RESIST THE BREAKUP OF THE NHS THROUGH PRIVATISATION AND CUTS!
BRIEF UPDATE April 2018
(N.B. This site is not currently being regularly updated. )
FOR COMING EVENTS, MEETINGS AND OTHER INFORMATION
SEE BELOW AND THE MAIN SSONHS WEBSITE
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The government's increasingly desperate attempts to defend their record on the NHS have become less and less credible over the last year. This is partly due to increasingly effective local and national campaigns and partly to the crisis in hospitals, primary care and social care has forced more and more of those involved to speak out against the damage being caused by austerity. But many of those who are being damaged have no voice. Poor people, disabled people and the chronically ill have fewer opportunities to make their case as their benefit and treatment rights become eroded. NHS staff are generally gagged in one way or another. Exit can be the only escape leaving the NHS still weaker and now less and less able to recruit staff from overseas.
Large national demonstrations and industrial action by junior doctors, nurses and others have made the strength of feeling around the country quite clear, to the extent that even the Conservatives have got worried enough to promise the outlines of a new financial deal this summer. But will it be too late? Certainly it will be insufficient to undo the damage inflicted since 2010. Meanwhile the stress on services which affect the need for healthcare becomes more and more acute. The unspupported costs of Social Care (which is subject to means tested charges) is driving local authorities to bankruptcy.
Another threat is the developing reorganisation into Integrated Care Systems (previously known as Accountable Care Systems) which threaten to become Accountable Care Organisations. In our local area the Integrated Care System covers Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster and Bassetlaw as well as Sheffield. (See posts below.) Increasing pressure from campaigners and within the Labour Party is deterring local councils to sign up to these in case they become vehicles for further cuts and privatisation.
Across South Yorkshire resistance is building to the threatened implications of the ICS for local services and South Yorkshire Save Our NHS have formed a political party to stand in the Sheffield City Region Mayoral election on May 3rd 2018. See also Barnsley Save Our NHS.
THE NHS IS NOT KILLED OFF YET. Campaigning does work whether on the streets, in the press or, increasingly in the lawcourts. The government's high-handed tactics are being subjected to an increasing number of judicial reviews. At national level these have forced a public consultation on Accountable Care Organisations starting in May 2018.
Cartoons by Samantha Galbraith @sgalbraith47
For more national information see Health Campaigns Together and Keep Our NHS Public
April 14th 2018 11.45 Regional Demonstration to Save the NHS Leeds
April 25th Soviet Healthcare via Targets: Are Governments Bringing it into the NHS? Roco 2pm or 7pm
April 28th Sheffield Demonstration against proposed closure of the Minor Injuries and Walk-in Centres (see main website for details)
June 27th The NHS is 70 - but what is its life expectancy? Festival of Debate / SSONHS panel discussion and social. Roco 7pm - 11 pm.
June 30th Health Campaigns Together march for the NHS in London See main wesbite for details.
SSONHS planning and information meetings are generally on the first Monday of the month, except for bank holidays. They are usually at 6pm at the United Reform Church. Chapel Walk/Norfolk St S1
To contact us email email@example.com
In 2016 abnd 2017 we worked with Sheffield Festival of Debate and other colleagues to promote realistic discussion of the issues facing the NHS. On 4th May 2017 we had a lively meeting debating the future of hospitals and in 2016 we mounted an exhibition on NHS privatisation to coincide with a play, A DUTY OF CARE about Labour and the healthcare market. On 22nd November 2016 we held a panel-led debate on the future of the NHS with local NHS leaders, academics and campaigners. We also held a public meeting on 4th July 2016 to celebrate the NHS anniversary, discuss the STPs, the implications for privatisation in South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire and the consequences of the EU referendum result.
