Reforms are putting patients' lives at risk, say NHS trusts

Labour calls on Government to publish risk assessments showing effects of £20bn savings

Patient safety is being put at risk by the Government's huge NHS shake-up, health trusts have warned, as Labour accused ministers of "breathtaking and dangerous arrogance".

Risk assessments from health trusts, compiled by the Labour Party, reveal widespread concern about their ability to cope at a time of major structural upheaval and ambitious plans to find £20bn in efficiency savings.

Some trusts warn that ministers have failed to learn from earlier scandals, including Stafford hospital, where it was estimated up to 1,200 patients died in four years because the NHS trust was preoccupied with cost cutting and targets. Others raise serious concerns about care for children, the elderly and pregnant women.

The Department for Health is locked in a battle with Labour over the release of the national risk assessment of its reforms. Christopher Graham, the information commissioner, has ruled it must be published, but ministers have launched an appeal, insisting no Government has published registers before.

However, Andy Burnham, the shadow Health Secretary, has compiled a dossier of concerns from individual trusts, which he claims reveals "what the Government doesn't want people to know about the risks it is running with its dangerous reorganisation of the NHS".

Writing in The Independent on Sunday, he accuses ministers of "sticking two fingers up at Parliament" and ploughing on with the changes before the legislation has been passed. "The arrogance is breathtaking, but also dangerous," he writes.

On Thursday the Health and Social Care Bill, which paves the way for the abolition of primary care trusts and strategic health authorities, enters the 13th day of its committee stage in the House of Lords. Mr Burnham stepped up his call for it to be scrapped: "Time is running out, but it's not too late. Britain's right wing may have launched a coup against the NHS, but it can still be stopped."

Mr Burnham said his dossier proves NHS reorganisation "is putting patient care at risk". NHS South Central, covering Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight and Oxfordshire, highlighted a "risk that the pace and scale of reform, if coupled with savings through cost reductions rather than real service redesign, could adversely impact on safety and quality."

In London there are warnings of "sub-optimal care" and the risk of "preventable harm to children" and mothers-to-be "being exposed to unsafe services". NHS Sussex warns the upheaval means staff are distracted from providing care, with the potential for "increased stress and sickness absence, lower morale and an inability to retain staff.

However, Lord Howe, the health minister, defended the decision not to release the national risk register, noting that in 2009 Mr Burnham, then Health Secretary, turned down a Freedom of Information request to publish Labour's risk register.

"We have been completely open about 'risk'," Lord Howe said. "People shouldn't trust the negative stories and scares briefed out by Labour. Their own plans would mean cutting the NHS, with serious consequences for the services patients rely on. Our plans to modernise the NHS will give doctors and nurses power to improve care, patients more choice, and save the NHS £4.5bn in bureaucracy."

Officials insist that the Department of Health has published "risk" information twice, in January and September this year, as part of the impact assessment for the Bill.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
Arts and Entertainment
The Ridiculous Six has been produced by Adam Sandler, who also stars in it
filmNew controversy after nine Native American actors walked off set
Voices
Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and David Cameron appeal to the audience during the Question Time special
voices
Sport
Danny Jones was in the Wales squad for the 2013 World Cup
rugby leagueKeighley Cougars half-back was taken off after just four minutes
Life and Style
Google celebrates Bartolomeo Cristofori's 360th birthday
techGoogle Doodle to the rescue
Life and Style
The original ZX Spectrum was simple to plug into your TV and get playing on
techThirty years on, the ZX Spectrum is back, after a fashion
News
Tiger Woods and Lindsey Vonn are breaking up after nearly three years together
peopleFormer couple announce separation in posts on their websites
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Digital Marketing Consultant

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Digital Marketing Cons...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Stores Keeper

£16640 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Assistant Stores Keeper is r...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an excellent opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer - C# / ASP.NET / SQL

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Developer required to join a bu...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living