NHS London shakeup: too little, too late?

At the moment, NHS London is grappling with a £5bn deficit which was racked up over the past decade or so, and is under pressure to make drastic changes to its healthcare provision. Since the coalition government took charge in 2010, austerity has been urged in order to reduce the massive deficits racked up by government departments including healthcare.

Just before the coalition took the reins, a review of healthcare in London was due to take place. Among its proposals included the closure of several A&E departments across the capital and, to try and offset that, the creation of so-called ‘super surgeries’, an idea put forward by former Labour Health Minister Lord Darzi.

Swept aside

Not long after being appointed Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley announced that he was to scrap the review in a move which was greeted with joy by campaigners against A&E closures, while those in the medical profession were less complimentary. Many believe the need for reforming NHS London is great, not least because of the difficulty of providing healthcare in a city of its size.

The strategic healthcare authority for London was scrapped recently, which leaves patients, nurses, doctors, surgeons and physicians fearing the worst for the future. Patients may fear something like medical malpractice, something which the First4Lawyers resource hub has plenty of relevant information on, while the current malaise could have wider implications for the city’s economy.

Missed opportunity

Having over seven million residents, London is by far the largest city in the UK, and needs a substantial healthcare network to meet the needs of the population. Although the closure of some A&E departments might not be the best thing to do, the creation of super surgeries could mean that many of the services on offer there could simply be moved from A&E.

In terms of job creation and importance to entire suburbs and districts, super surgeries could have been extremely valuable. The construction of each surgery would have meant more work for builders struggling for work so soon after the 2012 Olympics. After completion, each surgery may need to hire new staff, which for medical students and clerical workers would have been handy.

Air of resignation

A recent review was published earlier this year by [Imperial College London](https://workspace.imperial.ac.uk/global-health-innovation/Public/Healthcare for London_Reflections on leadership lessons and legacy.pdf), although it wasn’t as far-reaching as that which would have come before it. Former chief executive of NHS London Sir Richard Sykes left his post not long after Mr Lansley scrapped the initial review. Today, healthcare in the capital seems to be in a rut that it will find difficult to escape without significant change.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Gwyneth Thomas .

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