In March 2016 we held a successful workshop Taking Back Our NHS
We supported the Junior Doctors throughout their action because we felt they were being unfairly treated and were being treated as the advance guard for Hunt's uncosted, unfunded and misconceived ambition for a 7 day NHS. (For one of our supporter's views at the beginning of the dispute see this column in the Sheffield Star http://tinyurl.com/oo8qoc3)
For our questions to 2017 General Election candidates and canvassers about the NHS see our website campaign page
2016 8th-22nd November Exhibition on NHS privatisation How come we didn't know by London photographer Marion Macalpine
Theatre Delicatessen, The Moor
22nd November SSONHS Festival of Debate event Why is the NHS Under so much pressure? How can we save it for future generations?
Speakers included Dr Tim Moorhead, Chair, Sheffield CCG, Kevan Taylor (Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust) and Professor Sarah Salway (University of Sheffield, Public Health) + local campaigners
Taking Back Our NHS SSONHS workshop
Saturday 12th March 2016, 10am - 2pm
Campaigning for GP practices at risk of closure
2nd July Successful SSONHS public meeting addressed by Ray Tallis and speakers from Devonshire Green and Unison.
2nd May SSONHS stall in city centre from 11.30 Come and see us.The 38 degrees ambulance will also be in Surrey Street at 12pm and conveying the 38 degrees petitions to local Hallam candidates at Wesley Hall in Crookes for 3pm.
25th April - March through Sheffield Hallam, with the People's NHS and 38 degrees
28th February 38 degrees petitioning around Sheffield http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/health/local-health/campaigners-take-to-sheffield-streets-in-fight-to-save-nhs-1-7132981
22nd November Leafleting in Sheffield City Centre from 12.00 pm in support of the NHS strikers. For A5 and A4 copies of the leaflet which has more information on it see the Campaigns Page at our website
24th November NHS picket lines from 7am to 11am. Rallies at the Hallamshire and Northern General (Herries Road) at 10 am.
24th JULY 2014 Public Meeting jointly with Sheffield Medsin
We were proud to support the Jarrow to London march for the NHS, organised by Darlington Mums passing through Sheffield on August Bank Holiday Monday. http://999callfornhs.org.uk/ Thanks to everyone for helping and joining in.
Is our NHS really in crisis? Behind the headlines and soundbites
Panel discussion led by GPs and health experts from the NHS and universities.
For past activities see our website www.sheffieldsaveournhs.co.uk
Tuesday, 29 November 2011
The Occupation movement is one response, as is the Day of Action. At a national level the unions seem to have handled this quite well, co-ordinating action and resisting the Coalition's carrots and sticks. Unfortunately the local response is more chaotic. At a well attended rally on 10th November, addressed by Mark Serwotka among others, it was announced that pickets and events in the morning would be be followed by a rally at 12 then a march round the city centre. A lot of people and organisations made their arrangements accordingly. Then suddenly on 27th Nov an email came round from the regional TUC in Leeds saying that Unison, Unite and GMB had decided this novel approach (rally then march) would not work and the march would now start from Devonshire Green at 11 though the rally would still be at 12. This last minute change (as far as I can see because local union leaders couldn't see beyond a conventional format) has wrecked a number of other arrangements for the day. There has been too little open communication locally and it is almost as if the local leadership don't think (or maybe want) too many people to be involved. If we are to put up an effective fight for public services locally, we must have a clearer and more confident leadership. We hope that the turnout for 30th Nov, despite the confusion, will encourage more people to make a stand.
Monday, 7 November 2011
This thread is for comments and information relating to Occupy Sheffield and its links with SSONHS. We will be discussing this at our meeting on 14th November - with the possibility of organising an event to be held at the occupation site. The occupiers are happy to display material relating to the preservation of our National Health Service. SSONHS supporters are encouraged to go down and meet the occupiers and to offer whatever help they can.
Please contibute information or comments to this thread.
For more information see http://www.occupysheffield.org.uk/
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Many Liberal Democrats (including Lady Williams) voted against Lord Rea's proposal to reject the Bill and 60 voted against Lord Owen's proposal for a Select Committee. The only excuse was that it would put certain amendments in the hands of a smaller group when many peers wanted to have a say.
