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
Sunday, 19 June 2016
The EU Leave campaign has no right to claim the NHS logo
Whatever side you are on in the referendum debate the NHS should not in itself be a crunch issue although broader health considerations may be. The NHS is not directly relevant to the basic arguments for or against EU membership especially as the debate becomes increasingly polarised between those who consider they have a lot to lose and those voters who feel they have very little left to lose.
The basic trope of the Leave campaign in relation to the NHS is that more money will be available for the NHS if we leave and that pressure on services will be reduced because there will be less immigration. Two Tories have commented on the finance issue: Dr Sarah Wollaston the GP who was part of the Leave campaign, has changed sides because she could not justify the claim that £350billion is paid to the EU, let alone that a significant part of this would be available for the NHS. Also speaking about the NHS last week, John Major, ex Tory PM, told Andrew Marr on the BBC that "Michael Gove wanted to privatise it, Boris wanted to charge people for using it and Iain Duncan Smith wanted a social insurance system. The NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python". As for immigration, yes there are pressures on the NHS just as there are pressures on the Spanish health service because of elderly Brit expatriates. These might change slightly if Brexit secured some change in migration rules but would not necessarily be hugely different especially if we remained in the single market. The threat to the many non UK nationals working in the NHS would be significantly undermining and an extension to the threats faced by non-UK NHS staff earning under £18000 under the current Tory system. We have also been told about the importance of EU membership for collaboration on medical and public health research.
The Remain campaign claim that the Brexit would lead to economic difficulties and confusion for the economy as a whole and this, as Simon Stevens (head of NHS England) has warned, could seriously affect the NHS both short and long term. The NHS is highly vulnerable right now and the head of NHS Improvement has already said that the NHS will be unable to meet its national undertaking to break even this financial year. However the dire general warnings being uttered by lead Remain campaigners and European leaders seem much too catastrophic. Faced with Brexit more bilateral or alternative agreements could and would be drawn up to cover such issues as EHIC although some of the arrangements for elective treatment in EU countries currently available for NHS patients are likely to become unavailable and this would create more demand on UK services. Nevertheless Brexit supporters who are concerned for the NHS have to weigh up whether the longish period of serious economic and political uncertainty which will follow any vote, together with the consequent high level of threat to public sector spending and an NHS which is already over-stretched, is worth the risk against whatever they think will be gained. It is quite possible that the administrative strain of leaving the EU could be at least as stressful for the NHS as Lansley's Act.
Broader health issues and the consequent effects on the NHS are also relevant. We already have austerity and further economic uncertainty will, in the short term at any rate, affect jobs and the national income. Some of the issues are listed in a BMJ article but the links are behind a pay wall. Some medical opinion is summarised by The Independent here. Most medical opinion is in the Remain camp. The EU has taken significant public health initiatives although these are constrained by the lumbering nature of the way in which decisions are taken. Would the sort of UK government or regime which might follow a Brexit vote be likely to give equal support to public health issues, environmental considerations or even human rights given that a prime argument for leaving is deregulation?
Against this it is perfectly possible to argue that taking back responsibility for decision making into UK hands would mean that credit or blame for outcomes, for instance on the NHS, could be squarely put where it belongs instead of using the EU as scapegoat or smokescreen. Some financiers fear that Brexit could give space for 'madcap left ideas' if EU restrictions on state aid to industries are withdrawn (although other EU countries seem to have found ways to provide state support where necessary/desired). One positive outcome of the referendum arguments is the present government's agreement to formally exclude the NHS from TTIP - though the real worth of this assurance is still be tested. Brexit may of course eventually exempt the UK from EU competition laws (though these might still apply, at least partially, in a single market) but what would be the likelihood of a UK government taking an even more pro-competition stance? Business leaders who favour Brexit are overwhelmingly taking a neoliberal free market line.
If this piece is read as being pro-Remain, it is largely because of the misleading claims about the NHS being made by the Leave campaign and the distrust this generates. Campaigners report doorstep opinion that the Brexit campaign is more pro NHS which, as the quotes above suggest, is absolutely untrue.
If we remain in the EU, we know what the general climate is. If we leave then we will have to fight even harder to try and retain the public services we value. For some this may in the long term be a more attractive scenario because it can be argued to favour self-organisation. For others it can only create serious alarm.