Outrageous reply from MP/Government Minister. This is a bit long, but worth reading as a classic example of political buck-passing!

Some weeks ago I signed an online petition requesting better treatment/diagnosis of thyroid disease - this was automatically forwarded to my MP. He apparently passed it on to the Minister of Health, who in turn forwarded it to the Minister of State for Care and Support. The following is the reply received by my MP:

“We want to make the NHS among the best in Europe at supporting people with ongoing health problems, such as thyroid or thyroid-related conditions. However, the issues Ms F. raises are the responsibility of NHS England. We have therefore asked NHS England to make measurable progress in improving outcomes for people with long-term conditions, by making the NHS more responsive to their needs. NHS England is an independent arm’s length body that is now responsible for overseeing the provision and commissioning of services, and is held to account by the Secretary of State for Health.

Our ambition on long-term conditions is set out in the mandate between the Government and NHS England, which was published on 13 November, and requires NHS England to measure its progress against the outcomes in the NHS Outcomes Framework. Domain 2 of the Framework seeks to capture how the NHS is supporting people with long-term conditions to live as normal a life as possible. This will be measured using three outcomes:

•people feeling supported to manage their condition - this measures how well the NHS as a whole is doing in supporting people to look after themselves and handle the consequences of their conditions;

•functional ability - this measures how well the person is able to live as normal a life as possible, and a focus on employment is concordant with the Government’s wider policies about getting people back to work; and

•reduced time spent in hospital - this measures how successfully the NHS manages the condition(s) by looking at unnecessary hospital admissions and excessive length of stay.

It will be the responsibility of NHS England to determine how to deliver the outcomes in the Framework. Ms F. may therefore wish to raise her concerns with NHS England.”

This is my reply to my MP:

Dear Mr Baker

Thank you for your letter of 19 August enclosing a response from the Minister of State for Care and Support.

In your last paragraph you express your hope that this is helpful. I have to say, it is not. I have seen a number of political non-replies in my time, but this has to be one of the worst. Not only does Norman Lamb fail to address my concerns, but the message that emerges from his cliches, gobbledegook and meaningless platitudes is that this is nothing to do with him.

I rather naively thought that health issues were the responsibility of the Department of Health and not "an independent arm's length body". What is this? It sounds alarming, and I would be most grateful for a definition of the term, and an explanation of who or what it comprises.

The letter refers to measuring three outcomes, not one of which mentions restoring the patient to health. This is quite simply outrageous, and leaves me wondering what the NHS is for.

I would appreciate your further comments.

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  • That looks so much like a stock reply from the department of health and that is not acceptable. You may want to point your MP in the direction of the main Thyroid UK website (particularly the case studies), or indeed this forum so he can see the impact of the three steps that don't include restoring the patient to health.

    We are so often told that we should be completely well on levothyroxine only, yet many people are still very unwell. If levothyroxine is all any hypothyroid patient needs, why are not all hypothyroid patients in perfect health? There should be no reason why the NHS cannot restore each and every hypothyroid patient to health if it is just a case of replacing one of the missing hormones, so why are there so many of us who have not been restored to health by the NHS? Of course it isn't that simple, but it is possible in most cases - with the right treatment which, as we know, isn't always levothyroxine.

    I am now, finally, regaining my health but I am doing that myself after being failed by the NHS. The NHS no longer does anything for me in regard to my thyroid health as I am achieving that myself while they are telling me that they cannot help me and that I will always feel ill. I am also not needing them in regard to my other health conditions as they seem to have miraculously improved since treating my own thyroid condition with what I know works for me (it's what I used to be prescribed - t3!)

    It would be interesting to see what your MP's response is to your response :)

    Carolyn x

  • Yes indeed - I'll post it if it's worth reading.

  • There is a Minister of State for Care and Support? Really?! I imagine he/she must spend a lot of time in a plush office drinking tea. Needs to get out more...

    So love your response!!! ;)

  • Thanks. It was the NHS England "an arm's length body" that really got me going. What the hell is it?

  • Usually whenever you write to an MP they forward it to the Dept of Health who take advice from..... THE BTA!!!!! Then you get a stock answer as a reply which does not address any of the issues you complained about!! There has to be a better way....

  • Yes, you'd think so wouldn't you? But it was the NHS England "an arm's length body" that really got me going. What the hell is it?

  • That's a ridiculous phrase and has the unfortunate implication that they're trying to keep you at arm's length!

  • There is no such thing that I can see. Yet another tory story?

  • Thank you for the links. This really is very worrying.

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