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Lansley condemns commissioners as 'cynical' over choice restrictions

Health secretary Andrew Lansley today said primary care trusts “game the system” to “delay treatment”, in response to the Co-operation and Competition Panel’s investigation of choice in elective care.

The advisory panel, which assessed complaints from independent sector providers, found PCTs were saving money by “excessively constraining patients’ ability to choose”.

Mr Lansley condemned measures, including the setting of minimum waiting times, which many PCTs say is justified as they attempt to balance their books.

In a statement Mr Lansley said: “Too many PCTs have been operating in a cynical environment where they can game the system – and in which political targets, particularly the maximum 18 week waiting time target, are used to actually delay treatment.

“When GPs, specialist doctors and nurses are making the decisions, as they will under our [Health Bill] plans, they will plan care on the basis of the clinical needs of patients and their right to access the best service, including the least possible waiting time.”

However, PCT Network director David Stout said the panel’s claims that PCTs were extending waiting times in the hope that patients opt to go private or potentially die while waiting would “cause unnecessary public anxiety and alarm”.

“As financial constraints loom over the NHS, commissioners are finding they have to make difficult decisions about priorities while seeking to maintain high quality services,” he said.

“But where these decisions are being made it is essential PCTs and doctors are clear with their patients and local communities from the outset about what services are and are 
not available to them, and how long they can expect to wait for treatment

Readers' comments (15)

  • Chairman condemns Secretary of State as cynical over delays to Chase Farm decision!!

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  • I don't think PCT managers seriously want people to die through the delays or even go private. They are using this as a short-term cash saving measure to hit annual targets. What it means though is that the next year you have to deal with the backlog as waiting time performance will go South and over capacity will need to be created at premium rates with huge management resource, largely in providers,trying to manage the patients on the list.

    If only management effort could go into delivering QIPP and not reconfiguring or dealing with this kind of problem we might actually get somewhere!

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  • I agree, this is a natural reaction - and a short term cash saving measure. With no targets or penalties, why not save money today (and worry about tomorrow later....)

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  • Andrew Lansley says that when GP's, Dr's and Nurses are making the decisions they will do so based on clinical need. That is what we have been doing in PCT's but also trying to ensure that costs do not spiral out of control. It is right that services should be commissioned based on clinical need but at the same time you also need to ensure that you take into account the cost and wether you have the funding.

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  • It's nonsense that GPs will act differently when they're "in charge" of commissioning. The commissioning intentions for the hospital where I work have been signed off by the lead GPs for the area .... and include extending waiting times to make a non-recurrent saving. Yet again, Andrew Lansley demonstrates his lack of understanding of the reality of front-line NHS services.

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  • The Lansley mantra 'White coats good, grey suits bad, white coats good, grey suits bad....'

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  • The ultimate hypocrisy. Blame the troops for trying to manage an impossible situation created by politicians. It's like being in a new movie entitled Oh What A Lovely NHS! Talk about lions led by donkeys ...

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  • ANON 3:52 That really is an insult to donkeys who are nice creatures and work productively! More like lions led by low life, snivelling, spineless, brainless worms

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  • I am a nurse and a commissioner and find this Lansley propaganda increasingly frustrating. Perhaps Mr Lansley would like to come to a performance meeting where he can discuss the cost of consultant to consultant referrals, inconvenient and repeated outpatient attendances by patients for investigations on consecutive days which is more lucrative to a hospital than a one stop clinic etc etc.

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  • Lansley can only be devious or stupid not to have foreseen that this would happen. The trouble is that neither he nor NHS managers know any other way to get themselves out of the financial strictures he has imposed on the system. The difference is that he is following his Friedman disaster capitalism instincts and is trying to create the crisis that will lead to privatisation of the NHS. So that makes him thoroughly dishonest and underhanded (we should have realised that when he immediately went back on his promise not to disrupt the NHS prior to being elected, as soon as he was in government). It is becoming harder by the day not to see him and his mates for what they really are - and that is certainly not guardians of our NHS.

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  • His policy of continuing to comment on aspects of the NHS as if he is a innocent bystander is at least consistent - you would think he remained the shadow SofS not the real thing (if only: think of the level of damage if he had been limited to talking).

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  • Lansley and his sidekicks have no idea what happens in the world of PCT policy making. He may praise the actions of doctors and nurses but where I come from wherever there is a PCT commissioning policy to approve, particularly around clinical issues it is PEC aka the emerging clinical commissioning groups aka the GPs who approve the policies. I suspect this is the same right across the country.

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  • “When GPs, specialist doctors and nurses are making the decisions, as they will under our plans, they will plan care on the basis of the clinical needs of patients and their right to access the best service, including the least possible waiting time.”

    How naive....just who advises this man?

    Please don't imagine Mr Lansley that GP's etc will not face the same pressures currently frustrating the work of commissioners, who in the main are doing a good job in difficult circumstances (which you and your cronies make harder each and every day) Assuming the BMA ever go along with your Health Bill, the ability to deliver everything Joe and Josephine Public hold dear at the same time as saving £20b over 4 years will prove impossible.

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  • was going to offer a comment on this latest piece of moronic mediocrity from La La, but quite frankly he isn't worth the effort any more. Can we have a real SoS now instead please ?

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  • He is clearly away with the fairies. If the NHS needs liberating from anything, its him and his half baked notions.

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