A Huddersfield health expert has said he fears cost cutting plans to shake-up hospitals and the wider health system will destroy the founding principles of the NHS.

The Examiner has reported how changes to care in Huddersfield and Calderdale are planned amid Government demands to save millions.

Last week it was revealed that the hospitals must save £20m this year and a further £19m in 2015/16.

Hospital chiefs have admitted they need to slash jobs, cut pay and sell buildings to meet their reduced budgets after their plan was leaked to the Examiner by an NHS whistleblower.

The amount of money handed to GPs and community centres is also not increasing as fast as health chiefs say they need it to.

Professor Peter Bradshaw, a health policy expert from Huddersfield University and former health advisor to the Thatcher government, said moves to make clinicians more efficient were likely to affect two of the NHS’s basic tenets.

He said: “Any sign that you’re changing what we’ve had since 1948 is bound to arouse concern.

“The NHS operates on three fundamental principles; equity – fair treatment for all at their point of need, efficiency – doing things that are tried and tested to produce the best clinical outcomes and effectiveness – getting value for money.

“Regrettably, neglect of the first two of these points is being overridden by the latter and a Government that thinks financially weaker organisations should go to the wall.

“Its concern for effective, safe, co-ordinated and patient-centred care is therefore surely dubious.”

Prof Peter Bradshaw, University of Huddersfield
Prof Peter Bradshaw, University of Huddersfield
 

Prof Bradshaw said the move to outsource more services to private or independent providers would be difficult to undo if a new Government was elected next May.

He said: “(Shadow Health Secretary) Andy Burnham has said they will unravel a lot of things but historically we’ve seen that the changes will be too ingrained and too difficult to dismantle.

“They’re not just going to disband companies like Locala and say, ‘You’re NHS again’.

“Things that have happened aren’t reversible.”

MP Barry Sheerman told The Examiner he was “shocked and disappointed” at the plans and Prof Bradshaw said it was an unfortunate position for local politicians to be in less than a year from a General Election.

He added: “For serving MPs to enter the electoral fray with their local hospital sacking staff, closing beds and axing services seems an unthinkable proposition – but that is where we are at with the Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust.

“It has historically had an enviable reputation for its quality of care and being financially prudent.

“Yet, along with another 30 NHS organisations confronting financial uncertainty, some nearing bankruptcy, the local Trust has seemingly initiated a plan to ward off its own total financial collapse.

“All of this is commensurate with the Government’s policy”.

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