Campaigners and Councillors raise concerns over plans for Gloucestershire’s NHS
Last Updated ( Monday, 27 March 2017 15:54 )
Campaigners and Councillors raise concerns over plans for Gloucestershire’s NHS - PRESS RELEASE
Contact: James Beecher 07734 058789 - photographs available on request
On Wednesday 22nd March, campaigners from Stroud Against the Cuts[i] handed 775 signed postcards over to Gloucestershire County Councillors. The postcards – which call on councillors to “speak out against the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) as councillors have done elsewhere” – were collected by the group at its week-long campaign hub and exhibition on Stroud High St in February.[ii]
Councillors from the Labour Party and Liberal Democrats the Green Party’s Councillor Sarah Lunnon raised their concerns about the STP, and Ms Lunnon - who was attending her final Full Council Meeting before she steps down in May – formally delivered the stack of 775 postcards to Gloucestershire County Council Leader Mark Hawthorne (Conservative, Quedgeley).
The 775 postcards were signed by individuals who say they are “deeply concerned” about the £226 million of savings in the plan. Campaigners also raise questions over “a £100m million hole in the capital budget”, saying “The only answers as to how this hole will be filled are hints that the county’s hospital assets will be sold off, or handed over to ‘third party developers’/PFI.”
The number of signed postcards collected in an empty shop in Stroud in one week (775) is higher than the number of responses to Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group’s formal questionnaire for the public, which formed part of its three-month, county-wide “engagement campaign” (638).[iii] Stroud Against the Cuts members said the questionnaire was confusing, and that the issues of cuts, potential closures and possible privatisation of services were not communicated.
James Beecher, spokesperson for Stroud Against the Cuts, said: “We don’t know what the feedback to the formal consultation process on the STP looks like yet, but 638 responses to the 6,250 guides the CCG sent out can’t be considered to demonstrate public support for the plans. By contrast, in just a week we were able to collect 775 postcards from deeply concerned people. If we’d collected for longer, or had any budget to collect responses, we know we could have collected signatures from many more than 775 people who do not believe services in Gloucestershire can sustain a further £226 million of cuts, and who are worried about further privatisation of NHS services.
Christine Stockwell of Stroud Against the Cuts added: “In our view the poor response to the consultation reflects the lack of detail in the STP which made it very difficult for people to make meaningful responses because they have not been provided with the detail of changes to services, how they would be reconfigured, whether they would be rationed or cut. The STP was couched in jargon which most members of the public would be unfamiliar with, and it did not give specifics or examples to illustrate what was meant. There was no reasonable basis for public to properly assess the proposals. For a plan that could change the shape of our local NHS so dramatically, this is not good enough.”
Cllr Lesley Williams (Labour, Stonehouse) said: “I am thoroughly concerned about what the STP means for the NHS in Gloucestershire. We are already seeing the effects of seven years of austerity measures, and I am worried about what could happen to all our local NHS services. Councilors have been kept in the dark, as have residents, over the STP, but we will not stop until we know what it means for all of us."
Cllr Sarah Lunnon (Green, Stroud Central) noted that the UK spends less on healthcare than many other European countries. She continued "rather than looking at ways to reduce even further the amount spent per head via the STP, investing in un-proven IT and reducing local community service, Government, both local and national needs to address the growing issues of social care and life style diseases - so we remain health and are safe and protected when we need help". Cllr Lunnon added "The STP is a cloak for hospital closures and service cuts and it is unfortunate that the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council has endorsed this strategy with what appears to be a £100M funding gap - unless of course he knows something which Councillors don't".
Joe Harris (Liberal Democrat, Cirencester Park) said: "I'm growing increasingly concerned that the STPs will mean cuts to local NHS services such as our community hospitals, we've already seen Cirencester and Stroud Hospital's overnight Minor Injury Units closed. STPs should protect and enhance local services as the NHS adapts to deal with an ageing population."
