As if wasn't enough to just be ill - the National Health Service is going through a major transformation and the funny thing is no one knows about it and no one (by which I mean us) has any say in what happens.
Since December 2015, the NHS has been drawing up a "multi-year Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP)", which sounds just fine.
That involves creating 44 STP 'Footprints' which also sounds just fine.
However, it isn't fine and the clue is that we aren't allowed to know what the STP's involve, there has been no consultation and no democratic debate about the development of the plans and the NHS has been refusing to disclose information under the Freedom of Information Act, to which we ought to have access.
While there's nothing wrong in having a plan (heaven knows the NHS could do with one) the problem is that everyone knows that healthcare is currently not sustainable without a further injection of money or a reduction in services.
The problem is that as healthcare is bundled into bigger and bigger areas, they will cut services and centralise them with no thought about transport links or costs. So it becomes sustainability for the organisation and not for the patients or staff.
As the tory government has made it clear there is no more money available it means cuts are being prepared.
Effectively, the NHS has re-divided the map so that each STP area now includes a number of Clinical commissioning Groups; those are the doctors bodies that commission healthcare from hospitals. The CCG's were set up so that clinicians were, in theory, in charge of commissioning healthcare. The NHS Hospital Trusts were set up to be independent bodies which would become efficient suppliers of healthcare.
Grouping CCG's together at the same time as not increasing the money needed for an aging and increasingly ill population means cuts.
And as the majority of NHS Hospital trusts are now operating with financial deficits this means cuts in services.
Independent estimates are that all hospitals are likely to be cutting beds under the STP's and a third will be closing their Accident and Emergency departments.
Anyone who has attended and A and E recently will know that the service is already at breaking point, the statutory requirement of admission or discharge within 4 hours is now regularly broken even by good hospitals and the queues are incredible.
This week it was announced that (again in breach of statutory guidelines) hospitals are operating with 98% of beds occupied. Full beds mean A and E patients waiting on trolleys and routine operations being cancelled. How can more beds and wards be closed?
As I said earlier, neither patients, local authorities, parliament or the press actually know what is being planned. The only clue is in the new 'footprints which give a clue as to which Accident and Emergency departments will close.
You can try and work out how it applies in your 'STP' here by downloading the "map of STP footprints in England'.
(a don't stop till you drop production)
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