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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, 29 April 2015

Privatisation of the NHS

There was a dire health debate on the Daily Politics show this afternoon, which proved to be another example of how to engender despair at our self aggrandising macho political system. The only woman, Jillian Creasy from the Greens, fought her corner but was allowed no chance to try and change the terms of the debate. What a contrast from some of the local discussions in Sheffield which have brought people together in a genuine effort to bring about service improvement as a partnership.

During the discussion (or rather during the series of interruptions)it became clear that mainstream journalists are willing to take on defenders of the NHS as a public service by arguing that the NHS is not being privatised because no shares are being sold. This has been going on since 2011.

Let's be clear. Shares are not being sold because at the moment there are no shares to be sold but that doesn't mean that they couldn't be. On the provider side Trusts were created by the Tories for the internal market, then made into more independent financial entities by Labour (Foundation Trusts)- which could easily become more independent still (those that are not bogged down in bankrupting PFI agreements at least); while the proposals in the Five Year Forward View can easily lead to the creation of local health corporations.

But shareholding isn't the point. Creeping privatisation is the normalisation of commercial and market relationships in the NHS by enforcing competitive tendering and allowing the private sector 'a level playing field'. This changes the value base of the NHS and also leads to its resources being fed into the pockets of private providers and shareholders. (That's the theory - though in practice private contracts are proving more loss making than profitable at the moment.) For a patient it means that her or his service is dependent on decisions made by commercial providers for commercial reasons which do not have the patient's interest as their prime objective. If there are issues or gaps, resolution will depend not on what is best for the patient but what is in the contract. And of course there is no security because a private provider can simply walk away from provision leaving the NHS to pick up the pieces.

Both Andrew Neill and Jeremy Hunt argued that the increase in contracts to the private sector was relatively small compared to what Labour had started but Andy Burnham was right to reply that it is not so much the value of the contracts being given that needs to be taken into account (a few are huge but the most expensive NHS services remain in house) but their number - leading to a huge increase in the number of occasions that a patient will encounter private providers with no accountability to her or him, and also to the fragmentation of services.

The overall scenario is best put by James Meek in his book Private Island (Verso 2014.)The NHS 'hasn't been privatised and the political parties vie with each other to show that it's safest in their hands. Yet it has been commercialised and repeatedly reorganised, with competition introduced, in such a way as to create a kind of shadowing of an as-yet-unrealised private health insurance system.' (p19) and 'The more closely you look at what has happened over the last twenty-five years, the more clearly you can see a consistent programme of commercialising the NHS which is independent of party political platforms.'(p163). See also his recent articles .

There is little evidence that private contracting is working. Apart from the well-known failure of Circle in the acute sector at Hinchingbrooke and the chaos engendered by some of the contracts elsewhere ( Muscoloskeletal services in Bedfor, Dermatology in Nottingham) a study just published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine has found that alternative providers of primary care, including private companies (such as Virgin) and voluntary organisations, do not perform as well as traditional GP practices. Among the differences between types of practices, alternative providers had worse results for patients’ diabetes control, higher hospital admission rates for chronic conditions, and lower overall patient satisfaction. See also various press reports including this one

We may be able to guess the stance of the next government by its decision about the almost completed privatisation of primary care support services (the backroom services for GPs, dentists etc). This is the one for which Lockheed Martin was not shortlisted but the three leading bidders are all private sector. NHS England has already announced the impending closure of more than 9 offices with something like 348 redundancies (about half voluntary). The result of the tendering process is not due to be announced until after the election but will need to be one of the first operational decisions permitted or refused by the new Secretary of State.

There is also the impending privatisation of cancer care at Stafford. Protestors will be marching across Staffordshire during the May Day weekend. Join them if you can.
Register on their Website:
and have a look at their Facebook: