Friday, December 13, 2013

Monitor & NHS: Plot! Plot! Plot!

Monitor 

The greatest threat to the NHS is perversely that of its regulator and in turn it is a threat to our democracy as the regulator is not elected and therefore not accountable to the electorate.

Why is the head called a Doctor when he is not a medical doctor? Why was he appointed from McKinsey? Do people ever leave McKinsey?

As the world realised that doctors and especially specialist doctors are worth loads and that the best money is Tax Payers money to be made, we are fast approaching the US way of making medicine money from the Government. The NHS at 65 will soon be fair game for all except the state hospitals. Private AQPs can bid for NHS services and make money and then they cannot be got rid of. When something goes wrong, the patient will be sent back to the remaining NHS hospital/s or the AQPs simply go bankrupt and start over again with the same DOCTORS but probably run by a sister or cousin. This happened with PIP scandal. The NHS pick up the bits, the private clinics changed names and carry on.


Health watchdog Monitor, many of whose senior staff are from consultants McKinsey and KPMG, has published proposals to close the NHS funding gap, accompanied by 349 slides purporting to demonstrate big savings opportunities across the whole NHS. It is on the same lines as McKinsey's controversial 2009 report, commissioned by the Department of Health, Achieving World Class Productivity in the NHS, which is equally full of unrealistic assumptions about how billions could be saved by doing things differently.

Wow!

Various parties pretend to have solutions to the problem. Jeremy Hunt intervenes to replace A&E departments in two London hospitals, and hopes to shut another in Lewisham, effectively closing three full-service hospitals. NHS England's medical director Sir Bruce Keogh proposes closing up to 70 A&E departments across England, with unforeseeable consequences. 

In addition, Monitor also proposes to set next year's NHS tariff – the list of prices for NHS treatments – at a level which it acknowledges is liable to push an additional 37% of hospitals into deficit if sufficient cuts aren't made, while maintaining in its impact assessment that the overall effect will have "positive impacts for patients".


                                                                                         
The forces that are there to make such money have lobbied most in the Lords.

Are we fighting a losing battle?

But the NHS will always be there as someone needs to pay and someone needs to take on the unprofitable patients. 

Check with your Private Health Insurer: do they cover, diabetes, dialysis, schizophrenia or even simple asthma?                                                                     NHS Hospitals: Still Needed?

Mad-Dog Monitor is a menace.  He is a menace to the Big Beast, who has no power over him. One wonders; does he even have his phone number?  Mad-Dog is a menace to the morale of the NHS.  Mad-Dog is a menace to public confidence in the NHS.  He is a menace to LaLa, who is desperately trying to look like he is listening and an absolute nightmare for Cameron who is desperately trying not to look like he is selling the NHS.

In fact I cannot think of anything kind, warm or sympathetic to say about David Mad-Dog Bennet.  I cannot think there is anything he can do, or has done, or will do that makes him worth £300k to the public purse. 

In Iceland:
I somehow stumbled upon “Inside Job”. 

The introduction was of Iceland. No, they did not cause the volcanic eruption and the film was not about that. It was about the financial disaster.

Iceland “de-regulated the banking system” believing that they too being one of the most stable, wealthy, healthy, educated and honest country in the world must be modernised.

As long as they have "good" regulators, everything would be fine.

When a regulator visits a bank, he would find 19 big SUVs parked outside and he would be confronted by 19 top lawyers arguing that whatever the banks were doing were legal. They generally won their argument.

On the rare occasion when they meet a tough regulator they would simply employ him or her in true John Grisham style.

The perverse effect of competition is already emerging. Bournemouth and Poole are smallish district general hospitals needing to merge to share services and stay solvent. But their overseer, Monitor, has the new duty to "prevent anti-competitive behaviour". Monitor say the hospitals should be competing for patients, so they referred the merger to the Office of Fair Trading – unknown in the NHS.

The cost is mounting: an FOI by Fiona Mactaggart MP found the hospitals have already spent £1.67m on legal advice from costly competition lawyers. Every element of NHS competition will require these lawyers, alongside the huge cost of tendering everything out or defending against legal challenges if they don't. Four other trusts wanting to merge are stuck in the Monitor competition machine, with more to follow – a bonanza for lawyers. PFIs emerged with contracts like Wonga loans, so why should all the myriad new NHS contracts be any better drawn?

One London teaching hospital in the forefront of integrating itself with local community care to treat more people at home, has just been told this too is "anti-competitive". Torbay, pioneer of integrating health and community care, is warned this is an anti-market "monopoly" that should be tendered out in bits.


No clothes!!! © Am Ang Zhang 2011
Can it be so simple that David Cameron is ignorant of the pitfalls of competition in matters that concern our health or perhaps more appropriately our ill-health? Can he not see it at all or was there a different plot?

Can we really think that McKinsey could make mistakes and put the wrong person in the wrong place? They invest in people and they are everywhere.

The greatest threat to the NHS is perversely that of its regulator and in turn it is a threat to our democracy as the regulator is not elected and therefore not accountable to the electorate.

“……Tom Clark our leader writer says the real problem with the bill is the fact that the new regulator has a duty to promote competition where appropriate. He points out that in a previous life as a special adviser the regulator used his powers to squeeze state bodies in order to open up the space for private providers. It's why he is so against competition.”

For my money, the most important line in the whole of the health and social care bill is found – if I have the chapter and verse citation system right – at clause 56 1(a). It lists the first duty of the regulator Monitor, which is being transformed from the Foundation Trust hospital's overlord into being the economic regulator of the whole healthcare market, as being "promoting competition where appropriate".