10 days of debate have been provisionally allocated for debate lasting until 19th December. Labour offered to guarantee this date if Lord Owen's amendment was accepted. If not, they said they would be pressing hard (along with many Lib Dems) for more time to be allocated for debate. The Third Reading of the Bill will be expected in mid January, when it will return to the Commons to consider amendments agreed by the Lords.
The debate will now become quite technical but it seems likely that the main principles of the Bill will remain and successful amendments are more likely to be in the form of damage limitation.
Local implementation of cuts, changes, transfers etc. will need to be resisted by all means possible, from demanding consultations, participation in consultation over changes to make objections clear, and then whatever other action may be necessary to protect services. Broad public action protesting against the Bill will need to continue.
Friday, 7 October 2011
Resist the first wave of privatisation masquerading as Patient Choice. Write to NHS Sheffield via the weblink below
From a list of eight possibilities suggested by the Department of Health (covering about £1 billion of NHS expenditure nationally), NHS Sheffield has selected two: Diagnostic Tests (such as ultrasound, MRI and CT Scans) closer to home; and Physiotherapy Services to treat back and neck pain. The short list is completed with the addition of three others: services to help with the self-management of Long Term Conditions; Community Chemotherapy, including home chemotherapy; Dementia Care/ Memory Services.
Although some of the services selected could be provided or differently or are new approaches, the money will be going out of the public purse often to large profit making companies who can offer the best economies. The government claims that there will be cost savings, but these will be achieved through poorer working conditions or sometimes even because regulations are biased towards the private sector.
The whole scheme is fraught with dangers. By and large patients want a good service, not a lot of complicated choices. For most of us it is hard enough to decide whether to have a particular treatment, let alone who is going to provide it. There is also an increasing risk that doctors will have conflicts of interest because they have financial interests in local providers or may even want to offer services from their own surgeries for a fee. If Lansley’s reforms weren’t looming over everyone, it might be easier to do some limited experiments especially around home-based services, but this is the thin end of the wedge. We must write in now with our protests.
Wednesday, 5 October 2011
The signatories include Professor Sir Michael Marmot, the author of several reports on the links between wealth and health that suggest children born into poverty are penalised for life. Marmot has until now not been openly critical of the coalition's approach, and instead has offered encouragement for David Cameron and Andrew Lansley's apparent enthusiasm for public health.
But Marmot and others in senior positions have now concluded the bill will damage all aspects of the health service. "While we welcome the emphasis placed on establishing a closer working relationship between public health and local government, the proposed reforms as a whole will disrupt, fragment and weaken the country's public health capabilities," says the letter.
"The government claims that the reforms have the backing of the health professions. They do not. Neither do they have the general support of the public." The letter details the harms the experts believe the health reform bill will do.
"It ushers in a significantly heightened degree of commercialisation and marketisation that will lead to the harmful fragmentation of patient care; aggravate risks to individual patient safety; erode medical ethics and trust within the healthcare system; widen health inequalities; waste much money on attempts to regulate and manage competition; and undermine the ability of the health system to respond effectively and efficiently to communicate disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies," the letter says.
In their judgment, the signatories say, the bill "will erode the NHS's ethical and co-operative foundations" and "will not deliver efficiency, quality, fairness or choice". The signatories include around 40 directors of public health from around the country who have taken the difficult decision to go public with their concerns. There are also two senior members of the Faculty of Public Health, one of whom, Dr John Middleton, is a vice-president. Other well-known names include Professor John Ashton, director of public health in Cumbria, and Professor Michel Coleman from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.
Dr David McCoy, consultant in public health medicine at the Inner North West London primary care trust, one of the organisers of the letter, said he was surprised at the number of people prepared to sign. "I think if we had continued to collect signatures, I'm quite sure we would have collected another 200 It is having a snowball effect," he said. "I think the feeling is incredibly strong."
