Outgoing NHS chief guilty of “moronic excuses”, say UKIP

Nicholson should go now

Sir David Nicholson has long since lost credibility in the debate on how best to deliver healthcare in the UK. We continue our call that he resign as soon as possible.

The idea that the crisis in A&E can somehow be blamed on the Francis report and bad weather is just more of the same moronic “leaves on the line” excuses to try and explain away every mishap first and react only when the public explicitly demand it.

The purchaser-provider split has been with us for over 20 years and rather than allow decision making to be decentralised and accountable it has embraced the worst excesses of corporatism with the market set by government for often political, not clinical ends.

UKIP has long called for less political involvement in healthcare decisions but remains sceptical of proposals set out by the man who led an appalling deterioration in quality of care that led to the Mid Staffordshire scandal.

UKIP’s proposed county health boards, composed of elected professionals, would allow accountability to patients, the local community and the market to ensure we receive the best care at an affordable price; the opposite of the current setup.

It is not enough to say that the out of hours service needs “looking at”. This contract, signed back in 2004, is just one of many examples of how politicians without any clinical or business experience negotiated a very poor deal for the taxpaying public. UKIP doubts it will be the last.

Stephanie McWilliams, UKIP health spokeswoman

The backbone of hospice care

Your recent article about the benefits of volunteering for the NHS makes for familiar reading for those of us in the hospice sector.

Hospices - with their strong links to local communities - have a long track record of working effectively with volunteers.

From trustees to people serving tea, more than 100,000 volunteers form the backbone of hospice care, providing high quality support and the “human touch” that lies at its heart.

A report by Help the Hospices’ commission into the future of hospice care highlights the need to explore new approaches to volunteering. For example, enabling volunteers to play a greater role in the direct delivery of care and maximising their role in shaping hospice strategy.

Increasingly, hospice volunteers are being deployed to offer care and support to patients, families and carers. However, concerns about related regulatory compliance limit innovation and widespread adoption of this important development. Yet it could serve as part of the solution for hospices dealing with anticipated increases in the numbers and complexities of people dying in the future.

Help the Hospices will be taking a lead in promoting the role of volunteering in end of life care. We hope to unlock the full potential of volunteers, so they can help hospices to continue their valuable work and also meet new challenges.

Heather Richardson, national clinic lead, Help the Hospices

Setting the record straight on outsourcing

We were delighted to read the articles in the HSJ efficiency supplement last week highlighting pathology as an area for collaboration between trusts or with the private sector.

‘Successful specialist pathology companies attract high caliber expertise’

However, we take issue with the comments that the disadvantages of working with the private sector are that they will take profits and access to senior staff will be reduced.

We would like to point out that leading European specialist pathology companies operate in competitive pathology markets delivering high-quality service where pathology tariff is less than 50 per cent of NHS reference costs.

They bring expertise and buying power which will reduce costs and any sensibly structured deal will only generate profits for the trust if there are savings which wouldn’t otherwise be generated for the NHS. Many deals also involve a joint venture and profit sharing.

Successful specialist pathology companies attract high calibre expertise − the 260 medically qualified staff working for Synlab are involved in over 50 PubMed peer reviewed papers per year and prefer to be working in a group with peer pathologists rather than professionally isolated in a district general hospital.

Hugh Risebrow, managing director at Synlab