The NHS was built on a founding the principle of providing universal healthcare to all throughouyt the UK. Now with the Health & Care Bill, that 'key brick' that the NHS is bullt upon, will be abolished!
Along with it will end the principle of national pay rates and terms and conditions for NHS clinical staff.
The spectre of hospital doctors, nurses and surgeons being moved on a daily basis from one hospital to another, along with nursing and clinical assigned nursing moving from one functionality to another, and from hospital to hospital as previously predicted by organisations opposed to the Health & Care Bill and reported by Unionsafety; is about to come to fruition following media reports that Artificial Intelligence will be used to forecast staffing level needs so that management can continue with minimum staffing levels by moving the workforce around based on such forecasts!
The Times reports:
'Hospitals will be able to predict daily A&E admissions weeks in advance using artificial intelligence software that analyses data including 111 calls and the weather.
It is being introduced in 100 NHS hospital trusts today after trials showed it had an “impressive” ability to forecast daily admissions, broken down by age, up to three weeks in advance.'
But the claim made by The Times headline that this will cut waiting lists is purely a claim, and without a clear upgrade of the workforce numbers; AI cannnot possibly make such a claim come true. What will help future waiting lists will be the coninuous listing of procedures and an increase to the 31 already identified as now not being availabe via the NHS; meaning that these treatemens will have to be paid for privately.
Previously, Unionsafety has reported on the Government's policy of using 'Life Sciences' in order to aid the transfer of responsibility for the health of individuals from the health service to people themselves and as Sajid Javid put it at the last Tory Party Conference; 'make the visit to the GP and Hospitals a last resort for patients'!
This is also a key element of the NHS 5 Year Plan' and will enable greater savings to the 42 new Integrated Care Systems (ICS) that will replace the national service of healthcare with localised and autonomous health care provision, which also includes localised pay and terms and conditions as determined by the ICS Boards controlling all elements of the delivery of care.
The use of a 'flexible' workforce and ability to adjust the level of clinical staff numbers in different parts of an ICS geographic area means being able to move staff on a daily basis from one clinical area, wards and clinics, and even from one hospital to another! This of course will reduce the ability to provide patients with continuity of levels of care as each doctor may have differing methods in treatment and even in diagnosis, risking the health of the patient.
Covid has shown the risks of this as hospitals assigned patients with differing conditions to wards that may not match the specialisms of wards and their assigned doctors. e.g. patients with respiratory illness being assigned to a diabetes ward covered by a diabetes specialist and resulting in cessation of medication regime specific to their individual multi-health conditions, thereby causing deterioration in their overall health. In some cases this could be life-threatening. For example abruptly stopping administering steroids used to tackle a blood disorder following incomplete knowledge of the patients existing condition and treatments.
Patients already complain when having to see different doctors in out-patient clinics and at GP surgeries, thereby damaging the doctor/patient relationship. The days of having a consistency in understanding of and treatment of their health needs will truly vanish as both patients and clinical staff are treated as units of care and of staff!
No matter how good artificial intelligence might be in forecasting patient numbers and illnesses, it will never be able to provide the key human element of healthcare necessary to ensure consistency of healthcare across the country and in all of the 42 autonomous ICS which will use such tools to forecast the type of treatments they should provide on the NHS and determine the most profitable services, and the ones they can discontinue because the AI judges certain procedures and treatments as being able to be discontinued due to small numbers of patients needing them!
This is certainly the case in the American system that our NHS is now being transformed into.
However, what is not being widely reported in the media is the fact that the NHS has been asked to save a further £500 million as a rerun of further cuts to the funding of the NHS!
The Health Service Journal reports:
NHSE chief financial officer Julian Kelly told a meeting of NHS England’s board: “We have been asked to see if we can cut core NHS funding – at the moment that is probably to the tune of £500m.”
Mr Kelly said achieving this would likely involve “slowing down” some transformation programmes and ambitions from the NHS long-term plan, including “how fast we go on the change in technology, on some of the innovation stuff we have spoken about… and the prevention programme”.
The request from the Department of Health and Social Care was “as a consequence of needing to find funding to deal with the government’s Living with Covid plans and the cost of the public health policy around Test and Trace”, Mr Kelly said.
He added that rising inflation could add an extra £1bn in financial pressure, telling the board “we’re going to have to look at what that means for our ability to deliver NHS goals in the round.”
Once again, the failed test and trace system which has cost billions to date, looks like costing even more as the Government continues supporting private companies irrespective of their value for money or ability to deliver what they claim!
In the meantime, the Health & Care Bill which will abolish the universal healthcare principle along with the NHS; will be debated further in the House of Lords on 5th April.
Source: The Times / HSJ / NHS England
See Also: NHS Privatisation News Archive