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Letter on future of urgent care in Gloucestershire to Stroud newspapers

Thursday, 18 August 2016 12:59
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Dear Editor,

Let’s be clear: the reduction in opening hours of Stroud Minor Illness & Injuries Unit is a cut in service. It goes against the core NHS principles of universal, comprehensive, easy to access care.  

Already in Stroud we have fought unwise and expensive attempts to privatise our local district hospitals. Other local NHS services have been handed to private companies - non-emergency ambulances to Arriva; hospital pharmacy services to Lloyds. Cheltenham A&E was downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit overnight. In 2014, Dursley’s Vale Hospital opening hours were reduced.  Susan Field (then Director of Service Transformation) said that cut was partly about “enabling us to keep the MIU service at Stroud General Hospital running 24 hours a day.”[1]  Now Stroud MIIU hours will be cut as well.

Unsurprisingly, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust has been missing the target to treat 95% of Accident & Emergency (A&E) patients within four hours every month for a year.

What have Gloucestershire Care Services and the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group done to assess the impact of changes to MIIU opening hours on Out Of Hours and urgent care services in Stroud and Gloucestershire? Local Out of Hours provision is already in turmoil as the NHS trust currently providing the service has said the constraints of their contract mean they cannot continue to do so effectively (with the service having been closed for 560 hours at The Dilke, and 195 hours here in Stroud in a single year).[2]  We need answers.

Of course, services must have sufficient staff to provide safe, high-quality care. Ultimately, attention must be directed to the national context of sustained government attacks on the NHS - including a pay freeze, cuts to training and the scrapping of nurse training bursaries, and the attacks on junior doctors - that are producing financial stress, constant re-organisation, privatisation of services, and demoralised doctors and nurses retiring early, leaving the profession, or emigrating. Nurse's pay, for instance, has fallen by at least 14% in real terms thanks to the government's public sector pay freeze. RCN Chief Executive, Janet Davies, says the current shortage of nurses was “a preventable crisis, caused by years of cuts to student nurse commissions and a lack of long-term workforce planning”.[3]

We fear for the future of local NHS services under the latest round of reorganisation:  Like other areas, Gloucestershire is currently working on a ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ behind closed doors, to deliver its share of a £22bn cut in funding, that will involve “the consolidation of unsustainable services”
[4]. In other words, services will be closed - potentially soon. Nationally, 14 A&Es were closed or downgraded between May 2010 and October 2014.[5]  Last week Grantham A&E in Lincolnshire cut its opening time by 14 hours[6] for three months.

We need to ask, what makes these services ‘unsustainable’? Political decisions, wasting billions on a needless expensive system of markets and competition to give the private sector a toehold, and a destructive attack on the NHS’s most precious asset – it’s workers.

How can Neil Carmichael say he supports Stroud Hospital, whilst supporting all this?

We encourage anyone who can, to visit the Trust’s Information bus from 10-11.30am on Monday 22nd August on King St – and to sign the Labour Party’s online petition to “Ensure 24 hour, urgent care is provided at the Minor Injuries Unit at Stroud Hospital”, which can be found at

Yours sincerely,

Stroud Against the Cuts

[2] SWAST said: “within the current contractual constraints, the trust does not have the resources to improve the service to a level that is satisfactory” - Patients faced with closures of out-of-hours GP services”, Gloucestershire Live

[4]Strengthening financial performance and accountability in 2016/17”, NHS Improvement, 21st July 2016 (page 10 of pdf linked on page)

[5] Dozens of maternity and A&E units shut”, The Telegraph, 26 October 2014. In June, two community hospitals in Derbyshire were earmarked for closure. Chorley Hospital in Lancashire was ‘temporarily’ downgraded in April, but recently announced it will not be reopening as an A&E as planned in August (“Chorley Hospital A&E unit to remain closed over doctor shortage”, BBC New Lancashire, 28th July 2016)

[6]Grantham A&E opening times slashed by more than 14 hours”, Lincolnshire Echo, 11th August 2016


Save our Hospitals - campaigning for Stroud's Minor Injuries Unit and urgent and out of hours care in Gloucestershire

Sunday, 07 August 2016 13:24
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Gloucestershire Care Services are proposing to cut the opening hours of the Minor Injuries and Illness Units at Stroud, Cirencester and Dilke and/or Lydney Hospitals - closing Stroud and Cirencester overnight. There are major questions hanging over Stroud Hospital, Out of Hours healthcare and provision of Urgent Care in Gloucestershire after these changes, with the government's massive cuts and secretive plans for reorganisation of the NHS threatening the future of District Hospitals.


