Tag Archives: Save the NHS

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– all the doctors and nurses that deliver healthcare – are against the bill, repeatedly calling for it to be withdrawn in its entirety.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.

3 Comments

Filed under Events

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.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/13716

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.

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22670

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

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

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.

Leave a comment

Filed under Events

Save Our NHS – 38 Degrees legal findings

Campaign group 38 Degrees has paid for legal advice on the Health and Social Care bill, which goes to the house of commons for its third and final reading on September 6th & 7th.

The legal findings underline what campaign groups have said since the bill was first revealed, and which haven’t changed over the consultation period, which is that these reforms open up the NHS to wholesale privatisation, begin the removal of universal health care provision and pave the way towards the creation of a US style healthcare system – a system that has been shown in two recent studies to be worse than the NHS (Commonwealth Fund report: US Ranks last out of 7 countries on health system performance and Bournemouth University report in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine that finds the NHS to be amongst the most cost-effective systems in the world).

We do not have long to work to get this bill defeated in its vote next week. Save Our NHS West Midlands and 38 Degrees are calling for people to write to their MPs with these legal findings. You can get an easy email link and model letter from the 38 Degrees website.
We also call for people to write to the Birmingham Mail, Solihull Observer and other local papers to make sure this issue is in the news.

Locally we must focus on the two Liberal Democrat MPs – John Hemming and Lorely Burt in Yardley and Solihull constituencies. John Hemming has already indicated concerns over EU competition law, and any MP can be persauded to vote against a bill if they feel there is strong local opposition to it. The Health bill does not form part of the coalition agreement so there is no reason for them to vote for it because of the coalition agreement.

What follows is simply a repost of the 38 degrees legal findings for you to read:

Background

In July 2011, 38 Degrees members donated to fund independent legal advice on the implications of the government’s proposals to change the NHS in England. 38 Degrees engaged Harrison Grant solicitors and the specialist barristers Stephen Cragg and Rebecca Haynes to give their legal opinions on two aspects of the Health and Social Care Bill: The removal of Secretary of State for Health’s Duty to provide or secure provision of NHS services and the impact of competition and procurement law on the NHS.

This document summarises some key findings. The full legal opinions and executive summaries are available to download in the right-hand column.

1. Removing the Secretary of State’s Duty to Provide

What our lawyers have identified within the Health and Social Care Bill:

The bill will remove the duty of the Secretary of State to provide or secure the provision of health services which has been a common and critical feature of all previous NHS legislation since 1946. This is the means by which Parliament ensures the NHS delivers what the public want and expect. Furthermore, a “hands-off clause” will severely curtail the Secretary of State’s ability to influence the delivery of NHS care to ensure everyone receives the best healthcare possible.

What this could all mean:

No longer a National Health Service
The duty, that Parliament has given the Health Secretary, for ensuring that the NHS provides the service that people need will be lost and the NHS will from here on in simply be little more than a series of quasi-independent commissioning entities and providers, basically free to get on with the job

Loss of Accountability – The Government washes its hands of the NHS
Removing the Secretary of State’s legal duty to provide or secure provision of health services, and introducing a “hands-off clause”, significantly reduces democratic accountability for the NHS. The responsibility for securing the provision of healthcare services will lie with unelected commissioners who will only be accountable to an unelected national quango. The bill will make it impossible for the Secretary of State to direct that certain services are available and difficult for the Secretary of State to step in if these groups deliver poor healthcare to the local community. These changes would shift the main responsibility to unelected officials, representatives of private companies and GPs.

Loss of Accountability – Local representatives and health watchdogs lose their right to appeal

Because the Government is removing the Secretary of State’s duty to ensure the NHS delivers an appropriate service, appeals from locally elected council bodies and health watchdogs will no longer be decided by the Secretary of State but – if any rights of appeal survive – by a national quango.

Postcode lottery
Because of changes in the bill there is a real risk of an increase in the “postcode lottery” nature of the delivery of some NHS services. The power to choose what health services are closed or improved in a local area will be passed on to local unelected bodies with little scope for the government to intervene. This will mean patients can no longer expect the government to ensure a consistent level of healthcare regardless of where they live.

2. Opening the NHS up to competition law

What our lawyers have identified within the Health and Social Care Bill:

The Bill contains a number of measures which will increase competition within the NHS at the expense of collaboration and integration and/or make it almost inevitable that UK and EU competition law will apply as if it were a utility like gas or telecoms. This includes:

■ giving Monitor the duty to eliminate so-called “anti-competitive” behaviour
■ removing the limit on the amount of income NHS hospitals can earn from private health services
■ handing significant new procurement responsibilities to the new Clinical Commissioning Groups
■ permitting these new groups to outsource commissioning work to private companies
■ writing additional rules on competition into the law and making Monitor enforce them

What this could all mean:

Exposing the NHS to UK and EU Competition Law

Taken together, these changes increase the likelihood of NHS services being found by the courts to fall within the scope of UK and EU competition law. The likelihood of this is further increased by other government NHS policies, for example the extension, announced in July 2011, of the right of Any Qualified Provider to be given a contract to deliver health services.

