:
Let me ask it in a slightly different way.

There are plenty of Arrsers here, either working in the NHS or alongside it.

What would You do, to ensure the NHS was adequately funded?

Have you identified particular areas of waste, inefficiency or sheer greed by suppliers?
Radio 4 ran a week long series of short programs on that very question last week, and it was more or less a damming inditement of the NHS and it's inherent inefficiencies.

Also reminds me of an old episode of 'Yes Minister', where the govt have a new hospital built and after 15months, the minister discovers that the hospital has over 500 administrators, but not a single patient or member of the medical staff. When asked to explain why this had happened, Sir Humphrey came up with the old excuse that administrators are needed to 'administer', and that without them, the hospital could not serve the patients.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the minister was not impressed when the civil service failed to see the irony of keeping a hospital serviced with administrators, but could not afford to take in any patients because of the lack of medical staff.

Jobs for they boyos (who mostly happen to be in a union affiliated to... you've guessed it. LABOUR!!!!!!!)

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