[i] Stroud Against the Cuts is a community group started in November 2010. In 2011-12 it led a successful campaign to prevent community health services in Gloucestershire being handed to a so-called ‘social enterprise’ outside the NHS. For more information: www.stroudagainstcuts.co.uk
[iii] Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group shared the following recently: “In order to raise public awareness about Gloucestershire’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP), activity so far has included:
- 6,250 STP short guides have been distributed across the county
- social media stories about STP themes have reached 15,306 people
- there have been 10,749 hits on the STP website
There has also been a 3 month engagement campaign which concluded last Saturday: this included the following:
- there were more than 50 drop-in events / information sessions across the county, giving 1,224 members of the public the opportunity to air their thoughts about the STP
- 638 people completed the STP questionnaire
- social media activity regarding the engagement activity reached 44,146 people
the feedback is currently being analysed with details to follow”
Letter to local papers re: NHS exhibition and Gloucestershire STP
Last Updated ( Monday, 20 March 2017 12:10 )
The letter below was published in the Stroud News & Journal as "Reader's Letter: ‘Thanks for coming to hub’":
We would like to express our thanks to everyone who attended our NHS exhibition and campaign hub on Stroud High St from February 4th-11th. We wanted to raise awareness about the Gloucestershire NHS five-year “Sustainability and Transformation Plan”, which claims that – through partnership between the County Council and local health bosses in the Clinical Commissioning Group - a plan has been made to provide more joined up care to meet people’s needs more effectively despite huge funding pressures. SATC believes that cuts to services and sell offs are being hidden as the plan demands £226 million of savings and there is a £100 million hole in the capital budget, the local share of a national £22 billion gap in funding provided and the estimated requirement.
Our “Hands Off our NHS” postcard asks all County Councillors to robustly defend Gloucestershire NHS services against further loss of hospital beds and services by opposing the local plan and the government’s underfunding of the NHS and social care. The plans are a fantasy wish list, heavily dependent on the NHS spending large sums on IT, with no guarantees about the future of our hospitals, and with no evidence to back them up. Although the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council is a signatory to the plan, financial and other details have not been made available to the public or even to our elected representatives. We fear that information is being withheld because of the County Council elections which are happening in May - not having the detail is a significant restraint on the democratic process.
Health Campaigns Together – joint organisers of the national protest in London this Saturday, believe that “by trying to engage local authorities into signing off STPs, NHS England has for the first time opened up the possibility of forcing some accountability” (through our elected councillors). We urge our County Councillors to speak out, and are encouraging our Gloucestershire politicians to follow the example of those in other areas who have successfully opposed their local STPs.
This government is making a political choice to underfund the NHS, to close and privatise services and to reduce our access to healthcare as the system becomes more like the disastrous one in America. We hope people will join us on the coach to London or at our stall on Kings St at 12 noon this Saturday to show their support for a publicly-funded, publicly-owned NHS providing comprehensive, universal care on the basis of need not ability to pay, and to demonstrate their opposition to this government’s policies.
Caroline Molloy, Editor of ourNHS openDemocracy campaigning journalism website, and James Beecher, Chris Stockwell, Hannah Basson, Stroud Against the Cuts
Questions about Gloucestershire's Children's Centres
An anonymous parent from Bishops Cleeve has passed on the following FOI request regarding the County Council's changes to Children's Centres locally:
I have a number of questions regarding the Targeted Family Support Service and the process that was followed by Gloucestershire County Council to fundamentally change the provision that will be offered going forwards.
Are all of the Children's Centres involved within this change of provision defined as Sure Start Children's Centres, as per the statutory guidance for Children's Centres issued by Department for Education (DFE)?
Would implementation of the new Targeted Family Support Service mean that the definition of Early Childhood Services (as defined within the statutory guidance) would no longer apply going forwards?
Please can you provide details of other legislation that will no longer apply once you move to the new Targeted Family Support Service model?
Does a change in provision from a Sure Start Children's Centre to Early Childhood Services mean that going forwards Gloucestershire County Council will not be bound by other legislation; in particular Childcare Act 2006, sections; 1, 2, 3, 4, 5A, 5C, 5D, 5E and 98C?
Please can you provide further details of how the new Targeted Family Support Service will meet the current statutory duty placed upon local authorities by Section 1 of Childcare Act 2006 to improve the wellbeing of and reduce inequalities between young children?
Please can you confirm how the new model complies with Chapter 2 of the statutory guidance issued by DFE? In particular to 'ensure there are sufficient children's centres, so far as is reasonably practicable, to meet local need.'?
If it is not reasonably practicable for GCC to ensure that there are sufficient children's centres, then please explain why you believe this to be the case?
Please can you provide details of evidence gathered by GCC to demonstrate how the new model will enable you to meet your priority of reducing child poverty (Chapter 3 of statutory guidance issued by DFE)?
What actions have you taken to ensure children's centres offer differentiated support to young children and their families, according to their needs (Chapter 3 of statutory guidance issued by DFE)?
Given that the changes being made are significant and reduce services to the extent that they no longer meet the statutory definition of a Sure Start children's centre (as defined by Chapter 2 of the statutory guidance issued by DFE), please provide further details on how GCC complied with its legal duty to consult?
