Tag Archives: Save the NHS

Public need not private greed – Birmingham TUC Conference on NHS Privatisation – 22nd Feb

NHS belongs to the peopleOrganised by the Birmingham Trades Union Council.
Privatisation of our health service will reduce staff, service levels, cost us more for treatments, Concerned?

Following on from the successful TUC protest rally in Manchester in September, this important conference is open to all trade unionists and the public to see what we can ALL do to campaign against this threat to our NHS.

11am – 4:30pm, Saturday, 22nd of February 2014.
Priory meeting rooms, Bull Street, City centre, B4 6AF.

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BTUC Conference On NHS Reforms – Saturday 22nd Feb 2014

"NHS Cuts Costs Patients' Lives" BannerDear Colleagues and Comrades,

Please put Saturday 22nd February 2014 in your diary for the Birmingham Trades Union Council conference on the NHS Reforms, their impact and what we can do about them.

We have secured some national and local speakers from Keep Our NHS Public, Save Our NHS and hospital campaign groups/the Pensioners Convention, etc with further speakers to be booked in the coming months.

The day will also feature practical workshops on responding to and fighting privatisation from campaigners, local and national.

The event will be held at the Priory Rooms, Bull St, Birmingham from 11am to 4pm with refreshments.

There will be no charge for this event, but we hope to have some sponsorship and also donations on the day from conference participants.

Further details and a draft programme will be available before Christmas.

In the meantime, could you please circulate this notice to others who may want to attend and, if you wish to register an initial interest for the event,
please email Ian Scott at i.scott212@btinternet.com


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Erdington Against The Cuts Public Meeting – Keeping Our NHS Public In Birmingham

Erdington NHS meeting image SeptemberBirmingham people will have to get organised for a major fight to keep the NHS alive in the West Midlands. A major NHS funding crisis has been deliberately engineered by the Conservative / Lib-Dem Coalition government, and this is going to erupt between now and 2015.

Wednesday, 25th September 2013 7.30pm

Erdington Methodist Church Centre, Station Road, Erdington 323 GTX
(opposite the train station)
For directions telephone: 07771567496

Speaker: Terry Mandrell (Solihull Keep NHS Public)

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What Future For The NHS In Solihull – Public Meeting Jan 31st

Solihull NHS meeting janCan you imagine an NHS run like a train company with preferred business users; 1st and 2nd Class services; ever-rising ‘fares’; delays; disruption and paid-for extras? lt is now possible.

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Solidarity With Two Sets of Strikers Today

Unison members on Strike at the University of Birmingham

Unison Members on strike at the University

Birmingham Against the Cuts extends messages of solidarity to two sets of striking workers today – doctors (GPs and hospital doctors) are on strike over cuts to pensions, and at the University of Birmingham, support staff are on strike over pay cuts.

Doctors are facing the same pension cuts as other public sector workers – pay more and work longer to get less. This attack serves two purposes – it allows them to cut pay, without having to say they are cutting pay and it softens the NHS (and other public services) up for privatisation. The money saved will not go into the pension pots, despite the language the government uses about how pensions are unsustainable and we have to work longer, but will go to paying off the deficit caused by the bankers.

Hospitals will still have skeleton staff to deal with emergencies – in fact there will be more doctors on duty today then there were over the Jubilee weekend or on a normal nightshift. Doctors and other NHS workers do not go on strike lightly, nor would they do so if they thought they were endangering patient’s health. This is the first doctors strike for 37 years.

Being a doctor is a difficult job, because medical research advances so quickly, with new techniques and medicines being developed all the time, and thousands of medical trials conducted every year. This is a particular issue for GPs who need to keep a shallow but general knowledge of all areas of medicine. As we get older, we find it harder to incorporate new ideas and practices into our lives, and get used to the ways we have done things. Making doctors work later to get their pensions could have serious knock on effects on patient care.

