A Unique Inquiry
The People's Inquiry into London's NHS completed its information-gathering stage in Lewisham Hospital on December 6, having held seven public hearings in different parts of London, and received evidence from around 100 people. This is a unique and significant body of information on the capital's health services.
The 6-person Panel is now considering its report and recommendations, and planning ways of opening up debate and discussion on those recommendations to make them part of the process of policy development in the run-up to the next General Election.
We began from the recognition that London's NHS faces exceptional problems: very large targets for cost savings; a series of proposals for far-reaching reconfiguration and cutbacks in hospital services - with question marks over their viability; stretched mental health and social care services; struggling PFI hospitals; specialist services facing price competition and now commissioned centrally by NHS England, and many other issues.
London shares some problems with other parts of the country: the fragmentation, instability and uncertainty created by the Health & Social Care Act; the abolition of the strategic health authorities which had the overview of services, and the consequent loss of any strategic planning; the lack of transparency and public accountability of decision making; and the rising bureaucratic costs and complexity of a new health market that compels Clinical Commissioning Groups to put ever more services out to tender.
So what are the implications and future prospects for patients, staff and the wider public? The People's Inquiry was set up last autumn by Unite the union, with a distinguished, independent-minded panel, to gather the facts, take the pulse, and suggest ways forward.
We will be publishing more details of our hearings - edited transcripts, documents and written evidence submitted to the Inquiry - as they are made ready in the next few weeks, with the full report and the panel's recommendations to be published in early March.
This website will keep you updated. Meanwhile we still welcome information and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org