Yet another NHS shake up coming?

The following is from the Mental Health Wales website and if you would like to read similar items, then please click on the link to Mental Health Wales – under Links in the right hand column. NHS Shake-up Imminent
BBC1’s news magazine programme The Politics Show yesterday publicised the exclusive interview given by Health Minister Edwina Hart to Hafal’s quarterly journal Mental Health Wales and in particular to comments made by the Minister pointing to imminent and major change to the NHS in Wales.The Politics Show highlighted that the Minister had chosen to give a candid interview to patient group Hafal, in which she gave clear and unambiguous indication of a shake-up in the way health services are commissioned in Wales.The autumn issue of Mental Health Wales, which contains the interview with Mrs Hart, is available on-line from today.

 edwina-hart-am.jpg  Edwina Hart AM  Assembly Government Health and Social Services Minister. In the course of a wide-ranging interview, the Minister gives her forthright view on the “plethora” of commissioning bodies in Wales, calling them “not effective” and promising change.

The BBC’s Politics Show feature drew on comments Mrs Hart made in the Mental Health Wales interview, including her assertion: “In general I think there are too many commissioning bodies. We need to do something about it. That is my view.”

The Minister goes on to say: “There is a plethora of commissioning bodies and it’s very difficult for people to understand what it all means in terms of the services they receive. I don’t think this plethora allows us to have effective commissioning. It’s all about continuity of care across the piece.”

Welsh health services are planned and commissioned by the 22 Local Health Boards, one in each local authority area. But patient groups and others believe the system is too complicated and costly, and leads to uneven service provision across Wales.

Asked for her own views on the number of commissioning bodies in Wales, the Minister told Mental Health Wales: “People are getting lost in the gaps between providers of services but, worse than that, some people are getting batted back and forth between various places and that’s not acceptable.”
Cross-party support for change is evident within the Senedd: Conservative shadow health minister Jonathan Morgan said of the current structure: “It will get worse of course now that the Health Minister is going to be merging some of the health Trusts and creating these super hybrid trusts.
“The problem with that is that the rationale for keeping these mini-LHBs will simply disappear because if they can’t compete with NHS Trusts now, they certainly won’t compete with the new bigger trusts.”

And AM Helen Mary Jones, Assembly Government coalition partner Plaid Cymru’s spokesperson on health, said: “It is clear that we cannot go on as we have been.

“There are too many organisations and too much money being spent on administration and, of course, these are resources that we cannot then use for front-line care.”

Bill Walden-Jones, the Chief Executive of Hafal, said: “It’s entirely appropriate that the Health Minister used a patient group to signal her intentions on this matter because this is a move which looks to address their needs.

“Hafal has argued for many years that the Welsh Assembly Government needs to invest in front-line services and not bureaucracies. It can’t be right that with a population of just 2.9m Wales needs 22 separate legal entities – the Local Health Boards – to commission NHS services.

“There are excellent people working in commissioning and it would be great to see them freed up in a streamlined NHS to develop joined-up services and work alongside patients to improve services for everyone.”

Mental Health Wales is the quarterly journal produced and published by Hafal, Wales’ principal charity for people with severe mental illness and their carers. Mental Health Wales is a client-led publication that keeps patients, professionals, policy-makers and the wider public informed about current mental health issues.


2 Responses to “Yet another NHS shake up coming?”

  1. JP Says:

    Personally, I agree that there should be a revision of the commissioning structures in Wales. The less commissioning bodies there are, the cheaper they will be to run. However, the expense of restructuring the commissioning bodies will have to be looked at in more detail. I am looking forward to seeing what the proposal will be but I’m sure there will be turbulent times to come!

  2. Dai Cap Says:

    Unless there is robust monitoring by commissioners to ensure that they are commissioning effective services it will be the person using the service that will loose out.

    Will the re-organisation of the commissioning structures improve the delivery of service? Probably not! Still the NHS Trusts will be in charge.

    Again the agenda of improving mental health service deliver across Wales has been warped into changing a commissioning infrastructure which has provided ‘jobs for the boys’. Edwina Hart & the Assembly are now agreeing that this is not effective. Well, that’s really a case of stating the obvious! How I doff my cap to the Assembly.

    I believe the reason for the original change to local commissioning was that the local communities, including service users and carers would have a greater say in the service that were commissioned. Has this happened?

    Now we’re going back to larger commissioning structure, that will save money, but is likely to ignore the small local organisations that don’t have a commercial brand name and a presence at the Assembly.

    Has any of these changes actually provided better mental health services? No! Cut the **** and actually make the NHS and other service providers deliver what they’re supposed to.

    Involve service users and carers effectively at all levels, not just as a tick-box exercise. Then we might see a better degree of planning, a better delivery of service, and more chance of an effective recovery for people experiencing mental illness.

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