I got talking with a group of 7 Kashmiri guys, hanging out at a local garage; taxi drivers waiting for cars to be washed and tyres replaced.
Animated about the Brexit vote, you wouldn’t have heard stronger views on immigration at a UKIP Christmas Party. They estimated at least 60% of the Kashmiri community voted Brexit.
Their big concern was the impact of immigration on the NHS, and what they see as its constant deterioration. Dirty and overcrowded hospital, unresponsive and slovenly staff, long waits to see a GP.
It was interesting, because despite failures in A&E, a mediocre ambulance service, a hospital lurching from financial crisis to crisis and confused GP appointment systems, most us instinctively tend to praise the NHS. Here was a different take.
Come forward a month, and we get the 5-year forward plan for NHS/Healthcare in South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw. Fancifully called the Sustainable Transformation Plan, its contents like the title seem designed to confuse and obscure the truth through big words and political spin.
For example, the NHS nowadays doesn’t spend on services, instead they invest. As in, “yesterday I invested in a sliced loaf and a litre of milk”. Silly.
So to help you understand it….
Over the next 5 years South Yorkshire & Bassetlaw healthcare services, including those from Councils, are predicted to overspend by about £550m.
This they say cannot be allowed, yet many weasel words are used to avoid the term “cuts.”
Hospital services WILL be cut; however we are told care will not get worse and we’ll all get healthier.
Through community services we will be encouraged to quit smoking, cut out the booze and drugs, have fewer unplanned pregnancies. Elderly people will be less isolated & happier. So heaven is just around the corner as magically we all become healthier (or die.)
Also, much treatment/care will be transferred from hospitals to local GP and community healthcare services. Where it will be kinder, more focused and better (and presumably more cheerful.)
Of the many faults in this plan two stand out:
- The Councils’ 2017/18 budget shows them cutting almost £5.5m from budgets for those same enhanced community health services supposedly taking up the slack of hospital cuts e.g. care for the elderly, Public Health, Mental Health, Learning Disabilities and Counselling for victims of CSE etc.
- Recent research by the Doctors professional body shows that 25 % of GP are planning to retire over the next few years, while almost 30% are planning to go part time. These levels of GP losses are unprecedented, yet while alluded to by the STP they proffer no solutions and note no irony when they say GP surgeries and community services will compensate for reductions in hospital care.
Those Kashmiri guys will have even more to worry about, as will we all.