Meanwhile, at the University of Birmingham, support staff are on a two-day strike, over a derisory pay offer, which has seen just 77 of over 2,000 staff offered a £250 / 1.9% pay rise, whilst removing shift allowances for evening and weekend work which leaves many people facing a pay cut. Even those who will get a rise will see their wages fall in real terms as inflation which has fallen below 3% for the first time in a few years.
This comes in the context of the university increasing its surplus from £22.3m to £27m per year, and is in a healthy financial position, despite cuts to teaching budgets from central government funds which are being used as cover for reducing the living standards of some of the lowest paid staff at the university, whilst the Vice-Chancellor, David Eastwood enjoys huge pay rises and a salary of over £400,000.
You can support the University strikers by signing this petition.

Both these groups are taking action today against the government austerity program which threatens to send many more people below the breadline, with real wages being reduced further, the continuing threat of workfare and the abuse of apprenticeships to undercut minimum wage legislation.
We extend our solidarity to those workers on strike today, and encourage all other workers who are facing cuts to pay or conditions to push their union to take strike action.


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Workfare Comes to the NHS in Birmingham & Sandwell

Sandwell and Birmingham Hospitals trust have begun using unpaid workfare labour to cover for £125m of cuts to the “ringfenced” NHS budget.

First reported by Eoin Clarke, the story has been picked up by the Guardian, and Right to Work have called a demonstration at Sandwell Hospital on Thursday, from 5pm.

6 people, forced under threat of having their benefits stopped, have taken part in a trial scheme, which has seen them undertake a number of duties including cleaning and running errands but also extending to patient care in non-clinical areas, helping with meals and drinks.

Ravi Subramanian, the head of Unison, West Midlands, said:

Far from Tory claims to protect the NHS, Birmingham and Sandwell hospital trust is being forced to find savings of £125m over the next five years.

Thousands of staff are facing the prospect of losing their jobs and wards are closing. Now the hospital is making moves to deliver healthcare on the cheap, by using people on work experience to help with patient care. Patients and staff will rightly be very worried about the standard of patient care as this scheme is rolled out.

When we signed up to the Boycott Workfare campaign, we did so on the basis that we believed that workfare would be used to cover for cuts, with people on benefits being forced to do unpaid work in order to keep the money they need for food, fuel and rent. People who refuse to take part in workfare schemes face benefit sanctions of up to 6 months, although pressure on the government from campaigners and legal challenges has seen sanctions removed from some of the schemes.

With unemployment remaining at high levels, no sign of economic recovery and a continued commitment to austerity from the ConDem coalition, we can expect to see more of this, unless we make such a huge outcry now that it is not politically viable for public sector organisations to continue to take part in workfare schemes.

Today the Telegraph has reported that the £5bn work programme is failing, as employers are reluctant to expand their workforce in the face of economic uncertainty. The Telegraph reports that only 20% of people sent on the Work Programme find work, and there is no data as to whether these jobs are temporary or permanent. One thing is clear, that the work programme does not improve people’s chances of getting a job, and is an expensive waste of taxpayer’s money.

The issue with the NHS is not just about the exploitation of unemployed and disabled people, or about the fact that this is taking the place of paid positions, it is also about threats patient care and cuts to the NHS. We implore everyone who can to come along on Thursday and say No to Workfare and No to NHS Cuts.

Thursday 24th May at 5pm

Sandwell Hospital, West Bromwich, B71 4HJ. Assemble at the corner of Little Lane and All Saints Road, outside the A&E dept.


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Lansley Heckled at ICC as Demonstrators Gather Outside

Around 60 people gathered at the ICC in Birmingham on Tuesday 15th May, as Lansley was expected at a NICE conference being held at the ICC. The demonstration was called by Save Our NHS West Midlands and Keep Our NHS Public, the demonstration attracted wide support from other organisations, NHS workers and everyone else who uses the NHS.

Save our NHS West Midlands and the Birmingham Mail both reported on the event, which took place under the cover of the entrance to the ICC at centenary square as we sheltered from the rain (having missed the hail storm thankfully).
At one point police asked demonstrators to move out from underneath the cover, a request that was roundly refused on the basis that we didn’t want to get caught out by the weather! You can watch some videos of the protest by Birmingham Citizen TV.

