Healthcare in London
The earliest state hospitals in the UK were set up in London under the management of the Metropolitan Asylums Board which was established by the Metropolitan Poor Act 1867. They supplemented the pattern of voluntary hospitals which had developed, in the case of St Bartholomew's Hospital since 1123. Florence Nightingale campaigned to establish accommodation in infirmaries for the sick separate from that provided by workhouses. She had formulated her schemes for immediate application to London because it was obvious that sweeping reforms could not be absorbed at once throughout the country. In 1860, she proved successful in her campaign and founded, in London, the world's first secular nursing school connected to a fully serving hospital and medical school (St. Thomas' Hospital).
Sanatorium benefit was a particular feature of the National Insurance Act 1911. The Metropolitan Asylums Board had established some 8,500 isolation beds and it was agreed that these beds could be used to meet the obligations of the London County Council. The Board was eventually dissolved in March 1930 as a result of the Local Government Act 1929 and its 24,000 beds transferred to the Council. The Local Government Act permitted, but did not compel, local authorities to take over Poor Law institutions, and to bring some measure of order into an expanded municipal hospital system. This opportunity was exploited by the LCC, which by 1936 had become a stronghold for members of the Socialist Medical Association. Somerville Hastings, President of the SMA, was chairman of the LCC’s hospital committee. "The LCC constituted a crucible for experiment, a state within the medical state" which informed the Ministry of Health during the evolution of its thinking on a comprehensive health service. The expansion of health services by the LCC resulted in the maternal death rate per thousand births falling dramatically, from 7.2 in 1932 to 2.49 in 1937 and London under Labour going from well above to below the national average.
Patterns of deprivation
Attempts to map deprivation in the city date back at least to London Labour and the London Poor in the 1840s, if not to Defoe's A Journal of the Plague Year of 1722. More recently there has been some powerful use of the London Underground as a method of illustration. Life expectancy famously varies, often by several years, between one tube station and the next.
London has the highest rates of childhood obesity of any comparable global city. Healthy eating messages in schools are overwhelmed by the temptations of more than 8,000 fast food outlets – with around 800 more opening every year.
London illustrated the difficulties which would flow from the market model. The 1990 NHS reforms precipitated a crisis in London which necessitated emergency action in the form of the Tomlinson review of London health services. There were severe restrictions on competition. Purchasers were instructed to maintain a "steady state" and the terminology was altered to play down market connotations.
Proposals for reorganisation
In 1993 the Tomlinson review of London hospitals was published and concluded that there were too many hospitals in central London. It recommended that services should be delivered closer to where people lived and that funds should be made available to raise the standard of GP premises in inner London. Several hospitals were threatened with closure. Although Tomlinson claimed that he had "found an acceptance of the need for change" in fact the proposals were largely rejected.
Frank Dobson commissioned Sir Leslie Turnberg and a panel to undertake a strategic review of health services in the capital in 1997. The report particularly stressed the degree to which primary care in the capital was lagging behind the rest of the country, but the focus of the government continued to be on hospitals.
In December 2006 NHS London asked Lord Darzi to "develop a strategy to meet Londoners' health needs over the next five to ten years". His report Healthcare for London: A Framework for Action was published on 11 July 2007. It recommended the development of academic health science centres and the introduction of more primary services in one place: polyclinics. The plan for moving care from hospitals to GP-led polyclinics was largely thwarted by GP opposition, but his call for trauma, acute stroke and heart attack services to be centralised in specialist units was seen as successful and was widely copied.
In September 2013, Lord Darzi was appointed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to lead a review of health and wellbeing and services in London after NHS London was abolished leaving the capital with no strategic direction in health. The Mayor has no formal responsibility for the NHS. The London Health Commission which reported in October 2014 proposed the toughest measures seen in the UK to tackle the “obesity emergency” that leaves one in three 10-year-olds overweight or obese including Ofsted-style ratings highlighting the best and worst schools at promoting healthy eating, and requiring chain restaurants to include “traffic light” calorie warnings on menus. He called for the Mayor to rewrite the London Plan to give borough councils greater protecting in banning takeaways from within 400m of the school gates.
"There have been two main patterns for London's health service planning - the "starfish" with a radial organisation reflecting the transport links and the "doughnut" with the élite hospitals, the cream, in the middle."
