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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

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.