Care for elderly ‘close to collapse’ across UK as council funding runs out (The Guardian: 26 November 2016)

Theresa May is under intense pressure from senior doctors and a powerful cross-party alliance of politicians to avert a collapse in care for the elderly, as shocking new figures show the system close to meltdown.

The medical profession, together with Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat leaders in local government, have demanded a funding U-turn, warning that the safety of millions of elderly people is at risk because of an acute financial crisis completely overlooked in chancellor Philip Hammond’s autumn statement.

New figures obtained by the Observer show that 77 of the 152 local authorities responsible for providing care for the elderly have seen at least one residential and nursing care provider close in the last six months, because cuts to council budgets meant there were insufficient funds to run adequate services.

In 48 councils, at least one company that provides care for the elderly in their own homes has ceased trading over the same period, placing councils under sudden and huge pressure to find alternative provision.

In addition, 59 councils have had to find new care arrangements after contracts were handed back by a provider who decided that they were unable to make ends meet on the money that councils were able to pay them.

The medical profession, council leaders and even the former Tory health secretary, Andrew Lansley, are appalled that the social care crisis – exacerbated by growing numbers of elderly people and the rising costs of paying staff – was not addressed in the autumn statement.

In a letter to the Observer, the leaders of the four main political groups in local government expressed their disquiet at the chancellor’s dismissing talk of a crisis despite calls from politicians, NHS leaders, doctors and more

Budget cuts hitting mental health patients, says UNISON survey ( 21 November 2016)

More than four in five (83%) staff working in mental health surveyed said a postcode lottery exists in the level of care that patients receive. In some cases, people with severe conditions such as chronic anxiety and schizophrenia are unable to access help until they have reached crisis point.

The findings are based on a survey of more than 1,000 staff such as therapists, nurses and social workers employed by mental health care services including the NHS and councils across the UK.

The survey also highlights how increased patient demand for services, coupled with cuts in services have left those staff left behind facing intolerable pressures.

More than four in five (85%) surveyed said they had experienced cutbacks, and nearly nine in ten (88%) reported an increased workload. This has led to longer waiting times for patients before they can get help, according to more than half (52%) of staff, says UNISON.

UNISON head of health Christina McAnea said: “The government has pledged £1.25bn for mental health but services are still having budgets reduced. No-one should have to wait weeks to get the support they need, and staff shouldn’t be placed under such pressure that they risk using mental health services themselves.

“With fewer staff and more people seeking help, it’s no wonder that employees who dedicate their lives to helping others feel at breaking point. Funding for mental health services must reach those in need and not be diverted to plug gaps elsewhere in the NHS.” more


NHS funding and rationing: The debate intensifies (BBC News: 31 October 2016)

In 2014, ahead of the general election, George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, conjured up an extra £1.9bn for the NHS in England for 2015-16, after warnings there had been an unbridgeable gap in the finances.

Under the usual funding formula, this became £2.2bn across the UK, on the assumption the devolved administrations spent their allocations on health.

This was unveiled with a hospital photo opportunity involving Mr Osborne, Simon Stevens, of NHS England, and the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and was widely welcomed by health commentators and think tanks.

The election came and went, and it was not long into the 2015-16 financial year before hospital trust bosses were warning of mounting deficits and the sums not adding up.

Fast forward to the autumn of 2015, and Mr Osborne was publishing his Spending Review for the years up to More
Foolish’ not to focus on CAMHS as 70% of nurses find services inadequate (NHE: 3 October 2016)
It is “foolish” of the NHS and the government not to focus on meeting the needs of children with mental health issues, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) has said, as a poll revealed seven in 10 specialist nurses find CAMHS services either ‘inadequate’ or ‘highly inadequate’.

Of the 631 mental health nurses working in CAMHS surveyed, half said services are inadequate, whilst another 20% said they were highly inadequate. Just 13% believed they are good or very good, and the rest think they are simply ‘adequate’.

Fiona Smith, the RCN’s professional lead for children and young people’s nursing, said: “We are failing young people with mental health problems by not providing services and interventions in a timely more


NHS rationing under the radar ( 17 August 2016)

After years of increasing deficits, that last year culminated in the NHS posting the largest overspend in its history, local health systems have been told to balance their books.

