NHS Privatisation: Freedom of Information Act reveals B’ham plans
Disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act [FOI] provides further evidence that the “use of private sector hospitals is undermining local NHS framework in Birmingham“ says NHS Patients Watchdog
The short and long term damaging impact on local NHS hospitals, a direct result of Government policy which forces public hospitals to use their resources on contracting services with private sector hospitals, has come to light following information placed in the public domain by the Freedom of Information Act.
The East Birmingham Patients Forum, the statutory body that represents patients and the public of Eastern Birmingham, submitted the request in September.
Mark Oley, the forums Vice-chair said “What the information clearly shows is that, by using public money from its budget to fund private sector care, Good Hope Hospital increased its debt profile, leading to an undermining of its services. Given that hospitals have to balance their budgets this may lead to greater cuts than those already expected by the hospital. 1 In effect, the stability the hospital had by keeping its budget ‘in house’ and providing care in a normal fashion has been lost. Using the private sector therefore firmly weakens public provision and leads to unplanned and radical cuts which appear likely in these circumstances. “
The FOI request showed that spending on Little Aston Hospital, one of three private hospitals that Good Hope transacted with during the period, increased by 48. 5% between 2002-03 and 2003-04 (from £632k to £1. 3m per annum).
Mark Oley also points out “We have been told repeatedly that GHH has a ‘historical’ debt of £20m, including £8m in this financial year. So why did the private sector management of the hospital (SECTA) commit to such activity when the end result was going to end in greater cuts to patient care provided by the public hospital? It does not make sense and further highlights how Government health policy is unsustainable, ill thought out and, long term, will damage beyond repair the already strained fabric of the NHS. We are recommending that the Dept of Health urgently review its current policies. “
The forum will be submitting its evidence to the Birmingham City Council Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, requesting that they conduct an investigation into the policy and impact on Birmingham’s health economy.
For further information on this information please contact Mark Oley through the forum support organisation or on 07810 471 660.
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