Join our Rally at Stroud Hospital - defend our NHS - 7pm Monday 22nd August. Read our letter to local papers on the future of urgent care in Gloucestershire.


Stroud Labour Party have organised a petition to "Ensure 24 hour, urgent care is provided at the Minor Injuries Unit at Stroud Hospital". At time of writing they have collected over 500 paper and online signatures. Meanwhile 1,481 people have signed Liberal Democrat councillor Joe Harris’ petition calling on NHS bosses to keep Cirencester's MIIU open 24hours. We at Stroud Against the Cuts have attended two engagement sessions locally, and have begun leafletting about these changes - as we will on Saturday 20th August (meeting 10am High St/Kendrick St) and Monday 22nd August (meeting 10am Kings St). Please join us at our Rally at Stroud Hospital on Monday 22nd August at 7pm. Contact James Beecher on 07734 058789 for more information.


The proposals form part of a "Review of Minor Injuries and Illness Units in Gloucestershire" that is being conducted by Gloucestershire Care Services (GCS). You can download/read the booklet online in pdf form: MIIU information booklet (pdf). The booklet outlines the reasons for change to the existing services and the three options to be discussed. "Discussions with the public" (not a formal consultation) will take place till 31st August, with a final decision being made by the NHS Trust at its board meeting on 20th September 2016. GCS say that feedback received will be compiled into an outcome report and used to inform a new operating model for MIIUs that will begin on 1st October 2016. A short video produced by Gloucestershire Care Services explains:

On Monday 22nd August 10am-11.30am, GCS will have an bus in King St with information and an opportunity to respond. In addition to the petition above, you can respond to the "engagement exercise" via a reply-paid card available from community hospitals, engagement events, GP surgeries, libraries, or else by completing the online survey (we also have copies of the cards and the information booklets available - contact us via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). 

Alongside this review and engagement exercise, Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (GCCG) is perparing a strategic reviews into Urgent Care. GCS say that any outcome for our MIIUs may be subject to further change in light of this.


With Cheltenham A&E already downgraded to an MIIU overnight, and the A&E at Gloucester Hospital struggling to cope partly as a result, Stroud Against the Cuts believes these closures are unacceptable. We also feel it is essential to place these cuts in the national context, with Government policy producing the financial stress, fragmentation and falls in morale among healthworkers that is resulting in these closures.

Most recently, the hospital sector is being increasingly bullied by NHS England and local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to take drastic steps to address an end of year gap between funding needed and that provided of £2.5 billion. The latest instrument to be adopted to achieve drastic "efficiency savings" and cuts has been the reorganisation of the NHS since the beginning of the year into 44 "footprint" areas. Each of these areas has been required to draw up a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) - to make cuts over a 5 year period. Health Campaigns Together has established an STP Watch page on its website collating information. John Lister, who took part in our recent weekend of NHS events in Stroud has written an article which explains: "Is the new 'collaboration' in the NHS merely a way to make cuts?" A national conference has been called for September 17 in Birmingham, where we hope campaigners from across the country will share and develop their understanding of the STPs, the plight of their local NHS, and the responses that have worked.



Media coverage: 

"Petition launched to keep Stroud Hospital's Minor Injuries Unit open overnight" - Gloucestershire Live

"Massive Cuts to minor injuries units in Gloucestershire" - Gloucestershire Live

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 August 2016 00:01

Our Open Letter on new parking system at Beeches Green Health Clinic - to PropCo and ParkingEye

Saturday, 16 July 2016 12:56
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Dear PropCo and Parking Eye, [the former manages land at NHS sites, the latter
is the company contracted to run parking systems at Beeches Green]

Re: Installation of number plate recognition equipment at Beeches Green Health Centre in Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 4BH.

We are a Stroud-based community action group and we have received a number of complaints regarding the new parking system at Beeches Green. We have sent the following to PropCo and Parking Eye.

We would like to register our disapproval – we believe the new system is unnecessary and is resulting in unfair and unjustifiable impacts. Neither patients nor people who work in NHS/Social Care at the site should be forced to pay to park.

Staff in the various facilities at Beeches Green report many patients – daily - complaining of confusion regarding the use of the registration machines, many unsure if they are meant to be paying or registering for free parking. The signs are complicated and the two sections of car park (free/paid) are not clearly defined as separate - those with literacy problems may have difficulty with the signs (1% of the population are illiterate and 4% severely dyslexic). Many patients have paid unnecessarily due to fear of charges from Parking Eye and many more have simply not realised that they had to register, resulting in fines. For a several weeks, the pay machines were broken – with several people being fined as a result due to their not having access to the mobile phone app which was presented as the only alternative way to pay.

We have spoken to members of staff who tell us that they had never received reports of patients being unable to park under the previous system, though parking was sometimes difficult. When parking became difficult in the past, the caretaker was very successful in preventing non-NHS users from leaving their cars at the site.

The new system does not only prevent non-NHS users, but also excludes users and staff of services relating to the new Redwood building and the mammography unit. Previously, many of the people working in this new building were able to park within other parts of the estate. As a part of the NHS, users and staff of the breast screening unit were also able to park for free. Now we have a system where staff and users of some – but not all – NHS and social care services have to pay to park. This has led, amongst other things, to the breast-screening unit moving to a site further from the town centre, creating inconvenience and confusion for those accessing the services.

We request answers to the following queries:

Please can we have sight of the impact assessment carried out prior to installation of the new system?

Please can you explain why those using the Blue Badge scheme have to pay for parking when they use NHS services not within the older health centre or podiatry unit?

Please can you clarify the legal basis for escalation of parking charges (a £100 charge is threatened if £60 is not paid in the first two weeks)? Can you confirm that it is the case that the number plate recognition cameras/computer will record length of stay and that fines should be comparable to the applicable rate for parking?

Please can you provide details of the cost of the installation and its up-keep vs the cost of using a car park attendant?

Yours sincerely,

Stroud Against The Cuts
Last Updated on Saturday, 16 July 2016 12:59

Celebrating the anniversary of the NHS - press release

Friday, 01 July 2016 15:56
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Press Release 01/07/2016 - Stroud Against the Cuts

Campaigners to celebrate 68th birthday of NHS

What: Celebratory gathering with 1940s music, open mic for tributes and speeches, facepainting, ‘NHS colours’ theme

Where: Pocket Park, next to Trinity Hall, opposite Stroud Hospital

When: 6-8pm Tuesday 5th July, photo-call 6.30pm

Contact: James Beecher – 07734 058789 | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Following a weekend of events exploring the past, present and future of the NHS held at Stroud Valleys Artspace last week, community group Stroud Against the Cuts are holding a small gathering to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the NHS on 5th July 1948, and are inviting people to attend to share stories of their experiences.

The event comes as the overnight closure of the Minor Injuries Unit at Stroud Hospital, and parking fines at Beeches Green Health clinic are regular features in local news, and as questions arise over whether funding for the NHS will increase as hinted by the successful Vote Leave campaign.

Earlier this year, NHS doctors took historically unprecedented strike action and Gloucestershire has recently seen the A&E at Cheltenham downgraded, non-emergency ambulances handed over to private company Arriva to manage, and some NHS pharmacy services now handed to Lloyds Pharmacy. Nationally, waiting lists are up and there are widespread stories of access to and quality of treatment declining.

James Beecher, one of Stroud Against the Cuts organisers’ said: “On the NHS’s birthday we’ll be celebrating its founding principles and its importance to healthcare provision. It is necessary to have a health system that enables access to healthcare when you need it, provided by well-trained, well-rewarded workers. We want a health system that provides comprehensive, high quality care – promptly and universally, and paid for in the fairest way – through progressive taxation. To be affordable, such a system will need to be publicly owned and run – which is far more efficient. All of this has been under threat in recent decades, but it has rarely been more important than now that we come together to defend and extend the NHS.”

Recently the group held a weekend of events featuring international health policy expert John Lister, a Corporate Watch workshop on researching the private companies taking over the NHS, and advice for health and social care workers, as well as film screenings, music and comedy. Stroud Against the Cuts led a successful campaign in 2011/12 to defend local community health services from privatisation, and is set to launch a petition against the parking fines and arrangements at Beeches Green.


International Health Policy Expert to speak at weekend of NHS events - Press Release

Tuesday, 14 June 2016 09:43
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Press Release – 14/06/2016 – Stroud Against the Cuts

International Health Policy Expert to speak at weekend of NHS events

Support for event from The Retreat, which held an NHS Pub Quiz on Monday 13th

‘Healthcare for all’ is a special NHS weekend of events organised by community group Stroud Against the Cuts that will take place at the Stroud Valleys Artspace and nearby venues from 5pm on Friday 17th till 5pm on Sunday 19th June. The event will include:

  • Keynote speech from Dr John Lister (3.30-4.30pm, Saturday 18th
  • Screening of Michael Moore documentary (7-9pm, Saturday 18th
  • An informative photographic exhibition (open 10am-5pm Saturday and Sunday)
  • A day of information and workshops (Saturday 10am-5pm)
  •  A comedy night (7pm-late, Friday 17th), and more

Providing a keynote speech at the event from 3.30-4.30pm at Stroud Baptist Church is international health policy expert John Lister, of Health Emergency. Dr Lister is a Senior Lecturer in Journalism, and Health Journalism at the Coventry University Department of Media and Communication with a PhD in Health Policy. He is a founder member of Keep Our NHS Public, and a board member of the International Association of Health Policy. In 2008, to mark the 60th anniversary of the National Health Service, John researched and wrote a major book: The NHS After 60, for Patients or Profits. He is also the author of two books on international health reform: Health Policy Reform: Driving the Wrong Way? and Global Health vs. Private Profit, and one of the authors of NHS For Sale – Myths, Lies & Deceptions, published last year (copies of which will be available at the event).

John will presenting a keynote speech on the past, present and future of the NHS, followed by a panel debate with Stroud’s Caroline Molloy, Editor of campaigning journalism website OurNHS openDemocracy. All weekend there will be an exhibition at the Line Gallery in John St - "How Come We Didn't Know" - featuring Keep Our NHS Public member Marion Macalpine's series of photographs exploring the hidden privatisation of our NHS, which has been touring the UK.

Stroud pub The Retreat is supporting the event with drinks for the exhibition Private View, and donated £50 as part of a pub quiz on Monday night which featured NHS questions supplied by Stroud Against the Cuts.

The weekend event will also feature a workshop on researching privatisation from Corporate Watch, and advice for health and social care workers from a member of a successful campaign against NHS-privatisation in Bristol. HEARTBEAT! A night of comedy, video and music at the SVA, John St. on Friday night – run in chatshow format by Joe Reeve as Elvis will feature stand-up poet Jonny Fluffypunk, Stroud’s female improvisational trio Brewhaha and Brighton-based psychology lecturer and author Dr Carl Walker’s ‘Picked Up, Patched Up and Sent Home’ show, – as well as music from Stroud Global Beats. A ‘Doctors and Nurses’-themed closing party will be hosted by the popular Vine Club on Saturday night (tickets £7 / £6 in advance). Full details are available on the Stroud Against the Cuts website.

James Beecher, one of the organisers of the event said: “We hope our ‘Healthcare for all’ weekend will help people understand what is happening to the NHS and inspire them to take action – we’re really excited to be bringing such knowledgeable speakers to Stroud, and would encourage people not to miss the opportunity to learn from them.

Notes for editors:

1. Details of the NHS weekend are available on SATC’s website, and further information about each of the events is available on Facebook: How Come We Didnt Know? NHS Privatisation Photographic Exhibition Friday 17th -Sunday 19th June, Heartbeat! A night of NHS Comedy, Video & Music - Friday 17th June, 7pm – late, Saving our NHS - workshops, talks & stalls - Saturday 18th June 10am-6pm, SiCKO - Stroud screening of Michael Moore doc - Saturday 18th June 7-9pm, Vine Club- Doctors & Nurses – Saturday 18th June 9.30 – late.


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