This intensifies the difficult decisions that commissioners and providers have been facing for some time, about how to prioritise limited funding and balance their budgets in the face of rising demand. While the NHS has always had to set priorities, with these unprecedented financial pressures it is inevitable that some organisations will be forced to restrict access to certain services or dilute quality of care as they seek to curtail spending. In some areas this is happening already...Read More

Rising numbers could face 'crippling pain' as NHS rationing spreads (The Telegraph: 9 August 2016)

Increasing numbers of patients will be left to endure “crippling pain” as rationing spreads across the NHS, one of Britain’s most senior surgeons has warned.

Stephen Cannon, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons said bans on all but the most urgent treatment would become “commonplace” without major changes to the funding of the health service.

The NHS is in the grip of the worst financial crisis in its history, with increasing restrictions on cataract surgery and lengthening waiting times for hip and knee operations in most areas.

Yesterday St Helens clinical commissioning group in Merseyside took the unprecedented step of making plans to suspend all non-urgent treatment for four months, in an attempt to tackle its overspend.

In a letter to The Telegraph, Mr Cannon, an orthopaedic surgeon, said such bans would become widespread without a “realistic” increase in funding.

He also called for changes in the way existing funds are spent, to divert more money away from bureaucracy towards front-line care. “I am concerned that we could end up going back to the days when patients waited two or three years for operations” Stephen Cannon, Vice President of the Royal College of More


Call for cross-party commission into NHS and social care 'crisis' (Nursing Times: 20 September 2016)

The call to Theresa May comes from two former government health ministers and a shadow health minister.

Liberal Democrat North Norfolk MP Norman Lamb, who was a minister in the coalition government, has joined forces with Dr Dan Poulter, former minister and Conservative MP for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich, and Liz Kendall, Labour MP for Leicester West and a former shadow health minister.

In a joint statement, the three senior health figures argued that health and care services in England faced a serious existential challenge, and that partisan politics had failed to come up with long-term solutions to ensure that services are properly funded and sustainable for the future.

Highlighting expert warnings of growing gaps in social care and the diminishing ability of the NHS to meet demand under current spending plans, they called on the government to start a “national conversation with the public and healthcare staff” More


Exclusive: ITV News survey finds doctors 'rationing care' as cash crisis hits NHS ITV: 14 September 2016)

More than two thirds of doctors admit they have been left with no choice but to ration care as the NHS cash crisis intensifies.

Services and treatments including mental health care for children, hip and knee replacements and cancer drugs are being restricted in order to save money.

A survey of 1,000 doctors conducted exclusively for ITV News reveals patients are being denied treatments including varicose vein removal and cataract surgery, and forced to pay for care privately or wait for their condition to worsen.

Some patients ended up in A&E because they were refused More


Patient choice and private provision decreased public provision and increased inequalities in Scotland: a case study of elective hip arthroplasty (PubMed: 28 July 2016)

An increased use of private sector provision by NHS Boards was associated with a significant decrease in direct NHS provision in 2008/09 (P < 0.01) and with widening inequalities by age and socio-economic deprivation. National treatment rate fell from 143.8 (140.3, 147.3) per 100 000 in 2006/07 to 137.8 (134.4, 141.2) per 100 000 in 2007/08. By 2012/13, territorial NHS Boards had not recovered 2006/07 levels of provision; this was most marked for NHS Boards with the greatest use of private sector, namely Fife, Grampian and Lothian. Patients aged 85 years and over or living in the more deprived areas of Scotland appear to have been disadvantaged since the onset of patient choice in 2002.

NHS funding of private sector provision for elective hip arthroplasty was associated with a decrease in public provision and may have contributed to an increase in age and socio-economic inequalities in treatment more


Are commitments for mental health all talk and no action? (The Guardian: 29 July 2016)

Promises, platitudes and plans are piling up for mental health, but how much is going to be delivered?

Mental health accounts for roughly £12bn of the NHS budget. In parliamentary terms the current support for mental health is unprecedented – parity of esteem with physical health services is enshrined in the Health and Social Care Act 2012, plus last year’s spending review made explicit reference to improving quality, choice and outcomes in mental health.

