District Nurses - we can work together
Last Updated ( Friday, 29 November 2013 18:38 )
Dear District Nurses of Gloucestershire,
We've been hearing strong concerns from GCS staff - both district nurses and others - about planned changes to working conditions such as shift patterns and shifts to work location. We know that staff are very concerned about the impact this will have on patients in terms of quality of care, continuity of care, and safety.
We share these concerns. This isn't about 'resisting change' for the sake of it, as some staff have been told. As members of the public, we are very worried that it seems some quite basic questions which will impact on patients too, have not been properly thought through and that the knowledge of frontline staff about what actually will and won't work in practice, seems not to be being listened to enough.
We have been trying to help by highlighting concerns in the press, writing to GCS, etc.
We can continue to speak out, but you have the networks and knowledge that is vital to gather and share information.
How you can help us:
1. Please continue to send us quotes (which we will anonymise before using on our website/in articles) with your concerns, particularly about how the changes will impact patients. These quotes can be as short or long as you like. Send to
(we previous utilised anonymous staff comments in the successful campaign against turning Gloucestershire Care Services into a social enterprise)
2. Please encourage others to do the same, by sharing this information, our website (www.stroudagainstcuts.co.uk), articles (such as this one on our demonstration of support with District Nurses) and press releases (eg. this one on our concerns regarding District Nurses) with your networks.
3. If you have not already done so, please do send your concerns in writing to your union reps, so they can report concerns collectively in the workplace.
We are doing our best to help, but when we have raised these concerns as members of the public with the most directly involved councillors (those on the health scrutiny committee) they have either not responded or have told us (in the case of Labour councillors) they are reluctant to raise concerns
because (they say) the unions have not raised any. We are not convinced this is the case - and even if it were, we are dissatisfied with this answer from councillors, who are here to represent the public. As noted above, there are obvious grounds for public concern.
The more evidence there is of people on the frontline speaking out, the harder it becomes for these concerns to be dismissed. We are happy to help anonymise this speaking out to protect you, though this is also the union's role. Please also think about asking your GP contacts if they will speak out publicly about what is going on, eg in the press.
We really value the work you are doing in the NHS and appreciate the difficult pressures you are under. I hope we can work together to make some difference even if its just to let people know what's going on.
Protest Lobby as Bedroom Tax Petition Triggers Council Debate
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 November 2013 09:08 )
Stroud Against the Cuts and Unite Community will lobby Stroud District Council from 6pm on November 28th 2013 at Ebley Mill. At 7pm we will enter the council chamber, where the receipt of a 1200 signature petition will be acknowledged and enable an SATC member to speak on the bedroom tax, before councillors debate a motion. Contact Chris Moore 07810 732379 for more details:
Please join us to show your opposition to the bedroom tax and call on Stroud District Council to commit to:
- No evictions due to bedroom tax arrears
- Write off existing arrears due to the bedroom tax
- Only designate rooms larger than 70sq feet as bedrooms (as according to the 1985 Housing Act)
- Increase the council's house building programme to meet need
- Use its legal powers to bring empty homes into use
- Put pressure on Housing Associations not to evict, including calling on them not to use 'Ground 8'.
Please bring placards, banners, musical instruments and/or whatever else you feel will make for a lively and colourful protest. The leaflet for the event is displayed below, followed by a press release.
PRESS RELEASE – STROUD AGAINST THE CUTS – 05/11/2013 – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BEDROOM TAX PETITION TO TRIGGER COUNCIL DEBATE
Contact: Chris Moore 07810 732379 from SATC, or Sue Powell 07947 632437 from Unite Community |
Summary: On Friday 8th November, Stroud Against the Cuts and Unite Community will hand in a petition to officers at Stroud District Council . 1,200 Stroud residents are demanding a ‘no-evictions’ policy, adopted by councils elsewhere in the country, and for SDC to “Write off rent arrears for Bedroom Tax and top up the government’s discretionary housing payment fund”, among other demands. Collected in only a few weeks, the signatures are sufficient to give the group an opportunity to speak at the Council’s next meeting on November 28th, when they will also be lobbying the council from 6pm .
