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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

Saturday, 14 December 2013

What's going on in the NHS?

It’s quite difficult for people to get a grip on what is happening in the NHS at the moment. Even the trade unions seem to have gone quiet despite the success of the march on 29th September. At national level the government is slowly realising some of the consequences of the distortions it has created through the Health and Social Care Act and looks like being caught in a trap as the NHS tries to move forward (e.g. by introducing more service availability at weekends etc) but finds itself tangled up in competition law and continuing financial and resource issues. The Conservatives are probably not too displeased at the drip drip exposure of actual or alleged poor practice in parts of the NHS since it softens services up for tendering out once the time is right. This process will be eased by new measures being slipped through such as making it easier for administrators of failing hospitals to insist on changes in neighbouring services (Clause 118 of the Care Bill to be debated in the Commons on Monday 16th Dec), and the looming negotiation on the EU/USA free trade pact. However privatisation is itself in trouble. Serco is abandoning contracts for GP services in Cornwall and hospital services in Braintree and admits that its operations in Suffolk are not producing the profits it had hoped for. Serco now says these services are no longer core to its healthcare strategy. So once again the promises of the private sector have no more value than tinsel. When problems start they just walk away, leaving the public sector and the taxpayer to clear up the mess. Desperate for the NHS not to be too much of an election issue, the Coalition is applying financial sticking plaster over issues such as winter pressures. Meanwhile the rising profile of patient safety has forced some government induced practices (including trying to save money by reducing nursing staff) into reverse. At local level things appear on the surface to be on fairly even keel in Sheffield, though there are major threats to the current configuration of services in Rotherham. There is concern across South Yorkshire that there may be quite a lot of outsourcing going on for smaller services which only people working in the NHS may realise is happening. Also, as hospitals come under pressure to increase the ratio of qualified nursing staff on wards, they may try and compensate by substituting qualified staff in community services by different types of health ‘assistant’ with lower level training. There is real concern about the quality of service such assistants may be able to deliver, not least because their knowledge may not be wide enough to deal with the different issues they may face. Late December and early January will see a series of national and local policy announcements which are likely to spark off further campaigning. The principles for calculating CCG financial allocations from 2015 are expected to be agreed at the NHS England Board meeting next Tuesday, when we will know if the age of local populations will be used as the main weighting for allocation adjustments, rather than measures of deprivation. This will lead to major cuts, especially in the north of England. Sheffield Health and Wellbeing Board have made what they say are vigorous representations and briefed MPs for recent publicity. Allocations for 2014-15 will probably be announced just before Christmas. In January the CCG will consider the future commissioning of musculoskeletal care. Meanwhile local partnership organisations are concentrating on finding ways to improve primary care.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Blog update October 31 2013

Apologies for the delays in updating this blog - technical problems on site which we hope are now resolved. 
New posts will appear from the beginning of November.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Defending the NHS as it reaches 65

Remember the BBC2 series on the NHS last month, filmed over one day in October.  What a fantastically complex organisation, whirring away in so many forms and dimensions.  Is it any wonder that it goes wrong sometimes, however hard we all try.  But patients have generally been forgiving if they feel that the service was doing as much as it could - the local population has marched in support of Mid-Staffordshire Hospital for example and it is moving, especially in these days of compensation culture, to here people who have suffered injury or loss emphasising that their priority is to make sure that bad events are not repeated. 
That is what is so discouraging about the alleged cover up at the CQC - and the embarrassed and embarrassing wriggles by both Lansley and Andy Burnham who were responsible ministers at different times.  The Francis Report on Mid-Staffs exonerated the Department of Health from being a bullying culture (just about) but there can be little doubt that there was a culture of fear - at senior as well as at middle management levels.  However much the NHS might try to encourage a 'no blame' culture to help people own up to clinical mistakes (they probably ought to go back to the old name of a learning culture now) politicians and the media search for others on whom to lay blame, creating their own victims. Alternatively if issues look like causing problems directly, they look for the nearest carpet whose corner to lift. The banality that is Jeremy Hunt thinks the answer is more and better regulation, but regulation carries its own costs and inefficiencies (cf Ofsted).  A fragmented NHS would have to spend even more on regulation to try and secure standards in the services commissioned from different sectors.  How much better it would be to have more emphasis (and spending) on a shared and genuine commitment to quality and safety at the front line - something difficult if not impossible to achieve within a competitive market. (See background to the CQC issue at
Now, more than a year since the Act was passed, and a few months since it came into operation, the forces who want to break up the NHS are pushing harder and harder.  GPs are now beginning to realise how much the NHS reforms have put them in the firing line, something we warned about time and time again. David Nicholson, for all his centralism etc, has at least been a staunch defender of the basic ideal. But the people being mooted to succeed him are of a different ilk.  Of those being mooted as favourites, two ex NHS managers are prominent advocates of outsourcing (Mark Britnell, head of global healthcare for KPMG) who told US providers what great opportunities awaited them) and Simon Stevens, Tony Blair's advisor, and vice president of the United Health Group. And of course Nick Seddon, an advocate of private healthcare, has just been appointed as Cameron's advisor. (Several internal candidates have blots on their copybooks: Mike Farrar was Chair of North West SHA until fairly recently and Ian Dalton recently left for BT Global Healthcare.) Issues like Serco's falsification of figures in the West Country, Harmoni's failures in NHS 111, Circle's financial difficulties, and the fiasco of the NHS 111 commissioning won't halt these people.
Charges have raised their head again, including among BMA members, though it is to be hoped that their annual conference will firmly push this down.  The overwhelming passing of a motion of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt was a good start (and see the article by Jacky Davis at Apart from undermining basic principles, creating its own costs, and worsening equality issues, it will change the nature of the patient-doctor relationship - staff will find patients becoming more not less demanding if there is any element of payment (cf students and university lecturers). 
We will need to debate these issues and more over the coming months as well as marshalling the defence of local services.
With all this going on we need openly to celebrate the 65th birthday of the NHS on Friday July 5th 1013 and step up all the protection we can give to it.  Although a lot of people are away next week (including yours truly), we are still hoping to mount an event outside the Hallamshire at 1pm on 5th July - and Chesterfield SONHS are having an event from 11 to 1 in Chesterfield Market Place - also on the 5th July. 

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Future of the Minor Injuries Unit at the Hallamshire

Updated 23 June 2013 with information from Nick Clegg MP.  Our campaign was worth running.

The future of the MIU is officially 'under review' as part of the Right First Time programme.
Often the public is only able to campaign for a service after a closure proposal has been formally announced.  Very often this is too late.  We are campaigning for the MIU now because we know that a closure proposal is a serious possibility, and we want to get public support for retaining the service while the review is still in progress. Signature gathering is going well and petitions can be downloaded from our main website .

The current situation is that, by all accounts, the Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust would like to have all their emergency services based at the Northern General Hospital where the A&E Unit is currently being redeveloped. Both the Local Involvement Network (soon to be replaced by Healthwatch) and SSONHS are on the record as saying we expect any proposal for the MIU at the Hallamshire to be closed should be subject to consultation as it would leave people in the South and East of the city, not to mention the centre, very much at disadvantage. 

When we first raised this issue there was no guaranteed funding for the MIU beyond March 2013.  However the work at NGH and the fact that Right First Time has up to now concentrated on services for older people suggest that the MIU will remain open for at least the first part of the next financial year.    We have also just heard that that the MIU is likely to feature in a campaign informing the public about where to go for help for accidents and emergencies - this may be the campaign to be launched in March featuring the new NHS 111 service. 
In addition there a national review of A&E has been announced which is likely to emphasise the importance of tiered and accessible services.  This may lead to some A&Es being designated 999 centres and others as 111 services.  The 111 service in South Yorkshire will be provided by Yorkshire Ambulance Service in association with Local Care Direct.  The NHS Direct Call Centre was reported by Unison to be under threat but we have no further news on that.  
It is possible that that these changes would lead to the continuation of the MIU, but possibly elsewhere(i.e. not in NGH), for example in the Walk In Centre in Broad Lane, which is run by a private company under contract to the NHS.  So there could be an outsourcing / privatisation proposal.

Update 31 March 2013
In only a few petitioning sessions we gathered over 1000 signatures to save the MIU, many from people who had used it.  Indeeed some of our supporters found themselves in need of the service during the campaign.  The petition was handed to Nick Clegg MP with a copy to Paul Blomfield MP - the Hallamshire was previously in Hallam constituency but is now in Central.  Pressure on A&E this winter has forced the STHFT and NHS Sheffield to include the MIU is publicity for alternatives.  They have been made aware of public concern and Sheffield's Labour MPs have been told that there are no plans to close it.  However the MIU remains under review and we have no doubt that the redesign of A&E at Northern General will see a further surfacing of the intention to move the minor injuries service there.  The MIU remains under review and we will revive the campaign if need be.

Update 23 June 2013
Nick Clegg has now sent us extracts from the reply he received from Sheffield CCG about the MIU.  For the first time we have confirmation that in 2011 NHS Sheffield resolved to close the MIU and to reprovide the walk-in service at Broad Lane.  The CCG now says that it has no plans to decommission the MIU and any decision to do so would be taken on clinical grounds and in conjunction with the Sheffield Health Community. 

As A&E attendances nationally continue to rise, NHS England has set up a review and consultation about urgent care.  Some details are available at  It's a bit hard going and is not patient friendly though it tries to be.  Nor does it have anything to say about separate treatment for minor injuries. The CCG may revisit its position after publication of the review.

People who have had good experience of the type of service provided at the MIU should respond through the consultation if possible 

Thursday, 10 January 2013

New Year and fresh campaigns

2013 will be a busy year.  At a national level regulations to implement the 2012 Health and Social Care Act will continue to be laid before Parliament.  Further waves of privatisation are likely to be initiated by the Coalition and the continuous demand for efficiency savings is likely to lead to cuts and financial failures - as is currently happening in South London.  Pressures on staff will increase, probably leading to higher stress and sickness rates.  Wages will be frozen and benefits such as tax credits cut.

There is also widespread concern about the capabilities of CCGs although this does not apply to Sheffield which is likely to be one of the few CCGs to be authorised without conditions. 

At a local level important reconfiguration reviews are under way (e.g. Right First Time), AQP service providers will soon be in operation, and the local authority is having to make a swathe of cuts, which will include closures - including some services for children and for older people as well as community libraries, leisure centres etc etc.  Cuts in benefit levels will have increasing effect, meaning that ill health and demands on health services will increase.

SSONHS's first campaign will be around the future of the Minor Injuries Centre at the Hallamshire.  It seems to be no secret that Sheffield Teaching Hospitals Trust would like to transfer it to NGH.  This can only be for financial reasons since it will make access much more difficult for people in the south and east of the city as well as risking still more of a bottleneck at NGH despite the planned expansion.  Petitioning starts on January 12th at noon outside the Town Hall and in Broomhill Shopping Centre.