THE OBFUSCATION by NHS England over the latest raft of health cuts in North Yorkshire must be challenged – the public interest demands nothing less.
Not only does the Leeds-based quango refuse to say when details will be made public but it says managers are working “to plan how best to deliver services to patients within their fair share of the NHS budget”. Just how disingenuous can you get?
This, for the record, is an area where day-to-day health services have been compromised by historic debts because successive governments have failed to acknowledge the true cost of providing care in rural and coastal communities.
This is an area which has already taken difficult decisions in an attempt to balance the books – obese patients and smokers have been banned from undergoing routine surgery. Now it’s being asked to find another £14m, the most bitter of pills.
And this is an area where elderly patients are already suffering additional anxiety as they’re forced to travel long distances for those routine services that are no longer available in their local community.
Rather than hiding behind bland platitudes that lack empathy, someone – whether it be Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt or one of the highly-paid NHS England managers – needs to spend time with health practitioners, and patients, in North Yorkshire and see the difficulties for themselves.
They need to front up, and work with the local community to deliver practical and pragmatic efficiencies, rather than expecting patients to accept a second class service that has the potential to compromise safety because of the mismanagement of all those executives – past and present – who have not fought for a fairer deal for rural areas. For, unless this happens, it is – in all probability – going to take a preventable tragedy for health executives to be brought to their senses.