Of course, Lansley didn’t pay us a visit on his way in to the conference. Still hurting from the heckling he received at the RCN conference on Monday, and perhaps mindful of this incident, Lansley decided not to take the opportunity to try to defend the fragmentation and privatisation of the Health Service his NHS bill is bringing, nor to explain why he is seeking 20% efficiency savings in the most efficient health service in the world, how staffing cuts have led to the use of workfare labour in Birmingham hospitals, or why he supports regional pay, which 99.2% of Nurses voted to oppose.

However, when Lansley spoke inside, he was heckled over his decision not to release the risk register
He and the rest of the coalition will find it increasingly difficult to avoid the backlash to their disliked and harmful reforms as patient care suffers like it has at this Birmingham Dialysis unit.
Perhaps it is because this will not be an isolated incident that Lansley has vetoed releasing the risk register, a decision the Information Commissioner says “is unjustified and departs from policy” and may have far reaching implications for freedom of information in the UK.


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NHS Demonstration on Tuesday – Lansley Visiting Birmingham

Andrew Lansley is speaking at a NICE conference at the ICC on Tuesday 15th, and there will be a demonstration from 5pm in Centenary Square, called by Keep Our NHS Public and Save Our NHS West Midlands.

Lansley is responsible for the Health and Social Care Bill, which is currently passing into law, having been voted through by the Tories and Lib Dems, despite the legislation not being in either manifesto, and David Cameron having said that there would be no top down reform of the NHS.

Already the vultures are circling, with Virgin Health and Serco picking up contracts to run NHS services. The cap on private patients in NHS hospital has been raised to 49% and the responsibility for the provision of healthcare services has been removed from the Secretary of State for Health (they now only have to “promote” healthcare services – creating the legal space for the complete privatisation of our healthcare, and the reduction of the NHS to a brand or insurance provider).

Lansley has vetoed the release of the risk register, which examines potential problems with the legislation. This is despite court orders to release it as the information is in the public interest so we can better understand the effect that the changes will have on our healthcare.
Has this been blocked because it reveals that patient care will suffer, as it has for dialysis patients in Birmingham following the outsourcing of the service, or because it reveals the huge risk of healthcare companies going bust, like Southern Cross did in social care – leaving the taxpayer to pick up the bill.
Are they refusing to release it because it shows that the cost of health care will spiral as we hand money over to shareholders in the form of profits, and as administrative costs rise. In the USA, they pay more than twice as much per person for healthcare as we do.

The NHS is the most efficient healthcare system in the world, with among the best patient outcomes. It is not perfect, and can be improved. We need to examine how we can pay for rising healthcare costs associated with an aging population and with ever increasing medical knowledge that finds new treatments. But every single NHS workers organisation – all the doctors and nurses that deliver healthcare – are against the bill, repeatedly calling for it to be withdrawn in its entirety.
These reforms are not the right way to go – moving towards a privatised healthcare system modeled on the expensive and ineffective US model of private insurance with minimal state provided cover.

Join us on Tuesday to continue the fight for the NHS. The bill has not yet passed into law, though the changes it creates are already being implemented. We can make this issue the coalition’s Poll Tax, and reverse the changes that have been made before consulting with NHS workers about how to change the NHS for the better, and not in order to line the pockets of private companies and consultancies like McKinsey.


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2 NHS Petitions You Should Sign

2 petitions have been posted on the government’s e-petition website that we would encourage you to sign.
The first is a call to recruit 5,000 more midwives. This is particularly relevant in Birmingham, where the womens’ hospital recently turned away pregnant women due to staff shortages.


The second is a petition to drop the NHS reform bill, in the light of recent refusals by the government to release risk register reports because they would have had implications for the success of the policy getting through parliament.
Given that the full implications of the NHS reform bill were not available to MPs or Lords, the bill should be dropped.
The BMA have stated their further opposition to the reform bill after draft guidelines on commissioning were released, which they say will remove power from GPs, and hand it to private organisations.


You can keep up with NHS news and campaigns locally with Save Our NHS West Midlands

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Block the Bridge, Block the Bill – Sunday 9th October

UK Uncut have called for mass civil disobedience in protest at the Health and Social Care Bill, which goes to the Lords next week.