There was a lot of debate about whether we should call for outright rejection or amendments, but there is a feeling the whole package of reforms is harmful and we need to express our position in the strongest terms. I think there was a feeling the forthcoming reading in the House of Lords is the last chance of minimising the harm and damage."
The public health community has not spoken out in this way before. "I think there has been an attempt to work with the reforms and work behind the scenes to optimise the proposed reforms," said Dr McCoy.
Dr Middleton said there was no great opposition to the planned move to place public health services such as smoking cessation within local authorities. "But the letter is a recognition from the public health community that the reforms proposed around the NHS are deeply damaging to the public health in themselves," he said. There was concern that they would lead to inequalities in healthcare and less access for the poorest and most deprived to the services they need.
"The experience of other countries that have 'liberated' their health systems has resulted in very poor health services for their communities. I'm thinking of Russia and China where a free market in health resulted in major falls in life expectancy and systems that had provided some safety net cover have failed," he said.
Commenting on the letter, published in the Daily Telegraph on the eve of health secretary Andrew Lansley's address to the Tory party conference, shadow health secretary John Healey said: "David Cameron is in denial, both about the damage his plans are doing to the NHS and the strength of opposition to his health bill.
"There is no mandate for the bill, either from the election or the coalition agreement. With the government having railroaded its plans through the Commons, heavy responsibility is now going to be shouldered by the Lords."
Monday, 26 September 2011
We were asked to comment by Radio Sheffield early on Monday morning, but nobody was available to make an instant response. Our comments would have included:
- NHS staff are under enormous pressure, not least because of the current reform proposals and the efficiency cuts. The idea of asking relatives to provide more help is not new but it is absolute nonsense to suggest that relatives should be doing basic physical and nursing care tasks for hospital patients.
- Most relatives who are able to visit are probably only too willing to do some extra so that their loved ones are comfortable. But that is extra - not providing the basics. Families are under pressure too - the demands of modern life are already stressful but the government is adding to them by reducing benefits and allowances, forcing parents to look for work even when there are few jobs available, and encouraging people to be mobile. Working days are getting longer again and people may have much further to go. Hospitals can be expensive to visit in terms of rising bus fares and parking fees. To add an expectation that relatives should spend more time in hospital visits makes one question what officials think hospital 'care' is all about. It breaks some of the basic understandings about the NHS.
- There are real issues about the differentiation between nursing care and the work of less well paid health care assistants. First we have health care assistants often feeling forced to do work which is beyond their job description in order to cope with a lack of nurses; then we have relatives being asked to do the work of health care assistants for free. It is a disgrace.
Tuesday, 30 August 2011
Supporters of 38 degrees have funded a legal opinion on two aspects of the Bill /- the Secretary of State's responsibility, and the competition provisions. You can see the results at http://blog.38degrees.org.uk. "Effectively, the duty to provide a national health service would be lost if the Bill becomes law. It would be replaced by a duty on an unknown number of commissioningconsortia with only a duty to make or arrange provision for that section of the populationfor which it is responsible. Although some people will see this as a good thing, it iseffectively fragmenting a service that currently has the advantage of national oversightand control, and which is politically accountable via the ballot box to the electorate."
On competition the opinion states " It appears however that the government has simply failed to grapple with the front line issues in procurement, has wholly underestimated the increasing rather than diminishing complexity in the area and has had no or perhaps little regard tothe administrative and financial burdens arising from the regime."
An email from Nick Clegg's office to one of our members states "As you know, the Health and Social Care Bill is due to have its report stage and third reading on 6th and 7th September 2011. At this point the Liberal Democrats will continue to look to protect an NHS that is universal, based on need and free at the point of use. This is a clear priority for the party and a clear priority for Nick."
Lib Dem MPs should be told that the removal of the Secretary of State's duty to provide a comprehensive health service means that the service can no longer be universal and therefore the Bill should be voted down.
JOIN THE MARCH ON 3rd Sept and the vigil on the 6th Sept. Lobby your MPs especially if they are Lib Dems.