The "where appropriate" sounds reassuring, but we've been here before, not least with the privatisation of the utilities, which Andrew Lansley worked on as a young civil servant, a time in his career from which he continues to draw conscious inspiration. In the beginning the 1980s utilities regulators focused on tight price regulation (RPI - X as it was called back then) to stop the former state monopolists from ripping customers off, but in time the orthodoxy changed. Particularly in electricity, market minded regulators soon made it their business to cut their charges down to size. Regulated markets, they reckoned, were never as efficient as competitive ones, so they saw it as their primary duty to restrict the market share of the old players.

Royal Mail & PostComm
When Labour set the Royal Mail on a new commercial footing, around a decade ago, it set up a regulator, PostComm, which was also charged with promoting competition to the extent it was desirable, and as a special adviser at the Department for Trade and Industry in 2005-06 I saw the miserable consequences up close. Instead of straightforwardly capping stamp prices, as one might expect, the regulator warned Royal Mail not to cut prices in those markets too aggressively in those markets (notably bulk market mail) where it faced stiff competition from new commercial entrants. The aim was to lever these new players into the market until they achieved a truly significant slice of the pie, and the Mail's hands were tied to ensure that this happened. Only then, the regulator reasoned, would competition become real, and so only then would the magic of the market work.

Well, perhaps there have been benefits for bulk mail customers, I am in no position to judge, but I don't think many would claim that there have been many benefits for the Royal Mail itself. It has limped from one crisis to the next, and then on to bailout and now finally towards privatisation.

Pro-competition mania at Monitor
There have been troubling noises, including at one point from Vince Cable, about how the universal one-price tariff can be protected. But these problems are of nothing compared to what would happen to our hospitals if the pro-competition mania got entrenched at Monitor.

Unelected Regulators
The unelected regulators, who regard themselves as beyond the reach of elected politicians, might turn out to be sensible people. But if they turned out to be the type to dance with dogma, then they could end up making it their mission to give new private players some particular percentage of the new healthcare market, which would of course mean denying the same volume of work to NHS hospitals. And that would have the unavoidable corollary of forcing a good number of them to the wall. NHS training arrangements, the integration of care and a decent geographical spread of provision could all go to the wall with them in tandem. No doubt there are safeguards, but wouldn't it be better to recast the bill, so that the regulators were charged merely with "overseeing" competition where it exists, as opposed to actively promoting it? After all, as any medic can tell you, prevention is better than cure.

Competition & Cartels
Let us see what competition led to in the Airline industry: Cartels, cartels and more cartels!!!


According to federal prosecutors, when the airline industry took a nose dive a decade ago industry executives tried to fix it, with a massive price-fixing scheme among airlines the world over, that artificially inflated passenger and cargo fuel surcharges to help companies make up for lost profits. Convicted airlines include British Airways, Korean Air, and Air France-KLM.

The Lufthansa and Virgin Atlantic mea culpas allowed them to take advantage of a Justice Department leniency program because they helped crack the conspiracies.


The European Commission has fined 11 airlines almost 800m euros (£690m) for fixing the price of air cargo between 1999 and 2006.

British Airways was fined 104m euros, Air France-KLM 340m euros and Cargolux Airlines 79.9m euros.
The fines follow lengthy investigations by regulators in Europe, the US and Asia, dating back to 2006.
The EU said that the airlines "co-ordinated their action on surcharges for fuel and security without discounts", between early 1999 and 2006.
Singapore Airlines 74.8m
SAS   70.2m
Cathay Pacific       57.1m

These are some of the most respected names in the industry!!!

Monitor: Recent exchanges in ParliamentPublic Bill Committee
There is much talk about Private Health provider may have to be subsidised for their disadvantage over pension.

Q 199 Mr Kevin Barron (Rother Valley) (Lab):  A question for Mr Bennett. The impact assessment for the Bill refers to “fair playing field distortions” and says: 

“The majority of the quantifiable distortions work in favour of NHS organisations; tax, capital and pensions distortions result in a private sector acute provider facing costs about £14 higher for every £100 of cost relative to an NHS acute provider.” 

My understanding is that you would be responsible for addressing that system. What is your view of those fair playing field distortions? 

David Bennett: In due course, I think one of the things that the economic regulator will need to look at is the issue of the level playing field. The analysis that you are quoting, of course, was done by the Department of Health, not Monitor. 

I think I can say that when the appropriate time comes for the economic regulator to look at those issues, we will need to look very carefully at that analysis. There are level playing field issues on both sides. There are additional costs incurred by the public sector, as well as advantages, the obvious ones being— 
Q 200 Mr Barron:  This says that it is the other way around, actually. The public sector costs are higher than private. Do you agree with that? 
David Bennett: What I am saying is that we would seek to do a more extensive piece of research before reaching conclusions. 
Q 201 Mr Barron:  If this is the case, what are the implications for public sector workers? 
David Bennett: If those numbers are correct? 
Q 202 Mr Barron:  My first point is that our starting point must be to do the analysis more extensively, looking at a broader set of issues. I cannot say that those figures are the ones that we would come up with. 
Sonia Brown: I think we can identify areas where we can see that the Department’s analysis has not gone to the point of being able to quantify the numbers. A really good example of that is that the NHS tends to treat much more complex cases. At the moment, the NHS is rewarded at the same rate for doing that as the private sector is for treating less complex cases. 



David Bennett is the current head of Monitor (a sort of health FSA!) He is NOT a medical doctor.

May 03, 2011
Oooops, did I say monitor? Yes, Monitor may be re-launched as a QinetiQ styled company as there is so much money to be made from fining NHS Foundation Trusts. Dr David Bennett is not a medical doctor. ...

NHS & The Mayo Model: What if!

“The best interest of the patient is the only interest to be considered.” 


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