But a recent report by the health select committee on the impact of the spending review on health and social care was sceptical about whether the rhetoric is being matched by actions. The committee called for verifiable evidence that the additional cash promised to mental health was reaching the front line, and that the cultural change necessary to deliver parity of esteem was happening.

The NHS planning guidance for 2016-21 instructs clinical commissioning groups to increase investment in mental health at least at the level which matches their overall spending increase, but whether this being done is disputed. NHS clinical commissioners insisted to MPs that this is happening while NHS Providers maintained the money is not coming through. It even accused commissioners of using “weird and wonderful calculation methodology” to justify their claims.

The government has made specific promises: more cash for young people with eating disorders, a “system-wide transformation” of children and young people’s mental health and perinatal mental health, and improved access to psychological therapies. But it is far from clear how the money for this will avoid being dragged into the black hole of the acute sector’s more

Two-thirds of GP referrals for child mental health lead to no treatment (Pulse: 4 July 2016)
An increasing number of vulnerable children are being refused vital mental health treatment that is recommended by their GP, finds a major Pulse investigation.

Figures obtained from 15 mental health trusts reveal that 60% of GP referrals to child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) lead to no treatment and a third are not even assessed.

The situation for young people with mental health issues appears to be worsening, with the numbers of referrals that progress to treatment decreasing from 44% in 2013 to 39% in 2015.

GPs told Pulse that CAMHS were refusing to treat patients unless they had attempted suicide or self-harmed. Many cases are being sent to school counsellors or charity services, when GPs have requested specialist input.

The figures come despite Government promises to increase access to mental health services for children, with an increase in funding of £1.4bn and a call to all regions to produce plans on how they are going to work together to improve CAHMS services.

The freedom of information requests to mental health trusts found that in Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust the number of CAMHS referrals progressing to treatment was 20%, down from 46% in 2013. At Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust the proportion treated fell from 42% to more


A national disgrace: NHS fails to treat child mental health (Pulse: 4 July 2016)

A whole generation of children is being failed by mental health services, say GPs who struggle to access specialist help for their patients.

GPs are finding their referrals increasingly batted back, with three in five of those made to specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) resulting in no treatment at all.

GPs report that local trusts are raising thresholds for care, with some only accepting patients who have attempted suicide or are experiencing symptoms of very serious mental illness. Cuts to mental health funding mean services have struggled to cope with a 40% increase in GP referrals since 2012. This has meant that young patients are being directed to local charities or school counsellors rather than receiving specialist care.

And this is all occurring as rates of suicide rise in the UK; it is now the leading cause of death among men aged 20 to 34 years.

The Government insists it is ploughing more investment into CAMHS but experts say it may be too little, too late to address a crisis that is causing significant suffering and storing up major problems for the more


Budget cuts leave occupational therapy posts unfilled as referrals rise (The Guardian: 28 June 2016)

Occupational therapists (OTs) make up 2% of the adult social services workforce but are responsible for around 40% of referrals, illustrating just how vital their expertise is. But cuts to council budgets are putting them under increasing pressure as vacancies are left unfilled and waiting lists for services increase. National figures show that the number of OT posts in adult social care in England fell by 4% in the year to September 2015. And in London, 18% of vacancies for experienced OT practitioners in adult and children’s services are being left unfilled. Harold Bodmer, president of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services and director of adult services for Norfolk county council, says: “Some of that is down to the cuts. What we are trying very hard to do is to put occupational therapy expertise to best use, so that some of their work can be done by other people with OTs overseeing them.”

Julia Skelton, director of professional operations at the College of Occupational Therapists, says the figures speak for themselves: “OTs are working very hard to keep the waiting lists for assessments down. When you consider we make up 2% of the workforce and take 40% of referrals, the figures say everything.”

The picture is similar in the NHS. Some parts of the UK which historically find it hard to recruit – rural Lincolnshire and the north of Scotland – are still struggling to fill posts across the board. In London, NHS trusts are seeing nearly 20% of their band 6 posts left vacant – these are qualified OTs with around two years’ experience, who make up the largest OT group. Most of these vacancies are in acute care, particularly mental more

Government cuts are brewing a sexual health crisis (The Guardian: 27 June 2016)
Sex has got a lot to answer for. The UK is facing a rising demand for sexual health and contraceptive care. Unacceptable levels of sexual coercion and female genital mutilation (FGM) are being reported, sexually transmitted infection (STI) diagnoses are increasing [pdf], and the UK still has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in western Europe.

