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HAPPY 2012! Love and best wishes from Judy Viitanen and PRimage

Saturday, December 31st, 2011

☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•☆☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆

In 2012….I hope the kindness you’ve given to others returns many times to you.
May you have the hindsight to know where you’ve been,
The foresight to know where you’re going,
And the insight to know when you’re going too far.
May hope, love, and warmth be in your heart’s possessing,
And may the New Year bring you and yours many blessings.
Happy New Year!

Judy Viitanen

Health Bill – PRimage comment

Thursday, July 21st, 2011

PRimage has heard that on the day that the British Medical Association votes to launch a public campaign which calls for the withdrawal of the Government’s controversial Health Bill, a survey of 500 GPs shows 85% said they had not been reassured by the government’s response to the listening exercise, with a further 62% saying their support for the reforms has not been altered by the changes to the Health Bill.

We were interested to see that many of the GPs concerns centered on the areas that as a healthcare lobbyist, Judy Viitanen believes are the very real and inherent issues around the Bill – such as increased bureaucracy in the NHS, the impact on patient care and the cost of the re-organisation.  What are your views?  We’d love to hear them.

Pharmacy’s place in the new NHS

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

For anyone involved in the UK community pharmacy and pharma industry sectors, Judy Viitanen recommends checking out the useful and directional guide on the NHS reforms by the trade journal, C&D.  PRimage found it very helpful in understanding the bodies that will influence community pharmacy in the new NHS.  You can find the guide on the C&D website.

www.chemistanddruggist.co.uk

Health Bill passes first stage in Parliament – PRimage comment

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

As a specialist healthcare communications consultant, PRimage MD Judy Viitanen, has been following the progress and debate on the Government’s comprehensive reforms of the NHS. The Health and Social Care Bill is a complex and far reaching piece of legislation, reflecting the wide ranging nature of the Government’s programme of reform for the NHS in England.


PRimage is largely supportive of the potentially positive elements of the reforms – we believe giving clinicians greater responsibility for commissioning and shaping local health services, increasing public and patient involvement, and putting a greater focus on improving public health are to be applauded. And it must not be forgotten that the NHS needs to find efficiency savings of £20 billion by 2014-15!  In our view it is important that the Government ensures that the new GP consortia are not forced to promote competition between providers – and instead are able to work collaboratively across primary and secondary care boundaries in order to improve services for patients.

As a former District Councillor, Judy Viitanen welcomes the Government’s aim of increasing local democracy in health and that it recognises the importance of health services and local authorities working more closely together for the benefit of patients and the public. That can only be a win:win scenario.

In recent weeks there has been mounting criticism of the reforms from health professionals. For example, the BMA has warned that patients will become ‘internal medical tourists’, with the wealthy shopping round for consortia that offer expensive or rare treatments.

Despite a raft of warnings and concerns, the government’s controversial Health Bill has passed the first stage of its journey through Parliament – with MPs voting 321 to 235 in favour at its second reading. PRimage was interested to see that no coalition MPs voted against the Bill.

The influential cross-party Health Select Committee has already voiced concern and warnings, saying that the ‘surprise’ decision to abolish PCTs had already led to poor decision-making and additional costs in the NHS. But yesterday the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley dismissed their concerns.  And last month David Cameron revealed that GP frustration with the NHS, the profession’s desire to do more and be more involved is the core motivation behind the Health Bill.

If that is the case, PRimage MD, Judy Viitanen, wonders why Doctor’s union, the BMA is stepping up its opposition to the reforms, and has voted for a special representatives’ crisis meeting to discuss the Health Bill.

NHS Bill: Sound bites round-up

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

PRimage has been busy assessing reactions from various healthcare bodies to the NHS Bill, announced this afternoon … Lansley has had to contend with a huge amount of criticism of his NHS reforms, much of it dramatically expressed, by many of they key organisations representing doctors and other NHS organisations. Public supporters have been hard to find amongst the host of warnings and reservations! Judy Viitanen especially enjoyed the Titanic analogy used by Unison, who said that the Health Bill is a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’ and which threatens to sink our NHS”

Here’s a listing of top line sound bites …
RCGP
‘makes sense’ for health professionals to be involved in the planning of services, but the proposals risk ‘destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’

‘we must guard against fragmentation and unnecessary duplication within a health service that is run by a wide array of competing public, private and voluntary sector providers, that delivers less choice and fewer services, reduces integration between primary and secondary care and increases bureaucratic costs’.

