Fourteen questions for new NHS Boss Simon Stevens

29 April 2014 — OurNHS

The new head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, appears before the Health Select Committee today. Here are fourteen questions OurNHS hopes MPs will ask him.

  1. Do you agree that the evidence shows progressive taxation is the fairest and most efficient way of funding a health service? Or do you have other preferences, and if so, what and why?
  2. Last year NHS England said there was a ‘paucity’ of evidence that competition was of any benefit to patients. But it’s been reported that you are more ‘pro-competition’ than your predecessor David Nicholson. Have you found some new evidence to show that greater private sector involvement is of any benefit?
  3.  Why can’t NHS England tell us how much operating a ‘market’ adds to NHS costs each year?
  4.  Why can’t NHS England tell us how much the NHS gives G4S or Serco each year?
  5.  Do you think its ok for at least half of nurses to have another real terms pay cut this year? For any staff in the NHS to earn less than the living wage?
  6.  Why are we closing beds when we already have amongst the lowest of any comparable nation?
  7.  How can we have care in the community when District Nurse numbers have dropped 40% in 10 years and it is less experienced staff replacing them – isn’t this just about cuts, in reality?
  8.  How can mental health have ‘parity of esteem’ when it is experiencing bigger funding cuts than acute trusts?
  9.  Do you think your focus should be on teaching health staff compassion, or ensuring there are enough frontline nurses to exercise it? What are you going to do about the fact that 2/3 of nurses are considering quitting, compared to one in 5 under the previous government?
  10. What are you going to do to ensure local people are properly consulted about the future of their local services, now that the hospital closure clause which substantially weakens that local voice is nearly law?
  11.  In 2010/11 you were a notable advocate of the Health & Social Care Act and called for further changes including a voucher scheme and Michael Gove-style ‘free hospitals’. In the same interview you told the Financial Times that “national pay bargaining may have led to more than 3,000 deaths in the past decade”. Do you still stand by these comments, or have your views changed?
  12.  Have you got rid of any financial interest you may have had in United Health from your time as a senior executive there? Do you have anything to say about the fraud that United Health perpetrated during that time?
  13. Do you accept that the Nuffield Trust found no evidence that Scotland and Welsh health systems were worse performing overall, and in fact there is some evidence their less marketised system are doing better on less?
  14.  Do you think we should restore the Secretary of State’s legal duty to secure a comprehensive health service, to ensure that we don’t see a rise in rationing, insurance, and charges? If not, why not?

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