Health service managers warned of an “Armageddon scenario” facing NHS finances as they draw up secret plans for swingeing hospital cuts.
Senior officials have set “aggressive” targets to reduce the number of patients referred to specialists, or treated in Accident and Emergency departments, while GPs will be asked to cut down on the amount of time spent in consultations.
The plans are being issued as senior managers warned that the NHS is about to face the greatest financial pressures since its inception.
They fear that when the current spending round ends in 2011, the impact of an anticipated real terms freeze or cuts – coming as the demands on the NHS of an ageing population increases – will be devastating.
Right now, my stepfather is terminally ill with lung cancer. I spent last week with him and Mum. This gave the opportunity for several conversations with NHS, Marie Curie and Macmillan nurses. They already know services are on the brink and that substantial, frankly unacceptable cuts in front line services are planned. For example, one of the home nursing services will be reduced to telephone support.
The money has run out. Too much money is being spent on management. Too much emphasis has been placed on degree qualification for nurses, a feature which experienced and very good nurses know would have excluded them.
Each of the nurses with whom I spoke wants to see NHS reform. In each case, I recommended Nurses for Reform.