Patient choices as outlined in the Bill ‘run a risk of destabilising the NHS and causing long-term harm to patient outcomes’. The RCGP has also yet to receive sufficient evidence to be reassured the plans would prevent this from happening.

BMA
The BMA said ploughing ahead with the reforms at the speed proposed was a ‘massive gamble’.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: ‘The BMA supports greater involvement of clinicians in planning and shaping NHS services, but the benefits that clinician-led commissioning can bring are threatened by other parts of the Bill.’

‘Forcing commissioners of care to tender contracts to any willing provider, including NHS providers, voluntary sector organisations and commercial companies, could destabilise local health economies and fragment care for patients.

‘Adding price competition into the mix could also allow large commercial companies to enter the NHS market and chase the most profitable contracts, using their size to undercut on price, which could ultimately damage local services.’

Royal College of Physicians
Supports the shift towards putting clinicians and patients in the driving seat but is concerned the Bill doesn’t require specialists to be at the heart of commissioning.
‘The scale and pace of change – and the challenge of unprecedented efficiency savings – should not be underestimated. Neither should the risks if we get this wrong.’

Unison
The public sector union, called the Health Bill a ‘disaster’ of Titanic proportions’. Karen Jennings, head of health at Unison, said: ‘This Titanic health bill threatens to sink our NHS. The only survivors will be the private health companies that are circling like sharks, waiting to move in and make a killing.

‘Lansley has turned his back on the warnings from across the medical establishment that these changes are unnecessary, undemocratic and unlikely to deliver improvements in patient care. We need a U-turn from the Government.’

Unite
Bill is ‘a charter for private profit at the expense of patients care’.
‘It is clear that one of the biggest influences on Tory ideology regarding health policy has been the massive and insidious lobbying by the  private healthcare companies, which have opened their cheque books for David Cameron big-time.’
‘The GP consortia, the supposed vanguard of this so-called reform programme, will be juggling financial decisions with the help of the private healthcare companies they will buy-in, versus the needs of their patients – this is a stark conflict of interest. Patients should always come first.’

The Nuffield Trust
Reforms are ‘broadly in the right direction’ but they will have to be judged on the extent to which they deliver – with minimum disruption – sustained improvements to patient care during a period of major financial challenge for the NHS.

‘The NHS is at a fork in the road. It embarks on this period of reform with much strength but the pressures it faces over the next four years will continue to rise. ‘Given the reforms over the past 20 years the Government’s decision to devolve more responsibility to the front line is logical. However, this approach carries significant risks in today’s financial climate and needs to be managed very carefully.’

General Healthcare Group
The UK’s largest private hospital group, welcomed the proposed reforms and said it was ‘only right’ the NHS, private and third sector providers worked together in austere times.
‘In our view, the challenge for instituting these reforms will be about maintaining the pace of change and how instability during the period of transition is minimised.’

The King’s Fund
The Bill signals the biggest shake-up of the NHS since its inception
‘But, while the government’s reforms have the potential to improve the NHS, they will be implemented against the backdrop of the biggest financial challenge in its history. ‘Finding the £20bn in efficiency savings needed to maintain services must be the overriding priority, so the very real risk that the speed and scale of the reforms could destabilise the NHS and undermine care must be actively managed.’

NHS Confederation
Urged MPs to ‘forensically analyse’ the Health Bill.

‘We support the objectives behind this legislation but there are huge risks and major uncertainties associated with it. ‘The system is already geared up for change and we can not afford for these reforms to fail – the public will not forgive us. The focus in parliament has to be on making this work on behalf of patients.’

CBI
‘We support the Government’s plans to modernise the NHS, because this will lead to better services for patients, and ensure taxpayers’ money is spent wisely. ‘Allowing the best provider to deliver healthcare services, whether they are a private company or a charity, will spur innovation and choice. But bidders must be able to compete for contracts on a level playing field.’

Can GP-consortia learn from US experience?

Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

The UK influential and independent health think-tank, The Nuffield Trust, certainly thinks so – and PRimage finds their new report on the US experience and insights from American medical organisations makes for fascinating reading: http://www.nuffieldtrust.org.uk/publications/

The report sets out the lessons that the nascent GP consortia in England will need to learn from the experience of groups of doctors in some parts of America, which have been commissioning healthcare for patients, with a budget to match, for up to 20 years. It suggests that these new groupings of family doctors will need excellent leadership, management and IT support if they are to work well, and that there are ‘clear risks of introducing GP commissioning in England when the Government has placed such a strong emphasis on reducing management costs.’