The reductions to Housing Benefit Entitlement, introduced in April 2013, more commonly known as the Bedroom Tax mean that social housing tenants in receipt of housing benefit payments, excluding those in receipt of a state pension, will face reductions of 14% if deemed to have one spare bedroom and 25% if deemed to have two spare bedrooms . Nineteen tenancies have been already been forced to move as a result of the bedroom tax, and in August 2013 it was reported that 347 Council tenancies forced to find £9.10-£37.50 more each week in order to continue living in the properties they currently occupy. The local press has previously reported on the case of a 61 year-old disabled man, living alone in a two bedroom council apartment, who faces a £16.32 cut to his housing benefit . One of the petition signatories, 18 year-old Amanda Jones from Brimscombe’s 60 year-old mother will be deemed to have a ‘spare bedroom’ and forced to pay the bedroom tax when Amanda is forced to leave her family home due to other changes in housing benefit.
Sue Powell from Unite Community said: “From talking to the public, it is clear many people are angry at the stress and anxiety being caused to some of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society due to increasing rent arrears and the threat of eviction. Two-thirds of those affected are disabled. There are not enough 1 and 2-bedroom properties available for people forced to downsize. People simply cannot afford to pay their rent when their housing benefit is reduced, so people face the prospect of being forced from their homes, for the ‘crime’ of having a spare room.”
Stroud District Council has admitted there are insufficient properties for tenants affected by the bedroom tax to move to. The ‘Council New Build Programme’ report stated, ‘demand is primarily for one and two bedroom properties’. In April 2012 there were 2,703 households on the SDC’s waiting list, nearly double the 2002 number. By October 2012 there were 1,859 applicants for one bedroom social housing property and 848 applicants for two bedroom properties. 
Chris Moore from SATC added: “While SDC plans to build a total of 150 social housing units by March 2018, this will not cover the shortfall. Many people will be forced into unsuitable and/or enormously expensive temporary or private rented accommodation, and as a result the total cost of housing benefit will actually rise.”
The UN Special Rapporteur on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, has requested: “that the so-called bedroom tax be suspended immediately and be fully re-evaluated in light of the evidence of its impacts on the right to adequate housing and general well-being of many vulnerable individuals.” 
Click read more below for notes
Stroud Against the Cuts supports Cheltenham A&E campaign
Last Updated ( Friday, 29 November 2013 11:03 )
In July 2013 the acute Hospital Trust in Gloucestershire downgraded A&E services at Cheltenham General Hospital (CGH) between 8pm and 8am. During this period the A&E Department will be staffed by Emergency Nurse Practitioners (ENPs), rather than specialist A&E Consultants and Doctors. This means some patients are now referred to Gloucester or Frenchay in Bristol instead of Cheltenham.
The Cheltenham Chamber of Commerce has instigated a campaign, called REACH (Restore Emergency At Cheltenham Hospital), which is working with local businesses, local residents and other campaign groups such as 38 Degrees and Stroud Against the Cuts to achieve the following objective:
"To have a fully functioning, fully staffed A&E Department operating 24/7 re-instated at Cheltenham General Hospital, which serves a population of at least 200,000 in Cheltenham, Tewkesbury Borough and the North Cotswolds, at the earliest possible opportunity.”
REACH add that "The focus of the REACH campaign is, as the title suggests, to secure the re-establishment of a full 24/7 Accident and Emergency department at Cheltenham hospital to serve the people of that town and the surrounding districts of Gloucestershire. The campaign is also keeping a watching brief on the related A&E services: the 111 phone line; ambulance provision; and the out of GP hours service. All of these appear to be under pressure and all impact on the quality of response to patients at times of acute needs."
