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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

Monday, 14 July 2014

Transatlantic Trade negotiations (TTIP) and their effect on health

This is a speech for the World Development Association Day of Action on TTIP July 12th

The proposed international trade partnership agreements TTIP and TISA have the potential to damage our health as well as our economy and environment. But you have to peer through a load of sliding windows, shifty statements and economic pie in the sky to find this out.

Let’s start off by debunking two myths. First of all there are arguments that population health will improve because we will all be better off. This increase in wealth – estimated at something like 9.7% change in real per capita income (Bertelsmann Foundation) - is what seems to bind the Labour leadership into the overall concept of the TTIP. What on earth makes people think that this sort of benefit will happen?

1. First of all the figures for economic benefit are grossly inflated because they are based on the assumption that all aspects of trade will be brought into the treaty – which they won’t be.

2. Secondly, even if there is an economic benefit, what makes anyone think it will be distributed evenly? This average trades off the losses – of jobs, job protection and freely available public services – the losses for ordinary people against the very considerable gains that will be made by the rich, the 1%, the business leaders with their golden hellos and golden handshakes, the shareholders and celebrities with their offshore accounts.

3. Thirdly the potential downgrading of regulation in other spheres – the loss of environmental protection, certain food measures, drugs and advertising, workers’ health and safety all have the potential to make our health a lot worse.

4. Fourthly there is the threat of the ISDS – the secret court where companies can sue governments which threaten competition. Philip Morris are suing Australia under an obscure international provision to try and prevent them going ahead with blank cigarette packets. Hardly good for our health?

So let’s call on the Labour leadership to take off their primrose spectacles and look at the real needs of the people they are supposed to represent.

On the other hand some TTIP opponents give the impression that the NHS will fall to pieces because under the TTIP, healthcare services will be brutally exposed to takeover by international corporations. Well this isn’t quite true either. The NHS as we used to know it even up to 2006 and even just about before the 2012 would have a significant degree of protection either because it was a publicly funded service or because it can be excluded during negotiations – and this is what is made a clear in a letter issued yesterday by the senior EU TTIP negotiator, Sñr Bercero, to one of our local MPs John Healey.

But since the opening up of NHS provision to the private sector, tried by Thatcher, then insinuated into the NHS Plan by Labour from 2001 to 2006 and since then legally institutionalised by the Coalition government, this protecting veil becomes full of holes. Every specialist service which is opened up to tender by NHS England, every CCG which goes out to private tender for NHS services, and, most alarmingly, every decision by the holders of the new personal health budgets to enter the healthcare market, puts that service into the competitive arena and vulnerable to TTIP.

And it’s not just TTIP. As part of the WTO a separate negotiation called TISA is progressing among 20 developed countries including the UK about liberalising the service sector. Here the dangers for a part privatised NHS are even worse especially if the Tories get in next time and especially if Andrew Lansley were to achieve his ambition to become an EU commissioner.

TISA will lock in the rights of private services. Take the example of Bolivia – before Morales was elected president a previous government placed Bolivia’s then pretty awful healthcare system into the WTO system, trying to encourage foreign investment. Of course this hardly produced a service which met the needs of the Bolivian people but when Morales tried to take it out to encourage the growth of an indigenous public service, WTO members like the USA refused to allow the return of hospital services to public control. Good article about TISA in the Big Issue.

Can healthcare be excluded from the TTIP? Of course it can as Sñr Bercero has made clear. The French, right from the beginning, fought hard on one of their perennial bottom line issues – protection from US cultural influences. Paris refused to be involved, exercising a virtual veto, unless cultural issues (mainly films and audio-visual media) were excluded. And they won. Last year the USA and Canada updated their trade agreement. Canada, which has much more publicly funded healthcare, despite cuts there too, refused to include healthcare and the USA was forced to agree. Ironically this has led some liberals in the US to press much harder for healthcare to be included in the TTIP in order to bring more competition into their own appalling system. But not at the cost of our own NHS! No thanks Uncle Sam.

Cameron has dodged all requests for healthcare to be excluded. All the supposed assurances given by government ministers have been equivocal. Sñr Bercero says public services can be protected not that they will be protected. Why this reticence from Cameron? Could it be because of the money given to the Tories by private healthcare interests? Could it be because of the number of Tory and Lib Dem MPs and peers with significant investments in private healthcare? 65 Tory Lords; 12 Lib Dem Lords, 37 Labour Lords, 31 cross benchers, not to mention 63 Tory MPs. (Social Investigations) Surely this can’t be the case. And yet….maybe it could.

Recently the EU halted negotiations in order to start an elaborate public consultation on ISDS which suggested that public provision in areas like health could be excluded from litigation provided government actions were not manifestly unfair. Well who decides what manifestly means? The ISDS secret court no doubt. It is quite clear that any government which was seeking to bring services back into the public sphere, would, at the very best, have to invest considerable resources into protecting itself from litigation.

Let’s be clear, this is not particularly about the EU. There are campaigners against the TTIP like the Greens who are in favour of the EU and others from the Left who are against it. UKIP have nothing to say. A UKIP government would not only be cutting and privatising the NHS but looking for a bilateral agreement between the UK and USA to deliver exactly the same sort of deals for business. So people should not be gulled into looking to UKIP for protection.

So what’s to be done?

First it is clear that the EU negotiators, despite all the fences, are susceptible to pressure. They have already been shamed into delay and attempts at consultation and transparency. So keep it up, locally, nationally and internationally.

1. The campaign needs to carry on right the way through this year and up to and including any EU parliament vote. Our MEPs must be held to account on this.

2. Secondly don’t take any half-baked assurances that our health services are safe. Healthcare needs to be formally exempted and no weasel words from the government can be tolerated. Take every opportunity to press your elected representatives either directly or through organisations like 38 degrees.

3. Finally we need to stop the privatisation rot in the NHS. Even under the present system commissioners need to understand that if they put services out to tender, they are potentially damaging not just the present but the future of the NHS as a publicly owned, publicly provided and publicly accountable service.

For more information, come to the SSONHS meeting on 24th July 2014, 7pm at the Quaker Meeting House. Leading local experts will discuss the issues facing the NHS.

To show your dissent to government policy on the NHS - Join the People’s March for the NHS organised by the Darlington Mums. We hope to see you on August 25th or 26th on the march or at Weston Park. Look out for more details