Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Darzi exposed

Resistance is futile

Most medical people recognise that Darzi was brought in to give a veneer of clinician support to the wholesale transfer of healthcare to the private sector. While we recognise it, we are individually powerless to resist this and our BMA representatives are, at best, supine to the extreme, and at worst, enabling the government in its plans by suggesting that, for example, doctors' work could be done by pharmacists, nurses, paramedics and other various jumped up quacks who did not possess the intelligence and work ethic to train as real doctors.

With her permission, I have reproduced a posting on DNUK (a doctors only site) by Miss Anna Athow, a Consultant Surgeon with 35 years experience as a doctor. Although it is perhaps overlong it does dissect the truth behind Darzi's reforms and needs a broader readership.

Darzi's 'Framework of Action'=NHS privatisation in England

The “Framework for Action” plan for Londons healthcare fronted By Professor Sir Ara Darzi, proposes the destruction of a publicly provided NHS in London. It is a blue print for privatising the NHS nationally.

Lord Darzi, the National Advisor on Surgery, has been working with the Labour government for 10 years on the NHS plan and promoted the separation of elective from emergency surgery into independent sector treatment centres( ISTCs). Under Gordon Brown he has been elevated to under secretary of state for health and he is being used to pretend that doctors are in favour of dismantling the NHS.

This lengthy document, is designed to deceive the unwary, laced as it is with fine phrases about improving healthcare and ending inequality. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It claims to be about services not institutions. In fact it proposes to smash the fundamental institutions of the NHS; NHS general practices and district general hospitals (DGHs), and replace them with brand new institutions; POLYCLINICS

Though the report does not say so, these would be owned and run by private healthcare corporations and would act like American health maintenance organisations.

The essence of the destruction plan is to be found in the Technical document. Accountant have analysed all the health care procedures performed in London in 2005/6 . Using the techniques developed for payments by results ( PBR) tariffs, every healthcare procedure perfomed in London in 2005/6 has been classified by HRG ( Health Resource Group ) and the volume of each of them recorded.

London’s entire healthcare is then viewed from a commercial perspective and is laid out as a prospectus to attract private healthcare investors. It is is the complete antithesis of a medical approach to healthcare, which begins from clinical needs.
This document starts out from the financial interests of the private healthcare providers and divides the whole of medicine into arbitrary “ Service Lines” based on estimated profitability.

Elective surgery for example is divided into – complex, "high throughput", minor procedures and under 17s. “ High throughput” surgery consists of procedures such as cataracts, arthroscopies and inguinal hernia repairs. These belong to the surgical specialties of ophthalmology, orthopaedics and general surgery, but are all lumped together because they are attractive to ISTCs as short episodes of surgical care.

We are told that the small group behind the technical paper worked to basic principles the first of which, was to allocate to Polyclinics every aspect of healthcare they could. This is what they have done. Essentially every walking patient having a daytime procedures has been allocated to polyclinic care.

60% of London's healthcare would end up in them.They would contain
*50% of community care, (district nurses health visitors etc)
*50% of outpatients clinics, shifted out of hospitals
* 50% of A&E patients shifted from hospitals into walk in urgent care centres
*all ‘routine’ diagnostics such as xrays, CTscans, other tests.
Also, regular attenders, patients with Long term conditions, non emergency medical procedures such as endoscopies, patients having chemo therapy, minor operations etc.

Polyclinics would predominantly employ GPs and nurse practitioners or other practitioners. There would be few consultants and staff nurse support. There would be no junior doctors.
For 150 new polyclinics each with catchment areas of 50,000 population to be successfully launched, Londons district general hospital are to be largely destroyed.

Darzi says. “ The days of the DGH doing all services to high standard are over.”
The plan is that the 32 DGHs in London would be reduced to between 8 to 16 acute major hospitals.
The other 16 to 24 DGHs would be destroyed or turned into rumps called Local hospitals.
Local hospitals would have medical inpatients only. There would be no surgeons or anaesthetists on site. Intensive care units would be closed. The A&E department would remain open, but would be in the dangerous situation of not having surgery on site. So if a surgical emergency arrived or developed, they propose that either a surgeon would be called in from another hospital or if the patient were very ill, he would intubated and ventilated and shipped across London in an ambulance to one of the few acute major hospitals left.

Supposedly, ambulance men would be trained to decide which patient should go to the urgent care centre in the polyclinic, which to a Local Hospital and which to a major acute hospital. They would learn to “bypass” hospitals.
Those DGHs closed completely, as is planned at Chase Farm Hospital in Enfield, would become sites for polyclinics, walk in urgent care centres +/- elective surgical centres (ISTCs).

Darzi says that six clinical working groups were set up to advise him on the new models for healthcare ( mental health left to one side )
1. maternity and new born
2. staying healthy
3. acute care
4. planned care
5. longterm conditions
6. end of life care.
The division of healthcare into these apparently arbitrary divisions becomes clear on reading the recommendations. 1. 3 and 5. are to be cut to the bone. 2. 4. and 6. are to enjoy huge new investment for the private sector.
1.3.5. all comprise consultant intensive hospital specialties.
1. Consultant led obstetric units are to be reduced and replaced with midwife led birthing units and home births (to increase from 2% now to 10% target in the future.)
3. Paediatrics, emergency and elective surgery and intensive care units are to be stripped out of DGHs as described above.
5. Patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, who in their old age make up the majority of acute hospital admissions are to have their acute care massively cut. Every effort is to be made to keep them out of hospital. They are to look after themselves, and go to polyclinics.