Despite all of this, key services are facing monstrous budget cuts alongside so many other sectors of our increasingly weary NHS. This means clinic closures, the dissolution of preventative health programmes, further pressure on already overloaded GP practices, and horrifying long-term financial costs.

In truth, sexual health services have suffered financially for some time. With the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, responsibility for sexual health funding was allocated to local authorities and these services put out to tender.

Private companies can bid for control over them, which the government claimed would improve standards “through competition and choice”. In reality, the winning bids are often ones that offer immediate cost-saving rather than long-term financial benefits and the best possible standards of care.

In 2015, the government announced its £200m public health budget cut, resulting in local councils spending millions of pounds less than planned on sexual health services nationwide. Add to this a potential 40% cut in central funding to local authorities and you can see how pressure is more


‘This isn’t acceptable’: outcry at state of NHS mental health care funding (The Observer: 11 June 2016)

A cross-party inquiry by MPs into the funding of mental health services has received more than 95,000 personal submissions in an unprecedented display of anger over the state of the NHS.

One woman who submitted testimony linking the lack of support to suicide rates said the failure of the system to respond to people in trouble was often “what pushes you over the edge”. She wrote: “I’m scared my husband could become one of these statistics.”

A separate YouGov poll commissioned and crowdfunded by the campaigning organisation 38 Degrees found that 74% of voters believe that funding for mental health should be greater or equal to funding for physical health. The amount actually spent on mental health by the NHS last year, despite government pledges to establish parity, was just 11.9% of overall NHS spending.

Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the public accounts committee holding the inquiry, said the scale of the response underlined the strength of feeling that mental health was being underfunded. “We shall question NHS England and the Department of Health on how they can meet the government’s pledges,” she said.

The poll findings come as a new report, to be published on Monday by the NSPCC, says NHS commissioners are failing to take abused children into account when planning mental health services. The charity says the government’s £1.4bn investment in children’s mental health services is not being deployed to aid children who need help after abuse. Peter Wanless, chief executive of the NSPCC, said: “Often, it’s only when children reach rock bottom, regularly self-harming or feeling suicidal, that the services they need so desperately open up to them. This isn’t acceptable.” more


Mental health support 'denied to children' (BBC News: 28 May 2016)

More than a quarter of children referred to mental health services in England in 2015 - including some who had attempted suicide - received no help, a report says.

A review by the Children's Commissioner also found that 13% with life-threatening conditions were not allowed specialist support.

She said the system was "playing Russian roulette" with their health.

NHS England said it was "clearly the case" that services need to expand.

The commissioner obtained data from 48 of England's 60 child and adolescent mental health service trusts, and discovered 28% of child referrals were denied specialist treatment - mostly on the grounds that their illness was not serious enough.

This group included children who had attempted serious self-harm and those with psychosis and anorexia nervosa.

It also found that those who secured treatment faced lengthy delays, with an average waiting time of more than 100 more

GPs like me can't help mental health patients in 10 minutes – it's cruel (The Guardian: 16 May 2016)
The word compassion in all Latin derived languages combines the prefix, with (com) and the root, to bear or suffering (passio). For a doctor and all health professionals this is a given prerequisite. We suffer with our patients. It is the essential penance we shoulder in return for the wondrous joy of helping those in need.

I am a GP, and as such I act as one of the gatekeepers to the health service. People of any age and problem can walk through our door. Wherever possible we either treat or reassure. If not then we direct the patient to another NHS service for help.

In general practice we see a large number of patients in need. Few people more so than those struggling with mental health problems. There are 10 times more people suffering with major depression compared to 1945. It is utterly heartbreaking to see a depressed person who is struggling, only to reply to them: “Sorry, but the counselling you need is at least a six-week wait”. To this patient, six weeks is 42 days (and nights), 1,008 hours, 60,480 minutes or 3.63 million seconds.