The government is just weeks away from destroying the NHS forever. This is an emergency. On Sunday October 9th at 1pm, join UK Uncut on Westminster Bridge and help block the bill.

A free coach is available from Birmingham – email BrumUncut@Gmail.com, call Kerry on 07835 602 575 or attend this facebook event, and Kerry or Tom will be in contact this week to confirm and give final details.
Additional: a free coach will also be going from Telford. Email shropsfightback@virginmedia.com to book a space on that.

On one side of Westminster Bridge is Parliament. On 7th September, MPs in the Commons voted for the end of the NHS as we know it. Yet the coalition’s Health and Social Care bill was not in the Lib Dem manifesto. It was not in the Tory manifesto. None of us voted for this.

On the opposite side of the bridge is St Thomas’ Hospital, one of Britain’s oldest medical institutions. If the bill passes, hospitals like St Thomas’ will be sold to private corporations, the staff put on private payrolls and beds given over to private patients. Despite the government’s lies, this bill represents the wholesale privatization of the NHS and, with it, the destruction of the dream of comprehensive healthcare provided equally to all.

On October 11th, the bill moves to the Lords, and a huge Liberal Democrat rebellion is brewing. We have one last chance to save our NHS.
On Sunday 9th October, just days before the bill moves to the Lords, join UK Uncut in a spectacular act of mass civil disobedience to block the bill. By blocking Westminster Bridge we symbolically block the bill from getting from Parliament to our hospitals. Yes, it will be disruptive. Yes, it will stop the traffic. But this is an emergency and we have to shout as loud as we can.

Get to the middle of Westminster Bridge shortly before 1pm. When Big Ben strikes one, pick one of the tactics below and help block the bridge:

  • Bring some fake blood and play dead
  • Bring hospital radio to the bridge with some music and comedy
  • Bring a nurse for a resuscitation skill-share
  • Dress up in scrubs and perform an operation
  • Enjoy a picnic overlooking Parliament
  • Share stories about the the NHS
  • Invite a friend from across the pond to describe the reality of a privatised healthcare system
  • Invite older generations to describe a time before universal healthcare
  • (if you’ve got other good ideas, email them to ukuncut@gmail.com)

Invite everyone you know to the Facebook event, and make sure you click ‘attending’. UK Uncut will be in close contact with St. Thomas’ before and during the protest to ensure access for emergency vehicles.

It is really important that as many people as possible attend this protest, we cannot let the NHS get destroyed without a big demonstration. In Birmingham, we held a demo at QE hospital, and Save Our NHS West Midlands were busy lobbying local MPs in August in the run up to the commons vote, but the only national demo was a rather underwhelming candle lit vigil called by the TUC.
This is the last opportunity to stop or change the health care bill, and we have to take it.
A free coach is available from Birmingham – email BrumUncut@Gmail.com, call Kerry on 07835 602 575 or attend this facebook event, and Kerry or Tom will be in contact this week to confirm and give final details.

Join the free coach from Birmingham, and take part in this action.

Please be prepared for a kettle. Hopefully the police will allow people to leave at 4pm, which is the time that UK Uncut have said the protest will finish, however everyone who goes should be ready to be stuck on the bridge well into the evening. As such, please make sure that you take warm and waterproof clothing, food and water, and be aware that toilet facilities may not be available. If there is a Kettle, Birmingham Uncut (who are running the coach) will be in contact with the driver to ensure that the coach will wait. Th return time is provisionally set for 6pm, but will leave as soon as everyone is back.
It is really important that we are not intimidated by this prospect and that we do not allow the police to prevent us from standing up and saying loudly and clearly that we did not vote for these reforms, that we do not want them, that we stand with the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, UNISON, UNITE and over 400 public health experts who today wrote an open letter calling for the bill to be withdrawn, as well as pretty much every other professional medical association, in calling for the bill to be scrapped in its entirety.

You should also write to Peers. Save Our NHS West Mids are gathering a list of local peers, but for now you can use the TUC Adopt A Peer website to get details of someone to write to – they also have a model letter for you to use, although it is always best to write your own if you can.

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