2.4. and 6 are to be expanded. Private enterprises are to be employed keeping people healthy. Planned care like outpatients, diagnostics and elective surgery are to shifted into polyclinics and ISTCs. As for the dying, the DoH has suddenly developed great enthusiasm for helping patients to die out of hospital and in their own home. Private companies called “ End of Life service providers”are to get the lucrative contracts.

What we had in the NHS was primary care (GPs and community care ), which was local and personal, secondary care ( DGHs and teaching hospitals) embracing all aspects of care on one site and providing training for the next generation of doctors and other staff, and tertiary care ( more specialised hospitals for less prevalent conditions such as neurosurgery, burns, etc )
The Darzis plan proposed to disentegrate care into seven models;-
Local hospitals
Elective surgery centres
Major acute hospital, specialist hospitals. Academic Health Science Centres.
Polyclinics, and elective surgery centres would be owned and run by private corporations. The latter hospitals have to become foundation trusts by 2008 so these would be run as businesses. The plan for local hospitals is probably to starve them of funds and gradually run them down. There would be no NHS left.

“ Commissioning can only drive change if it has a direct impact on the income of healthcare providers. Funding flows need to be used to incentivise the best practice contained in this report. At its simplest, this means commissioners defining the best practice for a patient pathway and then ensuring that this best and only this is the best practice they pay for.”
These stark words say it all. The commissioners will dictate so called “ best practice”. If that means that a patient can only be seen by a nurse practitioner in a polyclinic and not by a consultant at a hospital, so it will be.
The commissioning role of PCTs is now being outsourced so that the private corporations will be laying down the rules of so called “ best practice ” pathways.

THE DARZI PLAN MUST BE TOTALLY REJECTED. It represents a fatal reduction in the volume and quality of healthcare for Londoners in the interests of big business. The BMA should unite with other unions in fighting to defend the NHS. The government has no mandate for privatising the NHS and must go. It must be replaced with a government which will fully fund a publicly provided NHS.


the a&e charge nurse said...

I think Miss Athows analysis is likely to prove chillingly accurate.

These proposals certainly put NHS staff in an invidious position.

Should we fight ?
On the grounds that Darzai's plan is very likely to subvert the NHS's founding principles, as Miss Athow suggests.

Or jockey for position, so as not to end up working for a hospital Trust that is left out in the cold ?

Divide and rule, one of the oldest and most effective strategies to frighten people, eh ?

Anonymous said...

If you're all so unhappy why don't you leave the NHS and find new jobs. It's a market, don't you get it?

Anonymous said...

Looks a bit like Lord Haw-Haw, is it him?

Anonymous said...

I do rather think that you have portrayed Darzi as William Joyce, "Lord Haw-Haw". Have you thought this out?

Dr Ray said...

Anonymous 1, 2 & 3,
Thank you for your contributions.
As for leaving the NHS and finding new jobs this does work in our favour in a free market as we have the skills that you need. Go to and see I am all for a free market. Unfortunately, the UK we have a monopoly employer and even private hospitals require consultants to have a substantial NHS job because it is a mark of quality. The only place we could work would be at an ISTC where we would be competing with unemployed doctors from Eastern Europe-not attractive.
Yes it is Lord Haw-Haw. I did have my doubts about using this since it is a principle of the medical profession that we treat our colleagues with respect but Darzi has, in truth, gone native and is now a politician and is fair game.

PhD scientist said...

The problem is, of course, that if the Labour party is all for stealth privatisation-by-piecemeal, it strikes me as highly unlikely that the Tories will be any different. They are, after all, the people who gave you marketisation in public services in the first place, and pursued sell-off and "let the market decide" energetically for at least a decade before 1997.

It may currently suit Dave the Chameleon to make ringing statements about mantaining a "fully-publically-funded NHS", but I find it almost impossible to believe that the Private HealthCare Corporations don't have just as many close friends in the Tory Party as in Labour. I can just about buy that Cameron's lot might have a bit more respect for the professions than Patsy Hewitt & Co, and also that an incoming Govt of a different stripe might be less keen to pick a fight with GPs and Consultants, but I suggest anyone who thinks a change of power will stop all this is barking up the wrong tree.

Dr Ray said...

PhD scientist
Yes the Tories did introduce competition but it was competition within the NHS so that Hospitals had to compete against each other for the GP fundholders money. Money got wasted moving paper from one desk to another to be sure but we felt we were competing on a level playing field and that if Hospital A lost out Hospital B would gain. Now we see even more waste, we are lied to and abused and we all sense we will not be competing on a level playing field. Contracts with American and South African companies have been signed even were there was no identified need and money which should stay within the NHS is draining away to the benefit of overseas investors and overpaid executives. This is being done for reasons of political dogma. This is what I object to. Governments of all colours have a problem with healthcare and not just in this country but I think this is the only government that has tried to blame the medical profession for the problem while trying to take the credit for any successes. This government has chosen to pick a fight with the profession rather than work with it. The media seem to be jumping in on the "rubbish-the-doctors" side. Let us hope that the two least trusted professions get nowhere against the most trusted.

Anonymous said...

join the socialist party, all the main parties are working with international financial institutions seeking to privatise everything