Creeping privatisation of the NHS and how it has led to the destruction of community based GP services at Princes Park Health Centre in Toxteth, is revealed in a report to be presented on Tuesday to Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group.(attached) The report, published by Keep Our NHS Public Merseyside, shows what happened when in April 2013 the management was taken over by Wigan-based SSP Health Ltd and the surgery, which at one time was widely acclaimed as a pioneer in the provision of primary care, fell to near the bottom in national ranking. It does acknowledge that problems began in the years prior to the takeover by SSP but then goes on to show how the real deterioration occurred as SSP sought to maximise profits.
Detailed evidence exposes the consequences of putting profit before patients and those entrusted with the responsibility for commissioning and monitoring health services, paying too much attention to ‘ticking boxes’ rather than listening to patients. It outlines in detail how patients have been let down by a system that does not care. SSP Health, commissioned to provide primary care service, has not been held to account by NHS England local area team for Merseyside who are responsible for commission and monitoring service; nor the local Clinical Commissioning Group who are responsible for quality of primary care.
The problems such as patients being unable get appointments, the lack of continuity of care as most of the GP cover is provided by locums and difficulties in getting referrals, test results and prescriptions were highlighted in a public meeting attended by over 100 people, which brought together the Arabic, English and Somali speaking communities. This was followed by a patients survey in the three languages and interviews in which patients detailed the extent to which services have broken down. The chaotic manner in which the surgery is operated can be seen in extensive interviews with former staff members including a practice nurse and a receptionist and in excerpts from the testimony of witnesses in the employment tribunal of a nurse against SSP.
Sam Semoff, a patient at Princes Park for over 30 years and a contributor to the report said, “This is a perfect example of how the quality of services plummets when the private sector is used to provide health care. It is happening throughout the NHS and it is us as patients who suffer, while shareholders laugh all the way to the bank ”.
Similarities, although on a smaller scale, are drawn to what happened in Mid Staffordshire where the Francis report highlighted among other things, “an acceptance of poor standards” and “a failure to put the patient first in everything that is done”. Problems similar to those at Princes Park have been reported in some of the over 40 other surgeries owned by SSP throughout the Northwest.
The full report entitled, “Princes Park Health Centre: The destruction of community based GP services”, can be accessed by going towww.labournet.net/other/1502/konp1.html