RESIST THE BREAKUP OF THE NHS THROUGH PRIVATISATION AND CUTS!
BRIEF UPDATE April 2018
(N.B. This site is not currently being regularly updated. )
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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 increasingly 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 campaigners 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.
THE NHS IS 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 email@example.com
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 http://tinyurl.com/oo8qoc3)
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
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 http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/health/local-health/campaigners-take-to-sheffield-streets-in-fight-to-save-nhs-1-7132981
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.
24th JULY 2014 Public Meeting jointly with Sheffield Medsin
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. http://999callfornhs.org.uk/ Thanks to everyone for helping and joining in.
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 www.sheffieldsaveournhs.co.uk
Tuesday, 24 November 2015
The Government is still claiming that this will pay for a 7 day NHS (which hardly anyone wants - e.g. 2/3 of patients just surveyed by the Royal College of GPs say the government should improve existing services before stretching them) and might even allow Hunt some margin to settle with the Junior Doctors. However a good chunk of the funding will be swallowed up by the deficits already run up this year throughout the NHS. Nearly everyone outside the government agrees that the £22 billion efficiency savings which Simon Stevens imagined as balancing the books cannot be achieved so the deficit will still keep on growing.
Except that there are some private sector suppliers rubbing their hands, not in healthcare but in IT. Articles from Computer Weekly and digitalhealth.net unearthed by Our NHS state that the Department of Health, advised of course by the notorious McKinsey consultants (whose 2010 Labour commissioned report provided part of the motor for the Health and Social Care Bill), has asked the Treasury for £3.5 billion for IT investment (including electronic records) in order to save up to £8billion. I think we've heard this one before and the problems associated with the implementation of STHFT's new Lorenzo system (palmed off by the government to desperate Trusts despite its being generally regarded as unfit) hardly help the credibility of IT led solutions. But rest assured - the Department is spending money on developing a digital maturity index to be applied to CCGs and health economies by the Care Quality Commission!
So there is going to have to be a lot of pressure to try and ensure that any additional funding does actually do some good. There is an additional problem in that the budget for the following 2 to 3 years is pretty flat. Real terms investment will drop to just £500m in the third year, before rising again to £1.7bn in 2020-21. And beware of percentages - different estimates of the total Department of Health budget are being used; also details of the overall budget under tomorrow's full spending review announcement are still not clear.
And where is the money coming from? Well, partly from the non ring-fenced parts of healthcare, including nurse training, public health and the Care Quality Commission, while the cuts in social care are being allowed only a smidgeon of necessary relief by allowing councils to raise an extra 2% in council tax - for which of course they will get the resentment. And then of course from all the other services (and service users, benefit recipients, tax credit claimants etc). Announcing the NHS budget separately from all the others shows that the Treasury still has not made the connections.
It's not exactly a recipe for national health - and incidentally the government yesterday closed a short and less than token consultation on its mandate to NHS England which was not publicised and barely noticed until Keep Our NHS Public people kicked up a stink because the website would not even accept responses to the consultation! In it they claimed that improving the nation's health was one of their overarching objectives. So why cut public health expenditure? And why put out an 8 page mandate which mentions staff only once?
On 28 October, around 250 Sheffield students travelled up to Leeds to join a 2,000-strong protest against the new junior doctors’ contracts. This protest mirrors protests and marches taking place up and down the country (including a march of 20,000 in London) in the past two months and support has been building to oppose contracts which are unsafe for patients and unfair to doctors.
The “non-negotiable” terms of the new contract are an extension of the existing standard working time of junior doctors from 60 to 90 hours per week, changing ‘social hours’ to 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday. This means that Junior Doctors will be paid the same for working 9am on a Monday morning as they will for working 9pm on a Saturday.
The new contracts put an end to banding payments, which have built-in safeguards to prevent excessive hours and to ensure sufficient breaks. This means there will be no way of preventing unsafe hours from being worked or to guarantee junior doctors are paid when shifts overrun.
Changes to pay progression will impact heavily on part-time workers and will put junior doctors off undertaking specialist training, in addition to disadvantaging those wishing to take maternity leave.
These changes will affect the quality of life for those giving care, overall exacerbating the health inequalities already rife within the UK. Get the 83a in Sheffield from Fulwood to Ecclesfield and the life expectancy of the people around you drops by a year for every three minutes you travel. GPs who are tired and demoralised will not be able to treat their patients to the high standards NHS patients deserve.
The British Medical Association (BMA) balloted its junior members in England for industrial action, with an almost unbelievable 98% voting in favour. If strike action takes place, the BMA require the following concrete assurances before re-entering into the negotiations with NHS employers:
• Proper recognition of unsocial hours as premium time
• No disadvantage for those working unsocial hours compared to the current system
• No disadvantage for those working less than full time and taking parental leave compared to the current system pay for all work done.
• Proper hours safeguards protecting patients and their doctors
Industrial action for junior doctors poses some serious questions to medical students: do they leave their placements to support their colleagues and defend their future careers?
The General Medical Council say that a medical student is “unfit to practice” if their attendance is less than 80 per cent, so medical schools are currently unable to explicitly support their students in strike action. It will come down to the individual’s decision if they want to join the junior doctors on the picket line.
If medical students do attend placement on the days of the strike, they risk the pressure of doing more procedures unsupervised, on understaffed wards, putting themselves and patients at risk. If they don’t, they risk penalisation for their absence. Caught between a rock and a hard place, they now need as much support as possible from their peers and lecturers.
How does this fit into the NHS as a whole? Since Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt refuses to back down on the most contentious issues of the Junior Doctors contract, health workers and patients must unite to defend their NHS. If the BMA (the union Aneurin Bevan had to pay off in order to found the welfare state) isn’t safe, then nobody is.