Stroud Against the Cuts supports the objective and work of the REACH campaign. For more information see: www.reachnow.org.uk/
NHS - latest news from Keep Our NHS Public and others
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 November 2013 18:54 )
As many Stroud Against the Cuts supporters joined due to our involvement in the Keep Gloucestershire's NHS Public campaign (which successfully prevented Gloucestershire's community health services being privatised), we want to keep you informed of NHS issues. There is a lot out there - more than we can put into our supporters' updates each week - so from now on we will also post a weekly NHS update, providing links to the articles a healthworker and SATC member thinks are most important to follow. These stories come via our affiliate membership to the national campaigning organisation Keep Our NHS Public and subscription to the Open Democracy: Our NHS email list. If you would like to recieve such updates by email, and engage in discussion about them, you can join a yahoo group for those concerned about NHS cuts and privatisation in Gloucestershire: http://uk.groups.yahoo.com/group/Save-the-NHS-Glos/
Update Week 15-22/11/2013
An age-old assumption. The idea that dependent older people represent a great demographic challenge of our age has been turned on its head. Academics from the University of Edinburgh argue numbers have actually been falling in Britain and the ratio of working adults to dependent pensioners is improving. The research questions an assumption behind arguments for health, social care and immigration policies. The findings were published in the British Medical Journal. "The extent, speed and effect of population ageing have all been exaggerated and we should not assume that it will strain health and social care systems,"
Government admits fiddling figures to hide failings of fit for work test. Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore MP has today revealed that the number of sick and disabled people wrongly declared ‘Fit for Work’ by a Government benefits test could be far higher than previously thought.
Revealed: Four options proposed for CSU autonomy. Commissioning Support Units (CSU) will be given a choice of four options for becoming independent, under proposals under consideration by senior leaders at NHS England. Director of commissioning support strategy and market development Bob Ricketts has submitted his recommendations for the “autonomisation” of CSUs to NHS England chief executive Sir David Nicholson. He recommends there are four possible options for each CSU. These are: A social enterprise, such as a community interest company; A staff-owned co-operative; A joint venture with a private sector partner; and a customer ownership model.
NHS competition holds up creation of specialist cancer treatment centres. The government's drive to introduce more competition into the NHS is having the perverse effect of holding up the creation of world-class cancer treatment centres, the Observer can reveal. Investigations show that individual hospitals whose roles would be downgraded under reorganisations are blocking moves to concentrate cancer services into fewer top-performing specialist centres, by claiming such mergers would be anti-competitive and would reduce patient choice. NHS leaders, who are deeply concerned about the effect that legal disputes are having on progress, have admitted some cancer units are being allowed to carry on operating even though they do not meet the latest official guidelines on how services should best be organised. In one case, a "rationalisation" of cancer services in and around Manchester, proposed by NHS England as a way to improve "outcomes" to world-class levels, is being challenged and held up by complaints from south Manchester NHS foundation trust and Stockport NHS foundation trust on legal grounds.
Competition is killing the NHS, for no good reason but ideology. It came too late. "We are bogged down in a morass of competition law. We have competition lawyers all over the place telling us what to do, causing enormous difficulty." So said Sir David Nicholson, departing head of NHS England, to the health select committee, excoriating what has been done to the NHS. Nicholson could have stopped Cameron's Health and Social Care Act had he and other NHS leaders dared speak out as it struggled through parliament, hanging on exactly this point – infecting the NHS with competition law. It's too late, now the NHS has tendered out three-quarters of new contracts to competition, according to Pulse magazine. Headlines focus on the gathering storm in A&E, bed shortages, waiting times and rationing (one eye only for cataracts). Less visible, but equally disruptive, is section 75's competition clause. Here's what's happening: two Blackpool commissioning groups (CCGs) are stunned at being referred to Monitor's competition arm for failing to send enough patients to Spire private hospital. Spire accuses the CCGs of telling GPs to use the NHS Blackpool hospital instead. Dr Amanda Doyle, head of one CCG, "strongly refutes" and "deeply resents" the charge. She says Spire has fewer referrals for good reasons: a faster, cheaper pathway for headache care has diverted patients away from Spire's neurology consultants, so GPs treat people in the community, ordering CT scans, avoiding costly hospital visits. GPs have been trained to give joint injections and make referrals to physiotherapy without hospital appointments, so Spire lost orthopaedic work. "Spire went direct to Monitor, without talking to us," Doyle says. The cost will be huge for her small group: she's had to hire an administrator to collect thousands of documents, tracking every referral from every GP for years. "This has shocked me. I didn't think it possible." She's not alone. The final judgment by Monitor, the Office of Fair Trading and the Competition Commission forbidding Bournemouth and Poole hospitals from merging has stunned the NHS. Poole's CEO told a meeting it cost them more than £6m in lawyers and paperwork; without merger his trust will have an £8m-a-year deficit. Tony Spotswood, CEO of Royal Bournemouth, says: "The merger would have saved £14m a year, with great benefits to patients. A single A&E would offer 24-hour, seven-day-a-week consultants," but that's scrapped, along with a new maternity centre. Several specialisms only viable when shared will go, sending patients far away. Unified cardiology would give 24-hour consultant cover, but not now. Poole and Bournemouth, 10 miles apart with no other competitor in sight, have been forced to give the Competition Commission an undertaking not to try any backdoor co-operation. Bournemouth's motto is "Putting patients first", but priority goes to competition ideology.
