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Tuesday 16th January 2018

PRESS RELEASE – for immediate use

  • Wigan, Trafford, Manchester: NHS crisis protests demand “Fix it now”

    Protesters around Greater Manchester are organising a series of demonstrations demanding action to fix the NHS crisis now. Lobbies outside meetings this month of politicians at borough and Greater Manchester level will culminate in local campaigners travelling to London to join the “Fix it now” demonstration there on Sat 3 February.

    Protesters are demanding an immediate increase in funding together with a reversal of the costly wasteful privatisation and marketisation measures by successive governments that drain NHS funding away from where it should be spent. They are writing to politicians in advance of the protests to demand answers (see for example letter at end sent to Trafford councillors by local campaigners there).

    The protests are organised by Greater Manchester Keep Our NHS Public, for which spokesperson Pia Feig said:

    Greater Manchester residents have been left to face this winter with an inadequate NHS, which some of its senior practitioners have warned us, is a dangerous service to use. We already know that the welcomed decline in mortality rates in Greater Manchester, between 2001 and 2010, has now been reversed (significantly because of a lack of nurses.)

    Long term public service recruitment and incomes policies have left our local hospitals and clinics seriously understaffed, with desperately tired staff trying to cover for vacant posts. GPs and primary care staff are severely overstretched, not being able to keep up with their increasing responsibilities for the health of residents, whilst receiving inadequate funding to do so.

    The privatisation of social care has left our elderly population, who need residential support and home care, to the vagaries of the market: many private care homes have been deemed inadequate or in need of improvement, whilst others are closing their doors to those in need. Yet 3.5% of hospital beds in Greater Manchester are needed by people who cannot receive adequate personal care at home.

    And now all the thousands of people who were waiting for their operations in early 2018, often in great pain and distress, have been told that they will have to wait even longer. The NHS is not there for them in their time of need-surely a denial of the basic principle of NHS!

    This crisis is not the result of a sudden epidemic: it is the result of year on year decisions, to cut the number of hospital beds in the Greater Manchester; to restrict training for nurses, particularly community nursing posts and to make the NHS absorb inflationary pressure – especially from PFI scheme payments for all the new buildings in primary and secondary health care.

    So what are Greater Manchester’s politicians going to do about it?

    Details of protests:

    Wigan: Friday 19 January, Wigan town hall (time TBC)

    Trafford: Tuesday, 23rd January 6.30 pm, Trafford Town Hall, Talbot Road Stretford M32 0TH

    Manchester: Tuesday 30 January, 10am Manchester town hall

    PRESS RELEASE ENDS HERE

    LETTER TO TRAFFORD COUNCILLORS FOLLOWS BELOW

    NHS in Crisis: Fix It Now!

    Councillor Joanne Harding,                                                                                     14th January 2018

    Chair of Trafford Health Scrutiny Committee

    You are charged with overseeing the decisions of the bodies that run our health and social care systems, that they are made in the best interests of Trafford residents.

    However we in Trafford, along with all other Greater Manchester residents, have been left to face this winter with an inadequate NHS, which some of its senior practitioners have warned us, is a dangerous service to use. We already know that the welcomed decline in mortality rates in Greater Manchester, between 2001 and 2010, has now been reversed (- significantly because of a lack of nurses.)

    Long term public service recruitment and incomes policies have left our local hospitals and clinics seriously understaffed, with desperately tired staff trying to cover for vacant posts. GPs and primary care staff are severely overstretched, not being able to keep up with their increasing responsibilities for the health of Trafford residents, whilst receiving inadequate funding to do so.

    The privatisation of social care has left our elderly population, who need residential support and home care, to the vagaries of the market: many private care homes in Trafford have been deemed inadequate or in need of improvement, whilst others are closing their doors to those in need. Yet 3.5% of hospital beds in Greater Manchester are needed by people who cannot receive adequate personal care at home.

    And now all the thousands of people who were waiting for their operations in early 2018, often in great pain and distress, have been told that they will have to wait even longer. The NHS is not there for them in their time of need-surely a denial of the basic principle of NHS!