There have been attempts to create authorities across Greater London, but in general the conurbation has been divided into sectors, often extending into the suburbs and rural areas which look to the city for specialist provision. The city was divided into four quarters in 1946 in order to establish Regional Hospital Boards and this pattern was repeated with the establishment of Regional Health Authorities in 1974. In each case the regions extended into the home counties. The teaching hospitals, of which a majority were in London, were not integrated into the regional structure until 1974, but reported directly to the Minister. In order to fulfil their teaching responsibilities the 12 undergraduate teaching hospitals needed access to virtually all the beds in inner London.
In 1974 16 Area Health Authorities were established in London, most covering two boroughs. All but two of the Primary Care Trusts in London were co-terminous with the London Boroughs. City of London was combined with Hackney, and Merton and Sutton were combined.
NHS London was established as a strategic health authority in 2006 responsible for the performance of 31 Primary care trusts (PCTs), in 6 clusters, 20 acute trusts, three mental health trusts and the London Ambulance Service. A further 16 trusts in London were self-governing Foundation trusts. It was abolished in 2013.
In March 2016 five Sustainability and transformation plan footprints were established covering the capital:
- North West London led by Dr Mohini Parmar, the Chair of Ealing Clinical Commissioning Group
- North Central London led by David Sloman, the Chief Executive of Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust
- North East London led by Jane Milligan, the Chief Officer of Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group
- South East London led by Amanda Pritchard, the Chief Executive of Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust
- South West London led by Kathryn Magson, the Chief Officer of Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group.
The 32 London clinical commissioning groups agreed to pool 0.15 per cent of their budgets to create a shared fund to make improvements to healthcare across London in April 2015. This is intended to finance 13 programmes:
- develop an urgent and emergency care network across the city;
- address the poorer health outcomes in London for children and young people compared to the rest of the country;
- address the life expectancy gap for people with severe and lasting mental health issues;
- improve early detection of cancer;
- invest in primary care;
- give CCGs greater control over specialised commissioning;
- improve homeless healthcare services.
The Royal Commission on the National Health Service in 1979 reported on the special difficulties of providing primary care services in London. In 1977 31% of London GPs were single-handed compared with the English average of 16%. 35% of London GP practices had fewer than 2,000 patients compared with the national figure of almost 20%. The Commission considered that teaching hospitals had a responsibility to improve the quality of primary care services in their surrounding areas.
According to Clare Gerada, chair of the London primary care clinical board primary care in London has had “virtually no investment” in over a decade. A third of all GP practices in London are not compliant with the Disability Discrimination Act.
Out-of-hours services are provided by: Grabadoc in Greenwich and Bexley; Partnership of East London Co-operatives (PELC) Limited in Waltham Forest, Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge, and Havering; South East London Doctors' Co-operative (SELDOC) in Sutton, Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham; Care UK in Kingston, Harrow, Hillingdon, Merton, Islington, Camden and Ealing; KCW Co-operative in Kensington & Chelsea; East Berkshire Primary Care Out Of Hours Services Limited in Richmond; Virgin Care in Croydon; Newham GP Co-operative in Newham; Barts Health NHS Trust in Tower Hamlets; City & Hackney Urgent Healthcare Social Enterprise in the City and Hackney; London Central and West Unscheduled Care Collaborative in Westminster, Ealing, Hounslow, and Hammersmith; Barndoc Healthcare Ltd in Barnet, Enfield, Haringey & Brent; Emdoc and Greenbrook Healthcare in Bromley.
The Londonwide Local Medical Committee which represents GPs in 27 of the 32 London boroughs produced a report for the Health Committee in September 2015 describing a crisis in primary care where "saturation point has been hit even by the most competently working practices in London. General practice in London is beset by blockages in flow, diverting staff from consulting, co-ordinating or planning care, and both reducing access to patients and demotivating professionals".
Croydon CCG commissioned a 10-year contract to improve older people's care in Croydon worth £1.8bn in May 2015. It will be delivered by a partnership of Croydon Health Services NHS Trust, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the Croydon GPs Group, which aims to include all the GP practices in the borough, Age UK Croydon, and Croydon Council’s adult social care.
- Category:Health in London
- Healthcare in the United Kingdom
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