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Well, it is interesting that the Health Secretary is saying that the NHS is enjoying its "best year ever" with record amounts of money being spent and at the same time we are reading of financial crisies, staff shortages, closures of specialist units, and now proposals to close hospitals.

What has the money been spent on? I think that we can all guess...

I declare an interest here as my three children were all born in Hinchingbrooke Hospital. It is a great hospital that truly serves its community and the surrounding area.

I am glad that Andrew has highlighted this situation and will be interested to see how the debate develops.

Andrew has done a great job once more. Labour have always used the NHS as a political football, its disgraceful.

Rosie Winterton's defence on Radio 4 "its normal""Blears just there to understand political effect""no input to policy" should have been torn to bits but wasn't.
Labour forever hold up Westminster Council's housing scandal as example gf political advantage driving policy. Here we see yet again how the NuLab SPADs and placemen have built political advantage into their system. Surely any ethical Minister would realise that NHS decisions on Hospital changes must be dealt with in an obviously hand-off approach.

My wife, a newly qualified midwife, has just got a job at Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon!!

In spite of the financial position, Hinchingbrooke remains one of the most effective and efficient acute hospitals in the UK.

* Its accident and emergency department is consistently in the top 10.

* Hinchingbrooke remains in the top 40 out of 130 acute trusts.

* This month, the Healthcare Commission rated it "excellent" for diagnosis and medical management.

Hinchingbrooke's problem stems back to the forced reorganisation of Primary Care Trusts in Cambs. The merger of all the trusts meant that suddenly efficient ones had finances diverted away to prop up poorer ones. All of a sudden Hinchingbrooke goes from being outstanding to just average.

The CEO and Finance Director have resigned as they are now in an impossible position. All their plans for the next decade were based on investing in their success. Now the goalposts have been moved, the new treatment centre etc is just a bloody great millstone around their necks.

It is our fundamental diffence - Tories pull standards up to the highest being achieved and Labour drag success down to the lowest common denominator.

Very true richard, and this goes right through society. They see sucess as inequality, be it in Hospitals, Schools or Business.

I have mixed feelings about this, despite what anyone says, one only has to watch episodes of Yes Minister (especially the Yes Prime Minister episode on banning smoking) to know that trying to manage negative effects of policy decisions in marginal seats is hardly a new notion, and I might be a bitter old cynic, but I'd be amazed if Labour weren't doing this across the board. I'd also be amazed if we hadn't done it in the past either. Its politics.

I think the 'political influence' angle actually deflects attention from the massive mal-administration of the NHS and the fact that the current 'financial crisis' has been caused by ill-thought out scheme after badly planed contract put in place by this government in spite of massively increased spending.

'Politicans try to win/avoid losing votes' is hardly a 'hold the front page' moment in most people's eyes.

The police should be asked to investigate, because on the face of it this would be misconduct in public office, a criminal offence carrying a maximum sentence of life imprisonment:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section22/chapter_c.html

but all the participants including those who do not hold public office would already be guilty of "inchoate offences" up to and including conspiracy to commit a criminal offence, even if the plan was not put into effect:

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section12/chapter_h.html#_Toc44653351

But oh look, it's beginning to come out:

"She also asked for lists showing hospitals where the European Working Time Directive is likely to hit hardest, making 24-hour rotas hard to sustain."

In fact it has already hit, and was cited in the Bucks Free Press last year and again this February:

http://www.bucksfreepress.co.uk/search/display.var.688716.0.health_chief_defends_trust_over_changes.php

"Neither hospital had enough junior staff to run emergency rotas under the European working time directive - surgeons can't work more than 56 hours a week, including being on call."

See "Keeping the NHS Local – A New Direction of Travel" ca Feb 2003, page 16.

http://www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/08/59/47/04085947.pdf

"Why services may need to change – European Working Time Directive

2.2.16 While the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) already applies to the majority of NHS staff it will soon apply to doctors in training as well. Implementation will be on a phased basis starting in 2004, with a maximum 48-hour week applying to this group of staff by 2009 or 2012 at the latest. It is important that future service models allow working patterns that are compliant with the EWTD, and achieving this has been taken as a given in developing the framework."

