Burnham: “Jeremy Hunt has just crossed a line and set a dangerous precedent”

31st January, 2013 1:38 pm

After it was announced that successful Lewisham Hospital is having its A&E downgraded by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, Andy Burnham said:

“There will be no cheers for this statement in Lewisham. This Tory-led Government has accepted the principle that a successful local hospital can have its services downgraded to pay for the failures of another trust. Jeremy Hunt has just crossed a line and set a dangerous precedent.
 
“In this Tory-led Government’s new market-driven NHS, closures can be purely cost-driven and any hospital is vulnerable to changes through back-door reconfiguration. This announcement will send a chill wind through any community worried about its hospital services.
 
“It is simply not tenable to downgrade an A&E department without first establishing a clear clinical case for how it can be done without compromising patient safety. But that is what David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt are doing here. They set up a financially-driven process and have thrown together a clinical justification.  
 
“David Cameron has caused unnecessary distress to the people of Lewisham. The campaigners have achieved something today, but they will continue the fight and they will have Labour’s support.” 

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  • charles.ward

    So, given that Labour have commited to spend less money on the NHS as a whole and sucessful hospitals should not be punished, where is the money going to come from to fix failing trusts?

    I thought moving money to failing hospitals was Labour’s policy (to improve sevices where they are poor and prevent a “postcode lottery”).

    If you don’t allow competition in the healthcare system and you won’t move money from sucessful hospitals to failing ones how are failing hospitals ever going to improve?

    • Whatever the commitment by the Party – and I presume this was aimed at the financial markets and/or Daily Mail vote rather than the populace at large – it becomes more obvious that more money is needed to fund acute and secondart care. I don’t think Labour or any party has a policy of “moving money to failing hospitals” – I *do* think they would have an operating procedure of addressing long term financial shortfalls in hospitals starved of investment. Do you honestly think that failing hospitals will ‘buck their ideas up’ and compete with the best hospitals. There are multiple reasons why hospitals fail, and it’s not solely management incompetence. In any case, there is no real effective ‘competition’ in the public sector healthcare market – left to their own devices, healthcare organisations would sink to the lowest common denominator and will only undertake profitable, low risk work, leaving the rest to other providers. We can see ample evidence at the Lister Hospital Surgicentre just how successful ‘competition; and private provision to the public sector has been. Multiple avoidable deaths, multiple cancellations of procedures, and the local PCT who won’t even refer their own patients there, so poor as the service is both in terms of quality and effectiveness. It’s utterly bizarre for patients in Stevenage to be treated 40-50 miles away, but people from other PCTs come to Stevenage. “Competition” has never had a more ridiculous effect.

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