Wednesday, December 08, 2010

4 concerns about UK NHS from PatientView survey

Just this September, the UK-based “Health and Social Campaigners News International” re-branded itself as the PATIENT VIEW QUARTERLY.

According to Clive Nead, editor of PatientView Quarterly, the relaunch was prompted by “a demand for unique data and analysis of the activities and attitudes of patient (and other health-related) groups worldwide.”

Each Quarterly will contain original work by PatientView, plus an interview with a guest commentator (and, when appropriate, reviews of outside studies).

The September issue looked at the views of 887 UK patient groups, their important role within the NHS, their relationship with other healthcare stakeholders (including government and industry), and their views of the future of the NHS.

The vast majority of the survey’s respondent groups were more negative than positive about the NHS’s future chances under the Coalition.

Community-based patient groups are concerned about:
  1. Damage done by budget cutting across the NHS - The majority of the survey’s respondents commenting on the Coalition’s reform plans anticipate that the new government will embark on a round of NHS budget cutting in line with the current ethos of national austerity. Remarkably, respondents foresee that the NHS staff hit hardest, though, will not be managers, but front-line workers. A local stroke group from northeast England, for instance, believes that the Coalition will “cut the service budget, resulting in reductions in staff-patient ratios, and the demoralization of staff. Conservative administrations have always cut the numbers of frontline staff, while expecting the staff to deliver more for less. From personal experience, it is an equation that does not work, and a recipe for disaster.”
  2. ‘Disability bashing’ - HIV/AIDS groups are particularly apprehensive about the government’s plans. They suspect that the AIDS Support Grant, which subsidizes the living costs of people with
    HIV/AIDS, will be withdrawn.
  3. A decline in nationwide standards in the NHS - A number of groups anticipate cuts in centrally run monitoring services, thereby diminishing the extent to which comparisons of the quality and the delivery of NHS healthcare can be carried out across the country. A group in southern England representing the needs of local patients with neurological conditions argues that the Coalition’s reform proposals carry the hidden agenda of cutting the cost of quality monitoring, which would henceforth be run by a “few doctors with the time to ‘improve’
  4. A lack of government consultation with community health organizations - A regional mental health organization considers that the government might “say the right things about bottom-up approaches — great rhetoric — but effectively do what the Labour government did previously: safeguard top jobs, and provide a raw deal for the most vulnerable in our society—people from black and minority ethnic (BME) communities, and people with a disability (including mental ill health.
The groups responding to the survey believe they — and patients themselves — should have a greater say in what happens to the NHS, given that more than one in five of the survey’s respondent groups actively supply core practical or physical healthcare services to NHS patients (including the provision of nurses, doctors, and even hospitals). Membership of, and public support for, patient groups across the country is rising rapidly. Plus, patient groups responding to the survey emphasize that their campaigns at national and community level have had a significant influence on policymaking over the last ten years (and they quote examples).

Ironically, although over half of the survey’s respondent groups say that their views are regarded as unimportant by the current government, 83% declare that their organization is both recognized and respected by the medical profession (to whom groups feel closely aligned). 57% of the respondent groups mention the same about the media.

Because we at Stinson Brand Innovation are so involved with patient groups – especially in rare diseases – we found this survey to be meaningful and relevant.

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