Thursday, 28 July 2011
The Bill finished its second committee stage before the recess, with the Coalition using its majority to get its amendments through. It will return to the Commons on 6th September for report with a vote on 7th September and then be passed through to the Lords.
Meanwhile Andrew Lansley published the government's first response http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Consultations/Responsestoconsultations/DH_125442 .
This document instructs PCTs to consult about "extending choice" for 8 services, of which each PCT is to choose 3. This is to be done during September/October. Details of this instruction are in the operational guidance - http://www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/documents/digitalasset/dh_128462.pdf
The Bill is not a done deal and Evan Harris, a doctor and former Lib Dem MP who led the opposition at the Lib Dem Conference, says that despite concessions in the small print, the core privatisation principle remains. Let's hope the Lib Dems can still be persuaded to vote against it - not to mention the Lords. Pressure on MPs and peers must be maintained. The Bill can still be defeated in the Commons if all the opposition MPs vote against it.
38 degrees now have funding to examine the legal issues in much more detail and will be reporting on this soon.
Wednesday, 6 July 2011
Friday, 17 June 2011
At our public meeting on 3rd May, people posted up details of hospital ward closures or bed reductions (elderly care, urology, rheumatology) and cuts to services like midwifery, cataract operations and intensive care rehabilitation.
The mental health services are under particular threat, with proposed losses in psychiatry and the community response team.
For several months two care homes for people with dementia have been running a campaign against closure. A report to NHS Sheffield this month said that not a single response to their consultation had supported closure. The Council's Health Scrutiny Committee said it would refer any closure to the Secretary of State. As a result NHS Sheffield has been preparing other options and a final decision will be taken on 5th July.
At our meeting on 13th June, we agreed that although an amended Bill may not be as obviously life threatening to the NHS as the original version, there is every likelihood that that fudged wording will enable a lot of Lansley's original agenda to go through. Also it seems to be increasingly obvious that many of the changes don't actually make much practical sense on the ground - the whole thing is becoming infinitely more complex than the PCT system we have now, and seems likely to grind to a halt. Apart from anything else the argument that trying to reorganise from root to branch while imposing heavy cuts (efficiency or otherwise) is a recipe for disaster. The battle to save the NHS is not over, and the biggest danger may be if Lib Dems (especially) want to congratulate themselves on securing amendments, and let the Bill slide through.
The Bill must be scrapped, not amended.
There are a host of comments available and bloggers might want to contribute the links they find most helpful. Wendy Savage's latest comments are at
http://www.opendemocracy.net/ourkingdom/wendy-savage/saving-nhs-fight-goes-on . See also
We need to ensure that the Bill is kept in the news by continuing active protest, exposing its growing contradictions and dangers and keeping up pressure on MPs. Keep up with the 38 degrees campaign, keep writing to the papers, contribute to radio through phone-ins - etc etc. Come to our meetings and actions.
So please register and contribute and let's see how we go.
Saturday, 14 May 2011
The senior doctor leading a review into the Government's health service reforms has warned they could "destroy essential services".
Professor Steve Field is the chairman of the NHS Future Forum - the group set up to examine the changes.
He said that proposals by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley to increase competition within the health service would be "destabilising".
"If you had a free market, that would destroy essential services in very big hospitals but also might destroy the services that need to be provided in small hospitals," he said.
"The risk in going forward (with the Bill) as it is, is (of) destabilising the NHS at a local level. It would lead to some hospitals not being able to continue as they are."
One of David Cameron’s most senior health advisers told a conference of health executives that the NHS will be privatised, advising representatives from healthcare companies of an impending goldrush in the wake of Andrew Lansley’s health reforms.
Mark Britnell was NHS director general for commissioning and system management before joining the private sector as global head of health at KPMG. He was recently appointed to a new panel of senior health policy experts by David Cameron, attending their first meeting last week.
According to the public relations industry monitoring site Spinwatch Britnell did not mince his words on privatisation when addressing a seminar called “Reform Revolution” at a conference for healthcare corporations: