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City of Oxford Conservatives are campaigning to prevent cuts in the NHS budget in Oxfordshire and the consequent knock on effects on patients.

The Oxford Story

Crisis is a word that is often overused, but in the case of Oxfordshire's health economy it is most apt. Gordon Brown's recipe for disaster in Oxfordshire consists of pumping any new money into costly, bureaucratic reorganisation of the Primary Care Trust, the ambulance trust and the abolition of the Thames Valley Strategic Health Authority (organisations created in the past ten years by this Labour Government) and the high cost of specialist services based at our city-based teaching hospitals. This together with population growth in Milton Keynes has lead to some 50 million pounds worth of cuts in Oxfordshire. One final key constituent in Brown's lethal cocktail is that Oxfordshire already receives the lowest funding per head of anywhere in the country.

Nationally

David Cameron's Conservatives are backing a new, national campaign to underline our support for the staff of our NHS and the patients they serve. The NHS ended the last financial year with deficits amounting to £1.3 billion. Gordon Brown has now ordered drastic and shortsighted NHS cuts.

We want everyone to show their support for the NHS and those who work in it by signing our petition calling on Gordon Brown to end his financial mismanagement of the NHS - and Stop Brown's NHS Cuts.

Gordon Brown's NHS cuts

Job losses: The Royal College of Nursing estimated in August 2006 that 18,000 jobs have been cut from NHS hospitals in recent months. However, Conservative Party analysis to update these figures now suggests that the total number of job losses is approaching 20,000.

Community hospitals: Despite Labour's much-vaunted claim that its primary care White Paper, Our Health, Our Care, Our Say, published on 30 January 2006, would spell a reprieve for community hospitals, 81 are still threatened by cutbacks or closure, according to the Community Hospitals Association.

Bed losses: 2,036 bed losses have already occurred since April, suggesting that up to 4,000 beds may be lost from the NHS over the whole financial year. This is on top of the 2,500 beds which were lost from NHS hospitals in 2004 -05 and the 6,000 beds cut from NHS hospitals in 2005-06. In just three years, therefore, the NHS is set to lose 12,500 beds - a cut in capacity of 7 per cent.

The effects of the cuts


Patients are discharged too early: With fewer beds and less money, hospitals have been forced to discharge patients too early, leading to a rocketing emergency readmission rate. From the time statistics were first collected until the end of 2003-04, around 5.5 per cent of all patients were readmitted to hospital as emergency cases 28 days after being discharged. However, since the financial crisis of 2004-05 and associated bed losses, the emergency readmission rate has accelerated to 7.1 per cent - and this increase shows no sign of halting.

Training budgets are being slashed: Labour has only managed to get NHS balance sheets to seem relatively healthy by slashing workforce-training budgets. Freedom of Information Act requests to each of England's Strategic Health Authorities have revealed that 150 million of the surpluses they generated in the last financial year is due to under spending on training.

Trainee doctors and nurses face unemployment: The failure to fund workforce training means that drastic cutbacks are affecting the NHS's capacity to take on new staff. A survey in June by the Council of Deans found that just 20 per cent of student nurses graduating in the summer had found a job. This implies that anywhere up to 16,000 of England's 20,000 nursing students may be facing unemployment, despite the fact that it costs up to £39,000 to train each nurse. 93 per cent of this year's 2,529 physiotherapy graduates are unemployed. It costs 28,580 to train each physiotherapist.

Social services are affected: The cutbacks in the NHS are having a knock-on effect on the budgets of local authority social services departments, which have to take up responsibility for patient care as the NHS runs out of money to do so. In March 2006, a report by the Association of Directors of Social Services warned that social services departments faced a funding 'black hole' of £1.8 billion this year - a shortfall directly related to the NHS financial crisis.

Reasons for the cuts

The causes of the NHS financial crisis are legion - but many are due to Labour failure:

Ministerial meddling: There have been ten major reorganisations of the NHS since Labour came to power. Each of these reorganisations has been costly: the merger of Primary Care Trusts and the regionalisation of Strategic Health Authorities in 2006 alone are together estimated to have cost £320 million.

Waste: Labour's financial mismanagement has encouraged a culture of profligacy and waste within the NHS. The number of managers in the NHS is increasing almost three times as fast as the number of doctors and nurses. There are now 264,012 administrators in the NHS, compared to 175,646 beds. In the last year alone, 5,000 more administrators than nurses were recruited. By 2004-05 the extra cost of employing NHS administrators was almost 1.6 billion a year more in real terms than it was in 1999-2000.

Inadequate planning:
Labour's failure to pilot the new NHS staff contracts adequately has created a 'black hole' in NHS finances of 610 million. The cost of Agenda for Change - the pay deal for virtually all staff in the NHS except doctors and dentists - was underestimated by £220 million. The cost of the new contract for hospital consultants was underestimated by 90 million and the cost of the new GP contract by £300 million.

Unfair funding: Labour's system of resource allocation means that the areas with most demand on their health services no longer receive the most money. Until Labour came to power, NHS resources were allocated to areas in a way that secured 'equal opportunity of access to healthcare'. However, Labour have specifically added an element to the allocation formula which aims to tackle health inequalities, meaning that some areas with a low disease burden, but deemed to be socially deprived, receive much more funding than areas deemed to be affluent but with a high burden of disease.

What needs to be done - our Conservative approach

An end to Labour's interference: Labour's interference has now led to the tenth reorganisation of the NHS since it came to power nine years ago. We believe decisions affecting local services should not be taken by distant politicians, but by the patients and frontline staff who use and work in our local NHS.

Money where it is needed: Under Labour, too much money has been diverted from patient care by an NHS bureaucracy, which has swelled its ranks by over 100,000 people since 1997. And the money that does get through is not going where it is needed. Some areas have been able to build services for patients with money to spare, whereas others have been plunged into debt and forced into making swingeing cutbacks. We believe NHS money should go straight to GPs at the frontline, without Labour's interference along the way. And we believe it should go where it is needed.

Long-term thinking: Gordon Brown's financial mismanagement is forcing short-term decision-making. Hospitals are closing their wards to patients without replacing wards with the services in the community needed. We believe that short-term cuts in the NHS at the expense of building services for the future are unacceptable, and that this short-sightedness will prove even more costly in the long run. Because of the financial crisis, Labour politicians have ignored the very real challenges stacking up for the future -for example, obesity, alcohol abuse, and sexually transmitted diseases. We believe that tackling tomorrow's challenges today will save us lives and resources in the long term.

National Campaigns
NHS Yes Stop Brown's NHS Cuts
ID Cards ID Cards: Labour's Bad IDea
Keep our Post Offices Open
Equal Pay Campaign Equal Pay Campaign

Local Campaigns
Flood Safe Campaign Oxford Conservatives' Flood Safe Campaign
Play Fair Campaign Improve children's play facilities in Oxford
One of Oxford's crown jewels at risk from the Liberals. Save the Covered Market Campaign

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