But the government under-estimated the extra costs when they negotiated the new contracts and set staffing levels etc, which is one reason among several why hospitals have been struggling to avoid budget deficits.

Anybody who thinks that as long as you stick to "schools'n'hospitals" you can avoid "talking about Europe" is way behind the times.

The vicious acts of a departing government, spewing out its hatred for others and destroying the asset base in retaliation.
We should never have thought NuLab capable of such wanton acts, but politics is war, and like any dictatorship they are prepared to wreck the infrastructure to remain in power, or certainly ruin for those that follow on.
I trust that Andrew Lansley will get a proper enquiry going once Parliament reconvenes from its interminable holiday. This sort of action has all the implications of the loans for peerages scandal. Heads must roll.

This is disgraceful. And to argue that "well, they've all always done it" is even worse.

Apart from anything else, this isn't just spending a dollop of extra money on a white elephant Humber Bridge or other traditional pork barrelling. Because the overall budget has now run out, they are deliberately curtailing hospital facilities in Tory and LD constituencies in order to switch the money into Labour marginals. They are literally putting lives at risk in no-hope constituencies in order to shore up their support in those 100 or so key marginals that will decide the next election.

In our hopeless dysfunctional democracy, we've got used to seeing elections take place in those marginals and nowhere else. But systematically redirecting health spending on the basis of psephological "heat maps" has to be a new low.

The more airtime this gets the better, and let's hope the electorate draws the right conclusion- politicians cannot be trusted with public services (As Alan Milburn effectively said yesterday).

OT: who writes Tamzin Lightwater?

They are literally putting lives at risk in no-hope constituencies in order to shore up their support in those 100 or so key marginals that will decide the next election.<

This is similar to Robert Mugabe only allowing food aid to reach his supporters. They are not called ZaNu Labour for nothing.

If you have a politicised healthcare system run on command and control lines from the centre, what do you expect? Would the Tories be any different.....especially as Cameron refuses to reform the NHS?

A few prison sentences would sort this out, even if it was only two years in an open prison rather the maximum sentence of life served in Pentonville.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section22/chapter_c.html

"The elements of misconduct in public office are:

a) A public officer acting as such.
b) Wilfully neglects to perform his duty and/or wilfully misconducts himself.
c) To such a degree as to amount to an abuse of the public's trust in the office holder.
d) Without reasonable excuse or justification.

From the Times report it seems that those criteria have been satisfied, and criminal offences have been committed.

http://www.cps.gov.uk/legal/section12/chapter_h.html#_Toc44653351

"The offence of incitement occurs when a person seeks to persuade another to commit a criminal offence. It is not a defence to a charge of incitement that the other person, for whatever reason, does not commit the offence, or commits a different offence to that incited."

"The essential element of the crime of conspiracy is the agreement by two or more people to carry out a criminal act. Even if nothing is done in furtherance of the agreement, the offence of conspiracy is complete."

So the Labour party officials could be banged up as well.

We must rigorously cleanse our political system of every trace of corruption and criminality, not just shrug our shoulders and accept that one lot of politicians will be just as corrupt and criminal as the other.

Andrew Lansley is proving to be a real asset - on what was Labour's strongest issue, we now se them falling apart. He was a great help to us in Wallasey when the not-so-local PCT decided to axe two elderly wards; visiting the wards and following up with calls later. This latest revelation is sadly too typical of New Labour, locally and nationally.

Yup, prison sentences are the way to go. Since the police have finally got some cojones after decades of ignoring blatant sale of honours, hopefully this will be the next step.

I just did a quick calculation. The NHS costs the taxpayer £80 billion a year, I believe. The number of people working is 20 million. Dividing one by the other, that means that every worker is taxed £4,000, each and every year, to provide healthcare. BUPA costs around £500 a year, at age 40. Unless I am making some horrible mistake, how on earth can such a charge be justified? As we all know by now, you have to wait 3 months+ between appointments to see consultants; so this means that it takes 3 months for the first appointment, 6 months to the first tests, etc. So most people don't bother unless they must endure such misery. You know, I wouldn't buy this service, if I had the choice. For that price, I could get the best health cover in the world -- if I was allowed to! When will this awful scam be abolished?

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