The pre-election pledges that the Tories are trying to wipe from the internet. The Conservative Party has removed all pre-May 2010 press releases and speeches from their website, but what could they possibly have to hide? Here are some suggestions. 1. No cuts to front-line services. As remarkable as it may seem, David Cameron told Andrew Marr the weekend before the general election that a Conservative government would not cut any front-line services. Since then, 5,870 NHS nurses, 7,968 hospital beds, a third of ambulance stations, 5,362 firefighters and 6,800 frontline police officers have been cut...4. NHS: "no more top-down reorganisations". Perhaps most infamously, the Conservatives repeatedly promised before the general election that there would be no more "top-down reorganisations" of the NHS (Andrew Lansley, Conservative Party press release, 11 July 2007). In a speech at the Royal College of Pathologists on 2 November 2009, Cameron said: "With the Conservatives there will be no more of the tiresome, meddlesome, top-down re-structures that have dominated the last decade of the NHS." In his 2006 Conservative conference speech, he said: "So I make this commitment to the NHS and all who work in it. No more pointless reorganisations." The coalition went on to launch the biggest top-down reorganisation of the service in its history.
A&E crisis: Tories accused of dismantling alternatives. A fresh row erupted last night over overcrowded hospital accident and emergency departments. Labour poured scorn on claims by Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, that the controversial 2004 GP contract was the root cause of the crisis. Labour highlighted official figures showing that the number of people using A&E services has increased three times more since the Conservatives came to power in 2010 than it did in the period from 2004 to 2010 under Labour. Of the 986,000 more visitors using A&E since 2004, 64 per cent are said to have come since 2010, or an average of 211,000 a year – compared with increases of 70,000 a year from 2004 to 2010. On Friday, as Mr Hunt gave details of a new contract with GPs which is set to take effect from next April, he said that the 2004 contract had "put huge pressure on our A&E departments", and that it "broke the personal link between GP and patient … [and] took away their responsibility for out-of-hours care". Citing research published early last week by Monitor, the health services regulator in England, Andrew Gwynne, a Labour health spokesman, pointed out that 53 of the 238 medical walk-in centres across the country have closed since the last general election. There have been 2.9 million extra visitors to the centres since 2004, an increase of 494,450 per year between 2004 and 2010 and 197,654 a year since then. Mr Gwynne said: "Cameron has created this crisis by systematically dismantling alternatives to A&E. A quarter of walk-in centres have been closed. NHS Direct has been scrapped and funding for elderly care has been slashed."
Keogh: Is the solution to failed outsourcing more failed outsourcing? Sir Bruce Keogh has published a report on the first stage of his review of urgent and emergency care in England. You can read more about the review as it progresses on NHS Choices. There are various potential causes of the current A&E problems. One reason might be that many people anecdotally seem to have trouble in getting a ‘routine’ GP appointment. Sir Bruce says the current system is under “intense, growing and unsustainable pressure”. Unite, which has 100,000 members in the health service, said this year that it wanted the “Pay Review Body” to “grasp the nettle” of declining living standards of NHS staff. “The idea behind the flat rate increase is that the rise in the price of a loaf of bread is the same whether you are a trust chief executive or a cleaner. Why should the CEO get a pay increase of more than ten times that of the cleaner, as would be the case it you have a percentage increase,” said Unite head of health Rachael Maskell. According to one recent report, the boss of a failing NHS trust was awarded a £30,000 pay rise as patients were deprived of fluids and forced to wait in a car park because A&E was full.