    This crisis is not the result of a sudden epidemic: it is the result of year on year decisions, to cut the number of hospital beds in the Greater Manchester; to restrict training for nurses, particularly community nursing posts and to make the NHS absorb inflationary pressure – especially from PFI scheme payments for all the new buildings in primary and secondary health care.

    We ask you..what are you and your Committee going to do about it?

    Will you


    • make public the cost of the crisis to Trafford residents - in delayed health and social care?
    • publicly call on the government to end the winter crisis with a cash injection to restore the NHS budget ?
    • support the call on the government to end the cap on NHS pay now?

    Yours sincerely

    Pia G Feig

    Old Trafford Resident


PRESS RELEASE

  • NORTHERN “HEALTH CAMPAIGNS TOGETHER” CONFERENCE Sat. 20th January

    Health campaigners across the north will be gathering in Leeds on January 20th to discuss how to end the crisis in the NHS – and not just this winter!

    11- 4:30pm at St George’s Centre, Great George St, LEEDS, LS1 3BR (next to old LGI)

    The current crisis was entirely predictable after eight years of frozen real terms funding given that cost pressures have risen annually by 4%. 8,000 front line beds and 20% of mental health beds have gone, there are 40,000 unfilled nursing posts, increasing problems recruiting and retaining GPs, and staff under huge pressure to fill gaps and make do.

    At the new year more than half of acute hospitals had at least 95% of their beds full when a safe level is below 85%.

    Ambulances are queuing up outside A&E unable to deliver patients needing treatment and cuts to social care mean beds cannot be freed up by discharging those patients on the road to recovery but not yet able to look after themselves.

    We will be hearing from campaigners defending services such as Glenfield Heart Unit, Leicester, Rothbury Hospital in Northumbria, Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, and Liverpool Women’s Hospital, to name a few.

    Afternoon workshops will focus on building effective campaigns against cuts and closures, galvanising Labour activists and working with councillors and MPs to challenge government policy, resisting the further fragmentation of services through the implementation of US style accountable care systems, supporting beleaguered and underpaid health workers, and putting a stop to the outsourcing of facilities staff.

    As we break for lunch at 12.30 we are planning to go outside with banners and placards for a photograph outside the LGI.

    There will then be plenty of opportunity to interview health workers and leading NHS campaigners from across the country.    

    The news regarding the NHS may be grim but on Saturday there will be huge enthusiasm and fighting spirit in the St. George’s Centre. This is a great opportunity for press and media to show that many people are organising to defend our NHS and demonstrating that change is not only essential but eminently possible.

    Dr. John Puntis, from ‘Doctors for the NHS’                          T. 07907 089152

    Mike Forster, Chair of ‘Hands off HRI’, Huddersfield          T. 07887 668740

    Gilda Peterson, ‘Leeds Keep our NHS Public’                       T. 07419 295754 

Thursday 11th January 2018

Alex Scott Samuel

  • Liverpool NHS campaigners demo against unAccountable don'tCare System

    NHS campaigners will demonstrate at the Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board today (Thursday 11 January), against moves to establish an Accountable Care System, a model developed in the US and Spain.

    The plans have developed in secret, and will be presented to the Board meeting.

    “The government is introducing Accountable Care to impose £22 billion in cuts to the NHS annual budget over the next 3 years,” said Public Health academic Dr Alex Scott-Samuel. “Councillors should refuse to co-operate with these plans, which will lead to further NHS cuts, rationing of services and almost certainly to privatisation.”

    Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt faces a Judicial Review to stop NHS England from introducing new commercial, non-NHS bodies to run health and social services without proper public consultation and without full Parliamentary scrutiny.

    Cosmologist and NHS patient Prof Stephen Hawking is one of the claimants.

    A separate JR targets the ACO model contract as unlawful.

    Councillors declared opposition to the Cheshire & Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation

    Plan, which mentioned Accountable Care repeatedly along with a £1bn reduction in the annual

    regional NHS budget, on 1 December 2016.