Costly and complex procurement procedures
The new commissioning groups will be subject to EU procurement rules whenthey commission local health services. This is likely to be costly, given the likely larger numbers of commissioning groups as compared to PCTs now and our Counsel warns that it appears the government have not planned for this significant increase in cost. Furthermore, it is not clear that the commissioning groups have the necessary procurement expertise to deal with the complex procurement process and to avoid legal action from disgruntled private healthcare providers. This could mean that the NHS ends up spending a lot of time and money fighting legal action instead of investing in patient care. Or worse, it could mean they are reluctant to commission any services for fear of being sued.

Fertile ground for private health companies (and their lawyers)
Companies that bid unsuccessfully for NHS contracts will be able to challenge commissioning decisions in the courts. Private health providers have far more expertise and legal capacity than either public bodies or charities, and so are likely to be best placed to exploit these laws. Litigation could be time-consuming and costly for commissioning bodies.

Opening our NHS to private companies – privatisation by stealth

These plans will lead to a system geared heavily in favour of private companies. The legislation does not currently contain measures to stop:

■ private companies being contracted to provide commissioning services to consortia and therefore profiting from spending multi-million-pound health budgets
■ private companies poaching services in a way which undermines the ability of the NHS to deliver essential services like Intensive Care Units, A&E, emergency cover, teaching, training and research.

Leave a comment

Filed under News

Report from Public Meeting on May 26th

Around 100 people attended the public meeting, chaired by Sandra Carter from GMB, held by Birmingham Against the Cuts yesterday (26th may).

Jack Dromey – Labour MP for Erdington – was the first speaker, and he spoke about a broad range of cuts happening around the region due to the £212million council budget cuts this year.  He talked about cuts to social care, telling us about meeting some people who were going to have their care withdrawn and how “the stories were truly heartbreaking”.  He also mentioned the victory in the court which should prevent some of the care being withdrawn for now at least.

Amongst other cuts he mentioned the closure of Advantage West Midlands, saying

It is an act of economic madness to abolish an organisation that for every £1 invested produced £8.14 in wealth

His sternest vitriol was reserved for the bankers, who continue to profit at the expense of ordinary people, and the coalition administrations both nationally and in Birmingham.

He finished calling for people to fight back, particularly against the idea that there is no alternative (that he has dubbed TINA) and the kick them out – of Birmingham in 2012 and national government in 2015.

The next speaker was Doug Morgan from NUT, filling in for Alex Kenny.  Doug spoke passionately about the ballot for strike action and the need for a yes vote, citing strikes in Tower Hamlets and Camden which have won small victories recently.

He spoke of the need to continue action against the government and said that

March 26th was not the end of the movement.  It was the beginning of the end of this government

He said that the 3oth June being a huge strike, and that it was important to call for a larger movement on the day, and that he is expecting to see 10,000 people on the streets of Birmingham.

The NUT will be balloting on pensions, and Doug debunked some myths about “gold=plated” public sector pensions.. I think he said that the average was around £4,000 / year (Doug, I hope you read this and can let me know if I’ve remembered wrong because for some reason I didn’t write this down!).. and told us that these pensions – which he described as ok, were the only thing holding private sector pensions (“rubbish”)  up at all – if public sector workers pensions are reduced there will be less pressure on the private sector to keep theirs where they are, let alone make them better.

He also said that attacks on public servants were attacks on public services and so everyone should support the strikes, and called for unity between the private and public sectors.

David Hughes from Unison was next up, talking about the upcoming ballot for strike action over contract changes at Birmingham City Council.

This council is intending to slash and burn council services in this city

The ballot will be over contract changes that will cut away allowances for evening, night and weekend shift work, meaning that some workers will lose 1/3rd of their pay.  Library assistants for instance, will lose £2,700/year.

There are also changes which will allow the council to place someone at any job within their paygrade, no matter what the location or times of work.

He said the cuts would be devastating and quoted a union member who told Unison

Me losing this money will mean me losing my home

Unison are balloting for strike on the 30th June

There was then a slight break in speakers as Pete Duffy, treasurer for Birmingham Against the Cuts made an appeal for donations to help us pay for the meeting, and for the production of leaflets in the run up to June 30th.  You can find out how to donate on our website here

Vici Whittall was next up.  She works for PCS at the admin office for the West Midlands regional prison service and she spoke about the privatisation of the prison.  Birmingham and Featherstone prisons are going to be outsourced to G4S — a private firm.

Pensions under threat, no pay rise for two years and now we’re being privatised

She also said that more prisons are to be market-tested – a process where the prison bids against private sector companies to provide the service.

They will also be balloting for strike action on 30th June – over pensions as part of PCS, rather than over the privatisation of the prison service I think.