These seconds are not ordinary seconds. Life feels like constantly walking in oversized wellies through knee-high wet mud. It is backbreaking, emotionally draining, gloomy and painful. As their GP, I have to condemn my patient to at least 3.63 million seconds of further torture without hope. I feel so helpless and more


NHS mental health funding is still lagging behind, says report (The Guardian: 9 May 2016)
Government pledges to put more money into mental health are being broken because the NHS is not passing the money on to the NHS trusts that treat patients, a new report has revealed.

Care for people who need psychological help will suffer unless a chasm is bridged between ministerial promises and cash reaching the frontline, campaigners warn.

The disparity also threatens to undermine the historic change in 2012 that compelled the NHS in England to give physical and mental health equal priority or “parity of esteem”. Although mental ill-health accounts for 28% of the total burden of disease, it gets just 13% of the NHS’s budget.

New research undertaken by NHS Providers and the Healthcare Financial Management Association, revealed on Monday, found that only half of the 32 mental health trusts they spoke to – 55% of the total – had received a real-terms increase in their budgets in 2015-16. And only 25% said they expected NHS clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to increase the value of their contracts for 2016-17, even though the 209 CCGs have seen an average 3.4% rise in their budgets this more


Mental health services must get the funding they need - Saffron Cordery (The Guardian: 9 May 2016)

The phrase “parity of esteem” when used to describe the treatment of mental health services in the NHS is rightly being put under the microscope. It has been widely used to communicate a commitment to improving quality, broadening access to services and boosting funding. However, recently it has become clear that there is a gap between this intention and the reality on the ground.

Our report, Funding Mental Health at Local Level: Unpicking the Variation, published in partnership with the Healthcare Financial Management Association, shows just that, and it makes for difficult reading. Despite a number of funding boosts, it is clear that the necessary investment just isn’t reaching frontline mental health services. Our survey found that only half of mental health trusts received a real-term increase last year, despite the fact that the commissioners who fund them were required to increase their investment in line with their overall financial allocation.

Particularly concerning is the finding that NHS England is not necessarily leading by example. It is responsible for setting the rules and for holding local commissioners to account for their spending plans, yet its own specialised commissioning teams are not consistently meeting parity of esteem commitments towards mental health services, with only a third of trusts receiving a real-terms increase in 2015–16.

The situation does not look like it will improve this year either. Although we are still concluding the contracting round for 2016–17, providers were even less positive about receiving additional investment, with only a quarter confident that they would see a real-term increase...(read more)


Vulnerable people regularly refused access to GPs, says charity (The Guardian: 30 April 2016)

Some of the most vulnerable people in the UK are regularly refused access to a doctor, according to a report.

Pregnant women, children and homeless people are among those who have been wrongly turned away from practices. Medical care is also refused to sex workers, domestic workers and people who have suffered torture, trafficking, domestic and sexual violence, research has found.

In some cases, vulnerable people have been refused registration on more than one occasion.

The research conducted by Doctors of the World (DoTW) found that medical centres and GP surgeries were refusing to help at least two in five people, despite their being eligible for free primary more


Mental health trust forced to cut services (Pulse: 6 April 2016)

A mental health trust in Manchester has cut seven frontline community-based services to save £1m, in one of the first major decisions taken since the city was given total control over its health budget.

Manchester Mental Health and Social Care Trust (MHSC) proposed the cuts in October and, despite a huge public outcry, decided last week to push through with plans.

The decision comes as Greater Manchester has been given complete control over its £6bn health budget following the implementation of ’DevoManc’, becoming the first region of England to have devolved healthcare powers.

Services to be cut include those for chronic fatigue and psychosexual disorders, as well as gardening more

Eye risk from 'overstretched NHS' (BBC News: 16 March 2016)

Eye specialists say hundreds of patients suffer irreversible sight loss every year in England because services are overstretched and under-resourced. The president of The Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Prof Carrie MacEwen, writing for the BBC's Scrubbing Up, warns the NHS is struggling to keep up because of a "perfect storm" of increased demand, caused by more eye disease in an ageing population which requires requiring long term care.

She says the current treatment targets fail to reflect the critical importance of follow-up appointments, which may be delayed for months or even more


Charity warnings over clinical reference group cuts (HSJ: 11 March 2016)

Charities have written to NHS England raising concerns about plans to cut the number of clinical reference groups and reduce their membership, HSJ has learned.

