Health or profit?

We are consulted widely on health issues and what we want, but as with City Hospital the whole charade appears to be costly and a sham. Patients used to using City Hospital on Dudley Road now find that they may be transferred to Sandwell Hospital, part of the same trust. Part of the promise of moving the hospital further away was that there would be local facilities that would reduce the need to use such facilities as A & E.
So the Heart of Birmingham teaching Primary Care Trust started taking information so they could start to provide some 24 polyclinics across their territory, an area where multiple deprivation means there is significant need. Heart, diabetes, mental health all figure here.
Lord Darzi was charged with writing a report which came up with the findings that access to GPs was uneven and that the deficit was precisely in those areas showing deprivation resulting in poverty, poor health and a low life expectancy. Curiously most of the meetings to find out what people want have been conducted in the wealthier part of the Handsworth Wood Ward with a chartered accountant leading the presentations! It is the part of the ward already better supplied with GP practices, one of which is virtually a polyclinic with 11 doctors and an array of back up staff.
The PCT was previously awash with cash, but the recession has brought about a sharp u-turn so the prospect of 24 new facilities has gone. The arguments are purely in terms of cash with the health needs of those identified by Darzi receding by the minute. That is if they were ever up for consideration by the new elite now running health and other essential services. Commissioners have sprung up everywhere but you try approaching them as one of the “great unwashed” members of the community. Again government rhetoric stressed to this group the need to work with the community to improve health. The commissioners will only go to the big tried and (un)tested monopolies. Although report after report has talked of vast inequalities in health and advanced the “Delivering Race Equality” Agenda this has made little impact on the new army of highly paid gatekeepers set loose to make sure money doesn’t go to where it is most urgently needed.

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