Frenchay beds decision referred to secretary of state.
A decision whether to downscale plans for new community beds at a Bristol hospital when the existing facility closes in 2014 has been referred to the government. In April, the NHS committed to build a 68-bed centre alongside a private sector-owned nursing home there. But the plans were scaled back in October, taking away the provision of an outpatient service. This referral comes as a blow to finance managers in charge of the purse strings for South Gloucestershire NHS, which is facing a £3.3m deficit with no prospect of being bailed out this time. They say they cannot afford to have Cosham and Yate Community Hospitals half empty. But health campaigners fear they will only have a nursing home built on the Frenchay site and some patients will be left languishing in their beds, with inadequate nursing care. Read more ...
Any GP you want: so long as you're healthy.
Simon Wessely, head of the department of psychological medicine, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, writes: Patients will be able to pick a GP wherever they like next year, Jeremy Hunt has announced. The health secretary says it's about improved patient choice and healthy competition – the better GPs will attract more patients, get more income, and be able to invest more in their practice. What's not to like? For some, rather a lot. The link between general practitioners and the population they serve has been fundamental to the running of the NHS. And for good reasons. Health services are planned around the GP as the patient's "medical home": community and mental health services, district nurses and much more are linked to the local surgery. GPs act as the eyes and ears of local communities. But what now ? You decide to register with a well-known doctor who understands why working people like you need to see a GP early (before the commute) or late in the evening – and is into holistic wellbeing. But unfortunately everybody for miles around has the same idea. So the practice can't say yes to everyone – it hasn't the staff or space, and it would defeat the object of delivering the personalised care that so attracts you. So, far from you choosing your doctor, it will be the doctor who chooses you.
Serco seeks NHS help to fill vacancies. Outsourcing giant Serco has asked NHS organisations for help filling vacancies at Suffolk Community Healthcare amid concerns over its performance. The company, which won the £140m three year contract to deliver community services in the county in 2012, currently has 72 vacancies for staff and has sought secondments from the NHS to fill gaps. HSJ understands the company asked two NHS organisations to supply band 5 nurses and physiotherapists, but the requests were turned down. Serco is believed to have underbid the price paid to the NHS trust that previously provided services in the area by about £10m and has subsequently said it does not expect to make a profit during the three year deal. Less than a month after taking on the service, Serco announced plans to axe 137 posts.
Health leaders question NHS progress, survey finds. Two in every five NHS senior leaders believe the health service is in a worse condition following the current government’s reorganisation, according to a survey by a consultancy firm. One-fifth believe that the standard of care provided to patients is worse now than it was a year ago, Moorhouse says. The biggest reorganisation in the history of the health service is said by the government to have been designed to improve patient care, but research by Moorhouse found a substantial proportion of those working at the top of the NHS were critical of recent changes.
Providers set to challenge CCG tendering decisions in blow to integration agenda. Providers are increasingly looking to challenge CCGs’ tendering decisions on the basis they require integrated working, in a blow to the Government’s moves to promote greater integration, experts have warned. Procurement experts and leading GPs have told Pulse that providers – mainly smaller ones, and including a standard GMS practice – are considering appeals against CCGs based on their tendering processes to either the healthcare watchdog or even the courts. One procurement expert said she had collected a list of ‘a dozen’ providers who are building challenges, with the majority of these based on the requirements of some CCGs for providers to work with other organisations, which could be considered to be against UK and European competition laws, the expert said. This is despite the Government’s claims that its competition regulations – set out in Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act, and based on European competition regulations – will not affect moves towards integrated working.
Criminalising nurses doesn't make sense. The government has announced plans to criminalise ‘wilful neglect’ in the health service. The proposal - part of the response to the Francis and Berwick reports into the causes of poor care - looks like a desperate attempt to be ‘seen to be doing something’. Meanwhile, the real causes of unsatisfactory care such as understaffing remain unaddressed.