The Brain Tumour Charity and Sarcoma UK have sent a letter to Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England, warning that the move will “dilute” the specialist advisory knowledge currently provided about different cancer types.

Charities are worried about specific CRGs being merged into a broader “cancer surgery CRG”

The Neurological Alliance and the British Kidney Patient Association have also said that reducing CRGs’ membership will impact their ability to represent patients.

Last month NHS England announced it was planning to cut the number of CRGs from 71 to 38. The groups are responsible for advising NHS England on how it spends its £14bn specialised services budget, and help it to develop commissioning policies and service more


Jeremy Hunt urged to act against avoidable deaths from epilepsy (The Independent: 12 March 2016)

The Epilepsy Society has launched a new campaign calling on the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to act against avoidable deaths from the condition.

Although sufferers are at greater risk of premature death, almost four in 10 of those deaths are avoidable, according to the charity, which says better care, treatment and services are urgently needed. It has also launched an online campaign urging MPs to write to Mr Hunt requesting that a National Clinical Audit into the condition take place – for the first time since 2002. 


The Epilepsy Society said the most worrying aspect is the postcode lottery for the 500,000 people in England living with the condition. Data from the Office for National Statistics shows that rates of premature death vary vastly: for example, someone with epilepsy is 49 per cent more likely to die prematurely in West Yorkshire than in Cheshire.

The Department of Health’s removal of two of the epilepsy performance indicators that are used to evaluate local commissioners has left local health decision-makers in the dark about how services are performing in averting premature death in epilepsy, the charity more


Why are more children being prescribed antidepressants? Funding cuts (The Guardian: 11 March 2016)

New research published this week shows that between 2005 and 2013 there was a 54% increase in the number of children and young people prescribed antidepressants in the UK. The World Health Organisation’s director of mental health, Dr Shekhar Saxena, has expressed concern about the reasons behind this rise.

Antidepressants are not licensed for prescription for under-18s, with one exception. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence clinical guidelines state that fluoxetine, a type of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, can be used in under-18s, but should not be prescribed without first referring the child for talking therapy. The two treatments should coexist and the child should be monitored carefully, particularly in the first few weeks after starting the drug, when the risk of the “major harm” Saxena speaks of is at its more


Liverpool NHS jobs face the axe because of community health funding cuts (Liverpool Echo: 17 February 2016)

Up to 30 NHS staff in Liverpool could lose their jobs as services including exercise classes for dementia patients and anti-smoking sessions face the axe.

Liverpool council is cutting the amount of cash it gives to Liverpool Community Health NHS Trust (LCH) – leaving staff in a “difficult and uncertain time”, according to trade union Unison.

Services that could be cut include healthy eating campaigns, stop smoking sessions for pregnant women, exercise classes for dementia sufferers and work to promote dental health.

Unison warned the cuts will damage the city’s health in the long run by storing up problems for the future.

A statement from the union said 30 LCH staff now fear losing their jobs due to the more


Spike in mental health patient deaths shows NHS 'struggling to cope' (The Guardian: 26 January 2016)

A sudden spike in the number of mental health patients dying unexpectedly in NHS care has prompted calls for a wide-ranging investigation into “threadbare” services that are “struggling to cope”.

New NHS figures show that the number of deaths annually among mental health patients in England has risen 21% over the last three years from 1,412 to 1,713.

The number of those killing themselves or trying to do so has also increased, by 26% from 595 in 2012-13 to 751 in 2014-15. It covers both those being treated as inpatients for serious mental health problems and also those who are being cared for while still living at home.

Figures obtained by Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP, show that the overall number of “serious incidents” – involving unexpected or avoidable deaths, serious harm, injury and abuse – has climbed 34% to 8,139 a year. They have become so common that one trust, North East London foundation trust, had a total of 633 last year – almost two a day... Read more

NHS rationing 'is denying patients care' as cash crisis deepens (The Guardian: 8 December 2015)

Patients are being denied mental health care, new hips and knees, and drugs to boost their recovery from illnesses including cancer as the NHS increasingly rations treatments to try to overcome its growing cash crisis.