Please provide details on how any such consultation took into account:
Wider duties under section 17 of the Childcare Act 1989 and the Child Poverty Act 2010?
The views of local families and communities in deciding what is sufficient children's centre provision?
Families crossing local authority borders to use children's centres in their authority?
We aim to respond to your request no later than midnight on 11 April 2017 (the statutory timescale of 20 working days, starting on the working day following receipt of your request). We may need to contact you if the request needs to be clarified; this is to ensure we provide you with the information you require.
If the information you have requested is held by another public authority, we will inform you of this so that you can contact them directly.
Gloucestershire County Council is committed to the principles of information disclosure and will, wherever possible, provide all information requested. However, some information you have requested may not be provided to you; this will only be information that can be withheld by law, and, in most cases, the reason will be explained to you when we send out any information that can be released. We will also inform you as soon as possible if we do not hold the information you have requested.
Our response to your request may be published in our disclosure log, with your personal details removed. Our new disclosure log can be found on our website at: www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/foi<http://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/foi>. In future, you may find that the answer to your questions about the Council has already been published.
Gloucestershire campaigners to march on Parliament as part of national NHS protest
Last Updated ( Monday, 27 February 2017 19:39 )
Press Release 27/02/2017 – Stroud Against the Cuts - Contact James Beecher: 07734 058789
Gloucestershire campaigners to march on Parliament as part of national NHS protest
Around 100 people from Gloucestershire will take coaches from Stroud, Gloucester and Cheltenham to the national “It’s Our NHS” demonstration organised by Health Campaigns Together and The People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
Stroud Against the Cuts will also hold a stall on Kings St – next to their window display in the former Thomsons Travel shop opposite Barclays.
Saturday 4th March. Coaches will leave to arrive in London for the demonstration which starts at 12 noon. The stall in Kings St will operate from 11am – 1pm with a photo-call at 12 to coincide with the start of the demonstration in London
Campaigners against NHS cuts, closures and privatisation will join thousands of people from around the country in a march on Parliament this Saturday 4th March. Stroud Against the Cuts (SATC), which is affiliated to the national group Keep Our NHS Public, have organised a coach from Stroud to go to the rally. Tickets are available from www.tinyurl.com/stroud-nhs-coach, or via James on 07734 058789 - and coaches from Cheltenham and Gloucester have been organised by Cheltenham & Gloucester Against Cuts. SATC is also organising a protest outside their window display on Kings St (opposite Barclays) for people who cannot go to London, but wish to show their support. A variety of posters, produced by the public at a recent pop up NHS exhibition in Stroud, will be turned into placards and made available to people attending the NHS protest.
James Beecher said “This government is making a political choice to underfund the NHS, to close and privatise services and to reduce our access to healthcare as the system becomes more like the disastrous one in America. The news has been full of terrible stories recently – but these are the direct results of government policies over the past 6 years, not the fault of patients, health workers, or the principles of the NHS. We hope people will join us on the coach to London or at our stall on Kings St at 12noon to show their support for a publicly-funded, publicly-owned NHS providing comprehensive, universal care on the basis of need not ability to pay, and to demonstrate their opposition to this government’s policies.”
The protest comes as local campaigners have been highlighting private company Care UK’s takeover of the management of Out Of Hours care in Gloucestershire, and concerns about the new 5-year Gloucestershire “Sustainability and Transformation Plan”. Opposition to the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs) which have been produced for 44 areas in England, have been attracting much national press coverage. Stroud Against the Cuts is encouraging councillors in Gloucestershire to follow the example of other councils who have successfully opposed their local STPs. Although the Chief Executive of Gloucestershire County Council is a signatory to the plan, financial and other details have not been made available to the public or even to our elected representatives.
Writing in a letter to the Editor today, Caroline Molloy, Editor of Open Democracy Our NHS, and colleagues in Stroud Against the Cuts said “SATC believes that cuts to services and sell offs are being hidden as the plan demands £226 million of savings and there is a £100 million hole in the capital budget. Our “Hands Off Our NHS” postcard asks all County Councillors to robustly defend Gloucestershire NHS services against further loss of hospital beds and services by opposing the local plan and the government’s underfunding of the NHS and social care. The plans are a fantasy wish list, heavily dependent on the NHS spending large sums on IT, with no guarantees about the future of our hospitals, and with no evidence to back them up. Not having the detail is a significant restraint on the democratic process.”