On 30th June we will be demonstrating alongside striking workers – see our facebook event

The final speaker was Dr John Lister from Health Emergency, who spoke passionately about the fight to save the NHS, mentioning the 700 bed job losses that we demonstrated about on Monday as well as other cuts around the country.

we were told … they were going to ringfence and protect the NHS.  Nothing could be further from the truth

£20bn “efficiency savings” means cuts of 4% every year for 4 years – something that Dr Lister said had never been done anywhere in the world.  He also told us that the chair of Monitor (a new organisation setup to promote competition within the NHS) has said he thinks it will need to be £30bn.

He also told us of cuts to community mental health care in Hackney and Tower Hamlets, where 50% of staff – 100 posts – are going to go.  Of those 100 posts, 8 are admin or managerial – 92 are frontline job cuts. He described this as a

Brutal, vicious cut that will wreck the lives of vulnerable people

He spoke of how cuts to backroom staff took away the people the frontline staff need support from to be able to do their jobs.

Amongst other cuts he mentioned that Primary Care Trusts want to cut hospital usage by 15% (with A+E usage wanting to drop by 40%!).

Alongside the cuts is Lansleys health bill. and Dr Lister sums up his feelings to that by saying

I don’t want to see Lansley’s bill substantially changed, I want to see it substantially in the bin, along with Lansley

A new campaign has been launched by people put in touch by 38 degrees for our area – Save our NHS West Midlands.  I think many people will be taking action on the NHS – we had a demo on monday, and tomorrow, UK Uncut have a national day of action, with an event in happening in Birmingham at 11am.
I’m sure there will be lots of activity from plenty of groups over the forthcoming months as we seek to kill the bill and stop the cuts that will wreck our NHS.

There was then an unfortunately short time for people to speak from the floor (I’m not sure exactly why but it seems there was some miscommunication between us and the council house as to what time the meeting was to end).  Charlie Friel spoke of the connexions strikes, saying they had reduced redundancies from 70 to 35 and stopped compulsory redundancies.

Bob Williams-Findlay from Disabled People Against the Cuts spoke about the attacks of the condem government:

They are creating a new victorina era, where if you can pay you live, if you can’t you die

Richard Hatcher spoke of the attack on the education system from academies, saying that this was a strategy to privatise the education system.

Finally, Simon Furze spoke of the demonstration on 18th September at the Liberal Democrat party conference in Birmingham, that it will be a regional demonstration built with the support of anti-cuts groups from around the West Midlands.

If you wanted to say something but were unable to, please make a comment on this post and I’ll link it up on facebook 🙂

Sorry for the lack of pictures..

3 Comments

Filed under Events, Meeting

Final speaker list for tomorrows meeting

FIGHTING  THE  CUTS

Speakers:

JOHN LISTER  on fighting Lansley’s Health Bill and the dismemberment of the NHS

ALEX KENNY on fighting the proposals to make workers work longer and pay more for a lower pension

VICI WHITALL & BRIAN CLARKE on fighting the plans to privatise Birmingham prison

CAROLINE JOHNSON on fighting the imposition of the new ‘Martini’ contract which would dramatically worsen pay and conditions

JACK DROMEY MP on the Labour Party’s Alternative

Chair: Sandra Carter GMB Union

plus discussion from the floor

7.30 pm

Tomorrow, The Council Chamber, Birmingham Council House, Victoria Square

Facebook Event

Leave a comment

Filed under Events, Meeting

Save the NHS Demonstration at QE Hospital

Around 30 people were able to make it to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham to demonstrate about the cuts the NHS is facing.

This demonstration was called on Saturday following the front page news story from Birmingham Mail that 700 beds are going to be lost from hospitals around Birmingham and Solihull as trusts seek to find “efficiency savings” (remember, the NHS budget is ringfenced!).

The QE Hospital is facing 17% budget cuts, which will lead to the reduction of admissions and outpatient appointments by 3,000 and 37,000 respectively.

Elsewhere, the Heart of England trust is cutting 20% of jobs (1,600 posts), and Sandwell and Dudley trust is facing £12m cuts.

Birmingham Mail have posted a video report of the demo

The NHS faces challenges from both budgetary cuts and the Health bill whose reforms open the NHS up to private companies coming in to make profits from taxpayers and move it a huge step towards being fully privatised.  The Blood Service is already facing part-privatisation, and had originally been proposed to be fully privatised.

The tories will privatise the NHS if they can, but we can stop them.  There are two events coming up concerning the NHS that could go to, and we are hearing of a local campaign being setup by members of 38Degrees, which we hope to have more news on soon..

On Thursday, John Lister from Health Emergency will be talking about the campaign to Save The NHS at our public meeting in Birmingham

On Saturday, UK Uncut have called a national day of action titled “Emergency Operation: Transform the Banks, Save the NHS” to draw attention to the cuts and the Health Bill reforms that will end what we currently know the NHS to be. In Birmingham, the meeting point is 11am, by Waterstones, near the Bull Statue.

3 Comments

Filed under Cuts, Events