A survey of doctors reveals that three-quarters said they had seen care rationed in their area over the last year – including treatments such as speech therapy, operations to remove varicose veins, Botox to help children with cerebral palsy move better and even potentially life-saving stem cell transplant surgery.

Disabled children were having to use ill-fitting wheelchairs, teenage girls were banned from accessing medication to tackle male-style hair growth and women had been unable to access surgery to have breast enlargements or reductions as a result of growing restrictions across England, the research concluded.

Medical organisations said the findings showed patients were paying the price because an underfunded NHS was having to force them to wait for care or deny it more


Only support service for vulnerable people with HIV in Leeds to be axed by city council (Yorkshire Evening Post: 15 October 2015)

Leeds’ only HIV support service faces closure, prompting fears it could leave hundreds of vulnerable people at risk.

BHA Leeds Skyline, on The Headrow, has received notification from Leeds City Council that its contract will not be renewed as of March 31 next year. 

The council cited the £2.8million public health cut handed down by the Government earlier this year as a major reason for the decision but said it will work with service users and staff to address any uncertainty.


English people with rare eye condition may be forced to move to Scotland to 'save their sight', says charity (The Independent: 25 July 2015)

English people living with a rare eye condition may be forced to move to Scotland or Wales to “save their sight”, the country’s leading charity for the blind has said, after the NHS refused to fund routine access to treatments.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) said it was considering legal action over NHS England’s decision not to recommended routine use of the drugs Humira and Remicade for patients with a severe form of the inflammatory eye condition, uveitis.

Both drugs are routinely available in Scotland and Wales and their use is standard practice in many other countries. A trial of Humira for one group of paediatric uveitis patients, taking place in the UK, was stopped early because overwhelming evidence of the drugs’ benefit meant it was deemed unethical to continue giving some children placebo.

However, NHS England concluded there was “not sufficient evidence” to recommend routine use.


Eating disorder patients' lives at risk due to long waits for NHS treatment (The Guardian: 14 June 2015)

The lives of people seriously ill with eating disorders are being put at risk because they have to wait up to three years for NHS treatment.

Experts warn that specialist services are struggling to cope with a growing caseload and are so overstretched they have to prioritise patients with anorexia, because they are at greatest risk, ahead of those with bulimia – even though their condition is seriously affecting their lives.

Patients forced to endure long delays are at greater risk of serious damage to their health because it deteriorates while they are waiting. They also have a smaller chance of making a full recovery.

Some people wait so long they are forced to pay for help privately or get help abroad – in South Africa, the US and elsewhere – to tackle conditions that have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness.

Psychiatrists who treat people with eating disorders – often girls and young women – say NHS services are so inadequate that in some places patients who are very unwell have to lose more weight to qualify for treatment.


Mental health could retain Cinderalla status under Tories, warns ex-minister (The Guardian: 3 June 2015)

Mental health care will remain “a Cinderella service” and not get its long-planned equality with physical health in the NHS because the Conservatives will deny it the money it needs, the MP who was the minister for mental health until the election is warning.

Significant recent progress to improve mental health will stall, and a “historic opportunity” to ditch its status as the “poor relation” of physical ailments will be lost, if ministers do not put more than the promised £8bn extra into the NHS by 2020, Norman Lamb said.

The Liberal Democrat leadership candidate fears plans for new waiting time targets for people with conditions such as anxiety and depression to access treatment will be scrapped unless ministers plough £3.5bn into mental health over the next five years.


Obese patients denied surgery by NHS rationing (GP: 10 June 2015)

GP leaders slammed the ‘rationing’ of NHS services and warned that the restrictions on access to care appeared to breach the NHS Constitution.

NHS England’s national commissioning criteria for bariatric surgery could prevent GPs from referring patients for bariatric surgery in line with NICE guidance.

The NICE clinical guideline Obesity: Identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in children, young people and adults was issued in November 2014.

It recommends bariatric surgery as a treatment option for patients with obesity if they ‘have a BMI of 40kg/mor more’ or a BMI ‘between 35kg/mand 40kg/mand other significant disease’.

It adds that ‘all appropriate non-surgical measures have been tried’ and the patient ‘has been receiving or will receive’ intensive management in a 'tier three' service.

