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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, 10 February 2016

Junior Doctors strike - Hunt must take the blame

Update Sept 2016
After many false hopes of potential settlement (including Hunt's potential departure following the Brexit vote)the junior doctors voted not to accept the new deal and eventually decided that escalating the dispute would be the only way forward. Reluctantly they posted notice of a rolling programme of 5 day strikes (daytime only) starting in September, but feedback from members and senior doctors soon revealed that the NHS would be too fragile to cope and patient safety might well be compromised. The first strike was called off and on 24th Sept a newly elected junior doctors leadership (including several radical names) decided to suspend the proposed actions entirely while not accepting imposition of the document. This will cause difficulties for junior doctors as new rotas are introduced next month and the JD leadership is likely to propose a different series of actions. A High Court judgement on the junior doctor's challenge to the new contract as the result of Hunt acting beyond his remit and irrationally is expected on the 28th Sept. The Junior Doctors' statement is on the BMA website.

Update 18/02/16 Following the strike on 10th February Hunt announced that he would be imposing the contract. In a typical NHS management muddle a number of leading NHS Trust executives including Sir Andrew Cash from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals were cited as supporting Hunt. However many of them, including Sir Andrew, notified that while they regarded the revised contract as fair and reasonable they did not support its imposition. Following reports that the imposition was not binding on Trusts, Health Education England which is now in charge of national training schemes announced that Trusts which did not impose the contract could be fined. Junior doctors are considering their positions while senior doctors have rallied to their support. This is a huge crisis for the NHS.

10/02/16 Both the Independent and the Guardian have reported that a provisional agreement between NHS Employers and the BMA has been personally vetoed by Jeremy Hunt. The crux seems to be around the description of Saturdays. Jeremy Hunt did not turn up to Parliament on Monday to answer an urgent health question, leaving it to his sidekick Ben Gummer. The interesting parliamentary exchanges can be read here.

The new chief negotiator's letters to junior doctors and to Jeremy Hunt can be accessed here. Note David Dalton's references to the crisis in morale among junior doctors (not to mention other NHS staff groups) and figures published today suggesting that fewer and fewer doctors finishing training will stay in the NHS.

This is clearly a strike which did not need to happen and the fault appears to lie firmly with the Government. As well as failing with this particular contract negotiation, they continue to undermine the NHS as a whole.

Finally a report just out from the National Audit Office, the independent spending watchdog, firmly criticises NHS workforce planning and says it is often driven by the need to make cash savings rather than clinical need. It says:
there is a 5.9% reported staffing shortfall in 2014, equating to some 50,000 clinical staff.
Across the health system as a whole, there are shortcomings in how the supply of clinical staff is managed, in terms of both planning the future workforce and meeting the current demand for staff.

"Trusts’ workforce plans appear to be influenced as much by meeting efficiency targets as by staffing need. Our evidence indicates that trusts’ workforce plans are often driven by the financial plans that they prepare for the NHS Trust Development Authority or Monitor. These plans envisage significant recurrent pay savings. Between 2012-13 and 2015-16, trusts planned to make recurrent pay savings of around £1 billion each year, although actual savings consistently fell well short of this amount. By focusing on efficiency targets when balancing financial sustainability and service requirements, trusts risk understating their true staff needs. This in turn could result in Health Education England commissioning too few places to train new staff. At trust level, it may also lead to gaps in staffing or additional costs from using more expensive temporary staff to address shortfalls.

All key health policies and guidance should explicitly consider the workforce implications. Past developments have not fully assessed how the necessary staff will be made available and funded. When major changes to services are proposed, such as the ‘7-day NHS’, the various national oversight bodies – including the Department, NHS England, NHS Improvement, the Care Quality Commission and the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence – need to work together to understand the staffing implications and financial impact.

The Department and Health Education England should review the funding arrangements for training clinical staff. The review should involve evaluating the effect of current and planned funding arrangements for higher education institutions, clinical placements and students. Specifically, they should ensure that the right incentives, including financial reimbursements, are in place to supply sufficient staff with the right skills in the right locations."

In these circumstances - more and more responsibility, stretched out over more and more time, and with less and less help - is it any wonder that Junior Doctors feel that they are being "hung out to dry"?