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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

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Electronic Care Data - the saga continues

The Care Data protests have forced NHS England rather unapologetically to delay the collection of data from GPs until the autumn The NHS England website states:

To ensure that the concerns of the BMA, RCGP, Healthwatch and other groups are met, NHS England will:

• Begin collecting data from GP surgeries in the Autumn, instead of April, to allow more time to build understanding of the benefits of using the information, what safeguards are in place, and how people can opt out if they choose to;

• Work with patients and professional groups – including the BMA, RCGP and Healthwatch – to develop additional practical steps to promote awareness with patients and the public, and ensure information is accessible and reaches all sections of the community, including people with disabilities;

• Look into further measures that could be taken to build public confidence, in particular steps relating to scrutiny of ways in which the information will be used to benefit NHS patients

The gathering protests also led to the current Health Select Committee inquiry which met yesterday (25thFeb) to get the background. It will get some written evidence and then hold at least one more session to look at proposals for improving the system.

There are several version of why the postponement took place, one being that if the policy was successfully challenged in the courts it would be GPs who would be held liable for permitting the data to be collected rather than NHS England.
GP reaction has varied from trying to opt out all their patients (resulting in threats - late withdrawn - to suspend the GP), some actively contacting patients to tell them about opting out, and others making it pretty difficult to opt out.

It's worth stating that this is a really important issue and the potential value for patient care of the database has led many of those involved to ignore some of the difficulties about setting it up. For a sensitive discussion by Ben Goldacre (and various comments)

There are two issues: one about care data; and one about the arrogance, evasion and apparent incompetence of some types of senior NHS management.

1) Care Data:
Stones are now being rolled back revealing a lot of thoughtless and possibly murky practice. This includes the failure of the new Health and Social Care Information Centre to start this process without having developed and consulted on a code of practice as required by the 2012 Act; the possibility until assurances given this week that even if people opted out, some data would have been extracted; the failure of NHS England to communicate with properly with GPs, let alone the public; and last year's decision of the NHS Information Centre which preceded the new organisation to give the contract for extracting data from GPs to ATOS. It is quite incredible that NHS information managers could have given ATOS the contract to extract data even before pseudonymisation, however fast they were going to transfer it to the 'safe haven' of the HSCIC. If, as was said yesterday, it is technically difficult to psuedonymise the data before or when extracted, then the contract should not have been given to an organisation which has a clear conflict of interest. No way is this in the interests of patients as required by law. The managers also appeared unable to give the Select Committee any firm assurances that the DWP would not be able to access this personal medical data. Both of these factors might well influence a decision to opt out unless further protection is built in.

At least with the Select Committee's involvement, revised plans for care data collection will be opened to public scrutiny and to direct challenge by organisations like Medical Confidential.

All this is a gift to the right wing press like the Telegraph and the Mail which can refer to the NHS thought police. The Telegraph secured an added scoop by revealing (under a misleading headline) that hospital care data for millions of patients was sold (at cost) to representatives of insurance companies who were able to match it up with credit rating information from Experian and use it to raise premiums. What's more the Tories are claiming first that patients were never given the chance by the previous government to opt out from the centralisation of this data (true but the significance of the data is different) and secondly that this was only possible under the previous regime and it cannot happen under the safeguards of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (something challenged by Medical Confidential and not convincingly defended by the minister and NHS witnesses yesterday).

2) NHS England and the Secretary of State.
Although the Secretary of State remains formally accountable under the 2012, it was clear that it was NHS England on to which the ordure was being shovelled. As one Committee Member pointed out, the Ministerial witness, Dr Dan Poulter, was pretty silent and not able to answer matters of detail.

Evidence is emerging that some of the national organisations set up under the Act are not doing too well. For instance the staff survey of Public Health England reveals very low morale and its head has failed to demonstrate his independence from government. Meanwhile NHS England is affected first by the departure of many skilled staff because of Lansley's reorganisation and cuts, secondly by the pressures being put on those who remain and are in an entirely new structure, and thirdly by an increased tendency, when under pressure, not just to take short cuts but to preserve some of the dictatorial trends of previous centralised NHS regimes. We have already complained about the lack of transparency and accessibility of the local NHS England office. The implementation of the Friends and Family Test is also proving dubious.

The senior managers at HSCIC(some with past private sector involvement) seem to have let their obsession with getting hold of data and their lack of principle in determining end users, get in the way of any understanding of how the public might perceive it. They ostensibly agree that a person's health records are their property but don't take on the implications. They also hide behind the relatively recent creation of the HSCIC to deny any responsibility for or even access to the decisions of the previous NHS Information Centre. As one MP commented, their actions have threatened the doctor patient relationship and discredited the NHS.

They are not going to go, unfortunately, at least for the time being; so we have to hope that some of the damage can be repaired by the processes now being put in place to improve some of the technical aspects of data collection, to tell people more clearly about what is involved, and to make it much simpler to opt out if people wish. The campaign needs to go on in order to exert maximum pressure for an acceptable system. If it cannot be made acceptable, it should not happen.