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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 in
creasingly 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 campaig
ners 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.

NHS21END_(Small)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


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

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


Tuesday 22nd September, 7pm screening of Sell Off, attended by well over 100 people.

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

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.

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. Thanks to everyone for helping and joining in.

24th JULY 2014 Public Meeting jointly with Sheffield Medsin

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

Thursday, 13 October 2011

HSC Bill in the House of Lords

The Bill was accepted for second reading in the House of Lords by a large majority after a debate in which nearly 100 peers spoke.  Most (even some Conservatives) were critical of the Bill.  Lord Tugendhat (a Conservative lawyer and judge) said it would have been sufficient to have used the 4% efficiency cuts as a lever of change instead of saddling the NHS with all these changes as well.

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

At Andrew Lansley's instructions, NHS Sheffield and the other South Yorkshire PCTs are running a consultation (lasting about 10 days) to find three community services to be put out to tender from Any Qualified Provider.   

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.

We urge people in South Yorkshire who oppose the privatisation of the NHS by stealth to tell the PCTs what they think on or before 12th October by using the South Yorkshire/Bassetlaw PCTs questionnaire which you can find at 

Even writing Don’t Do This will have to count but the questions are broad enough for you to put in your own opinions about the whole exercise.  NHS Sheffield wants to know:

a)      If you think there are any services on this list for which patients would NOT benefit from being able to choose who delivers their service
b)      If you think there are any health services that would benefit from this approach that are not on our current list
c)       How do you think having choice like this might benefit patients?
d)      Any other comments/ concerns you want to raise with us about this

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Scrap NHS reforms, doctors tell Lords

Experts including 40 directors of public health say government's health and social care bill will cause 'irreparable harm'

 Sarah Boseley, health editor, Monday 3 October

More than 260 senior doctors and public health experts are calling on the House of Lords to throw out the government's health and social care bill, saying it will do "irreparable harm to the NHS, to individual patients and to society as a whole".

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."