    But last summer, the Council began work on an Integrated Care Partnership Group, designed to develop an Accountable Care System. Planning meetings were not open to the public.

    Nine Merseyside Labour MPs are amongst 116 supporting Early Day Motion 660, sponsored by

    Jeremy Corbyn, which calls for a Parliamentary debate on Accountable Care.

    Labour Party policy, adopted unanimously in September, opposes Accountable Care Systems outright.

Friday 29th December 2017

New Year message

  • The fight we must wage for our NHS in 2018

    John Lister, Editor, Health Campaigns Together

    In 1988, the year of the 40th anniversary of the NHS, the main danger to its future was Margaret Thatcher’s government, driving cuts in spending, closures of beds, privatisation of support services, and smashing up and privatising the social care system.

    30 years later, with another right wing Tory Prime Minister, as the NHS heads towards its 70th birthday on July 5, it faces the most deadly combination yet:


    • A sustained 7-year freeze on real terms funding as costs rise and the population grows, has brought the closure of 8,000 front line hospital beds and over 20% of mental health beds since 2010. Beds were already running at near 100% occupancy in hospitals 2 weeks into December: waiting lists are the longest-ever, waiting times are increasing and cash-strapped trusts are missing performance targets.
    • Massive staff shortages put the quality and safety of services at risk: problems of recruitment and retention have been worsened by scrapping bursaries for training nurses and other professionals, and by the 8-year freeze or below-inflation cap on NHS pay increases.
    • The 2012 Health & Social Care Act increased pressure on local Clinical Commissioning Groups to put clinical services out to tender. Private companies like Virgin are willing to sue the NHS if they fail to win contracts.
    • Seven years of cuts in council spending since 2010 have reduced vital home care and nursing home services to a skeleton service restricted to those with most serious needs, leaving thousands of patients trapped in hospital beds for lack of support for them to return home.
    • NHS England, having given up on legislation to roll back the 2012 Act and allow them to reorganise services into 44 ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships’, are now embarked, supported by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, on the imposition of “new models of care” including “Accountable Care Systems” (ACSs) and “Accountable Care Organisations” (ACOs) – modelled on US systems designed to cut spending. Plans are advanced for the establishment of ACSs in the spring of 2018, with no parliamentary debate or public consultation. ACOs allow services to be carved up and contracted out to private sector organisations, which would not be in any way accountable or open to scrutiny from the local public.

    In other words services that don’t collapse as a result of cash starvation face the threat of privatisation: the freeze on funding is set to run at least till 2021, effectively reversing New Labour’s decade of investment, slashing spending levels to the lowest of any comparable economy.

    Health Campaigns Together – a coalition of campaigners and trade unions, supported by UNISON, Unite, the NEU and FBU – has fought back hard in 2017. In London on March 4, working with Peoples Assembly, we mobilised the biggest-ever demonstration in support of the NHS, tapping in to the anger over the worst winter crisis since Thatcher was in power.

    This march, and subsequent campaigning with our Election Special, social media and NHS Roadshow, helped shift the public mood, putting the NHS firmly on the political agenda. It helped to prevent Theresa May from securing the majority she expected in June’s general election.

    In November we brought together a massive conference in London, with over 400 activists and campaigners, discussing where we had got to, and how to work together in regions and at local level. In December a follow-up affiliates’ meeting called for three major mobilisations in 2018:


    • A day of action – regional and local events – on March 3, responding to the winter crisis and other local cuts, closures and threats of ACOs, and supporting the pay campaign being waged by the health unions.
    • Support for the TUC demonstration on workers’ rights on May 12 in London
    • A massive event in London on July 7 to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the NHS, but also demand it be fully funded and brought back fully into public ownership and control.

    Through these events and in the work for them, building links in every locality across England, Health Campaigns Together aims to build and strengthen a movement big enough and broad enough to shake and dislodge the weak and wobbly government – or at least block its worst policies and prevent damaging cuts.

    Against all the odds the NHS is still alive, delivering vital services to save lives and relieve pain, 70 years on: but its future cannot be secure until the cancer of privatisation is killed off, and the NHS is restored to a public service, funded from taxation, publicly provided, publicly accountable and free at point of use.

    To all those who share this aim in 2018 we wish you the happiest and most successful year of campaigning.

    We urge any who have not yet done so to join us by affiliating the Health Campaigns Together – and also to support the legal challenge to ACOs being mounted by JR4NHS: donate now to help reach the £144,000 target.

    Read more ...

Saturday 9th December 2017

Hawking joins Judicial Review v Jeremy Hunt

  • Tony O'Sullivan co-chair Keep Our NHS Public

    Latest news in battle against ‘Accountable Care’ threat to NHS

    Urgent: Help fund Round 2

    Professor Stephen Hawking has joined Dr Colin Hutchinson, Professor Allyson Pollock (co -author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill), Professor Sue Richards and Dr Graham Winyard in their joint intention to take Jeremy Hunt, secretary of State for Health in England, to judicial review.

    This is a critical challenge to the government’s attempt to circumvent Parliament and democratic scrutiny and to allow Accountable Care Organisations to operate in the NHS in England.

    Support the five complainants in this important action by donating to Round 2 of their funding appeal at CrowdJustice https://t.co/zbJWPOO53X

    With your help they will cover the potential legal costs.

    Since Round 1, lawyers for the Secretary of State for Health, and for NHS England (NHSE), have written to their solicitors, rejecting their arguments and stating that they will robustly defend any judicial review.

    The four (now five) complainants’ lawyers have studied these replies and have sent a further letter before action to both Hunt and NHSE.

    They expect to file proceedings in the court very shortly.

    Why Hawking has joined the JR application

    “I have been lucky to receive first-rate care from the NHS. It is a national institution, cherished by me and millions of others, and which belongs to all of us.

    "I am joining this legal action because the NHS is being taken in a direction which I oppose, as I stated in August, without proper public and parliamentary scrutiny, consultation and debate.

    “I am concerned that accountable care organisations are an attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS. They have not been established by statute, and they appear to be being used for reducing public expenditure, for cutting services and for allowing private companies to receive and benefit from significant sums of public money for organising and providing services.

    “I want the attention of the people of England to be drawn to what is happening and for those who are entrusted with responsibility for the NHS to account openly for themselves in public, and to be judged accordingly.”

    ‘What are we seeking and why?’ – team’s motivation for legal challenge

    We are seeking a judicial review to stop Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt and NHS England from introducing new commercial, non-NHS bodies to run health and social serviceswithout proper public consultation and without full Parliamentary scrutiny.

    These non-NHS bodies would be called Accountable Care Organisations” (ACOs). They would be governed by company and contract law and can be given “full responsibility” for NHS and adult social services.

    ACOs were conceived in the US about twelve years ago. ACOs are being imported into England although they are not recognised in any Act of Parliament.

    ACOs would be able to decide on the boundary of what care is free and what has to be paid for. They will be paid more if they save money. They can include private companies (e.g. Virgin in Frimley, Circle in Nottinghamshire), including private insurance and property companies, which can make money from charging.

    They could also include GP practices, in which case people on their lists would automatically transfer to the ACO in order to be entitled to services. New patients would also have to register with the ACO. They will be allowed to sub-contract all “their” services.

    Support this important challenge by donating at CrowdJustice here –

    https://t.co/zbJWPOO53X

     #JR4NHS

    In Round 1, £26,020 was raised in 26 hours, underpinning their lawyers’ work up to preparing the case for court.


    Read more ...

Thursday 7th December 2017

John Lister

  • Please ask your MP to sign this EDM from Jon Ashworth and Jeremy Corbyn

    Early day motion 660

    That this House notes

    • the Department of Health consultation on Accountable Care Organisations which closed on 3 November 2017, which proposes changes to regulations required to facilitate the operation of an NHS Standard Contract (Accountable Care Models);
    • further notes that the consultation states that the Government proposes to lay these regulations before Parliament in the New Year with the intention that they have legal effect from February 2018, subject to Parliamentary process;
    • notes that these changes will have far reaching implications for commissioning in the NHS, and that concerns have been raised that Accountable Care Organisations will encourage and facilitate further private sector involvement in the NHS, and about how the new organisations will be accountable to the public;
    • notes that the Health and Social Care Act 2012 opened up NHS commissioning to private sector interests;
    • notes that the NHS is experiencing the largest financial squeeze in its history and there are concerns that Accountable Care Organisations could be used as a vehicle for greater rationing of treatment locally;
    • and calls on the Government to provide parliamentary time for hon. Members to debate and vote on these proposed changes on the floor of the House.


    Read more ...

Monday 4th December 2017

Press release from Totnes Constituency Labour Party

  • 300 march against South Devon cuts

    On Saturday 2nd December more than 300 people marched through the streets of Totnes, sang alternative Christmas carols, and delivered a 'thank you' card to NHS staff at Totnes Community Hospital.

    The protest, organised by Save our Hospital Services and members of Totnes CLP, was joined by campaigners from across Devon, angry at the loss of 213 acute and community hospital beds in the county since 2015. The rally was the first item on BBC Spotlight's evening news.

    Campaigners pushed a hospital bed and carried a coffin to represent the 120,000 lives unnecessarily lost through health service cuts since the Tories came to power.

    A petition was carried, signed by over 4000 local residents, calling for a halt to hospital closures and privatization of care services.

    MP Sarah Wollaston was invited to receive this at the rally but declined to attend. She will be receiving it instead on Friday 8th December at her constituency office in Totnes.

    Saturday’s protest won the support of Jon Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health, who said in a statement:

    "Closing services and cutting beds because of government decisions to underfund the NHS is unacceptable. It's Jeremy Corbyn’s commitment that Devon should have the high quality NHS that patients need."

    Speakers included Devon County Councillors, members of Labour and the Green party, healthcare workers and representatives of Save Our Hospital Services and Keep Our NHS Public.

    The protest was also supported by Health Campaigns Together, whose co-chair Louise Irvine's statement said:

    "Your campaign is an inspiration to all around the country who are involved in similar struggles to defend vital NHS services. It is only when communities come together to defend their treasured NHS services that we have any chance of halting the dismantling and destruction of our NHS."

    Similar rallies were taking place at hospitals in four other counties, with messages of support for the Totnes rally arriving from as far afield as West Yorkshire and Essex.

    Totnes CLP continues to work with SOHS and other healthcare campaigns to defend NHS services across Devon. Members will be involved in handing over the petition to Sarah Wollaston MP at 2.30pm on Friday 8 December.

    Background

    Devon is one of 14 areas covered by NHS England's 'Capped Expenditure Programme, meaning it must find additional savings (rumoured to add up to as much as £500 million) over and above the current spending squeeze.

    These 14 areas are in the frontline for the new Accountable Care model, with the implication that large parts of our health and social care services could be privatised, and private corporations could for the first time oversee the management and purchasing of NHS services as well as providing them.

    Totnes CLP was at the forefront of the fight to save our four local community hospitals and Torbay Women’s ward. Unfortunately these have now closed, and this may be only the start.

    A leaked version of the county's Sustainability and Transformation Plan in 2016 included proposals to cut 590 beds overall, and to relocate acute services from Torbay and North Devon hospitals into Exeter and Plymouth.

    Despite a clinical review finding that lives would be at risk, and a reprieve for services inb North Devon, those proposals have not gone away. 

    Totnes CLP helped to draft Composite #8, passed overwhelmingly at the last Labour Conference, committing the Labour party to reinstate the NHS as a public service, free from marketisation, and fully accountable to local communities. 

    For more information contact: Helen Beetham, SOHS S Devon and Totnes CLP (07866 360329) or Peter McIlvern, Chair Totnes CLP (07955 730372)


    Read more ...

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