The NICE guidance does not impose any time restrictions on access to care. But NHS England’s commissioning policy stipulates that the patient must have ‘received and complied’ with a tier three or four weight-loss management service ‘for a duration of 12-24 months’ in order to qualify for bariatric surgery. It also dictates that the patient must have been morbidly obese – BMI 40 or higher – ‘for at least five years’ to be eligible for the potentially lifesaving treatment.


NHS vasectomies rationed as health service forced to make cuts (Daily Mirror: 25 May 2015)

Free vasectomies are being rationed in some parts of the country, as the NHS is forced to cut costs.

One commissioning group has told GP practices to cap the number of snips offered to patients.

Each surgery in Basildon and Brentwood, in Essex, has been sent a letter assigning them a specific amount of vasectomies for the 2015/2016 financial year, ranging from 11 to one.

Three surgeries are believed to have been told they can refer just one man a year for the procedure, which is a permanent method of contraception.


NHS crisis: Damning report reveals nurses are too stretched to feed and care for patients (Daily Mirror: 13 April 2015)

Patients are being denied pain relief, food and water due to NHS cuts, a damning report has revealed.

Disturbingly, 65% of nurses said the sick are missing out on basic care because of the chronic understaffing.

It shames the Tories – who have slashed the health budget by £20billion – as they launch their election manifesto.

The Patients Association said the Unison report filled it “with horror”.

Now David Cameron’s boasts about the NHS being in good health are exposed as a sick joke.

The explosive report reveals vulnerable people are being left for hours because nurses are so overstretched that they are having to take responsibility for more patients than is safe.

The frail and elderly are going without basics such as food and water because of staff shortages.


NHS treatment cuts 'lack consistency' (Laboratory Talk: 2 March 2015)

During 2011, England’s NHS was tasked with finding £20 billion of efficiency savings over four years, in part by reducing the use of ineffective, overused or inappropriate procedures.

However, a report published today by researchers at Imperial College London (ICL) has found that an absence of clear national guidance about which procedures to perform less has caused inconsistency among NHS commissioning groups.

“Our research revealed a lack of consistency between commissioning organisations regarding which procedures were cut,” said Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, from the School of Public Health at ICL, who led the study.

“With little national guidance about which procedures to remove or restrict funding for and under which circumstances, commissioners may be turning to locally developed, unofficial lists and criteria of low-value treatments,” Coronini-Cronberg said.

“This urgently needs to be addressed to avoid local variations. Arbitrary decision-making needs to be replaced with objective, consistent, evidence-based policies.”


Women 'denied fertility treatment due to NHS cuts' (ITV News: 23 October 2014) 

Two-thirds of Britons with depression get no treatment (The Guardian: 13 August 2014) 

The UK's small rural GP surgeries fear for their future (BBC News: 21 July 2014)

Elderly patients are being failed by NHS, says new boss (BBC News: 4 June 2014)

Councils using NHS funds meant for improved elderly and mental healthcare to prop up existing social care, study finds (Pulse: 14 May 2014)

Mentally ill ‘die earlier due to NHS failures’ (The Independent: 6 May 2014) 


Reward healthy people with tax rebates to save the NHS, urges thinktank (The Guardian: 1 May 2014)

GP braced for shutdown after ‘toxic mix’ of loss of funds and high demands. (The Guardian, 16 April 2014) 

Under 16s 'refused access to mental health safe havens' (BBC News: 16 April 2014)

Treat your own dementia, Essex patients told (Open Democracy: 20 March 2014)

NHS care at home for elderly and disabled quietly slashed by a third (The Telegraph: 14 January 2014)

Fears for the elderly under new NHS drugs policy (The Telegraph: 9 January 2014)

Inquiry into conflicting accounts regarding NHS 'queue jumping (BBC News: 9 September 2013)

Suicidal patients turned away in Sussex as mental health service reaches crisis point (The Argus: 23 October 2013)

NHS hospitals performing record numbers of private operations in 'two-tier' health service (Daily Mirror: 20 September 2013)

Threat to diabetes sufferers as NHS rations test strips (The Independent: 1 August 2013)


Our use of cookies / millipedia :: ethical digital