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. The below 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 to 10/03/2014
Our NHS: Caroline Molloy - Coalition MPs vote through sweeping hospital closure powers. The controversial Clause 119 of the Care Bill, dubbed the ‘Hospital Closure Clause’, has won a crucial vote in the Commons. The decision is likely to be met with anger by campaigners... The Clause broke the Coalition Agreement promise to "end the centrally mandated closure of A&E and maternity wards", instead making it far easier, many Labour MPs alleged. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, did not attend until the closing summary of the debate, a move which was labelled as "extraordinary" by Grahame Morris MP and seemed to leave some on his own benches unimpressed... Many MPs highlighted the importance of local hospitals, and concerns that increasing financial difficulties could suck more hospitals and other health services into ‘backdoor reconfiguration’ if the Clause was passed. Read the full article here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/caroline-molloy/coalition-mps-vote-through-sweeping-hospital-closure-powers
Clive Peedell - Outsourcing cancer care - the biggest and most reckless NHS privatisation yet? In the biggest outsourcing to date, the NHS has announced it is tendering a huge £700 million contract for providing NHS cancer care in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, along with another £500million for end of life care in the region. It’s a dramatic indication of the rapidly increasing commercialisation and privatisation of the NHS. In the messy fight over the Health & Social Care Act, during the ‘listening pause’ the Coalition promised parliament the changes they had made to the legislation included “ruling out any question of privatisation”... Private sector providers will only be interested in managing the high volume, low complexity work, leaving more complex and uncommon cancer care to the established NHS centres. The NHS will lose both government money and already scarce staff to the private sector. Read the full article here: http://www.opendemocracy.net/ournhs/clive-peedell/outsourcing-cancer-care-biggest-and-most-reckless-nhs-privatisation-yet
Our NHS: Andrew Causon: "The NHS, the LibDems & the "Undesirable Contact Man"." Last month one of the Lib Dems biggest donors, Sudhir Choudhrie and his son Bhanu Choudhrie, were arrested by the Serious Fraud Office in connection with alleged bribes paid by Rolls-Royce (makers of military jets) to the Chinese and Indonesian governments. The Choudhries and their healthcare business Alpha Health are one of the Lib Dems largest donors, giving them a total of £1.26 million over the last 10 years, including hefty individual donations. In November last year Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes accepted a £60,000 donation from Sudhir Choudhrie. At the time of their arrest the Guardian reported that Sudhir Choudhrie was on the Indian government`s list of "dubious" middlemen whom government agencies must keep at arm's length. The official term is "Undesirable Contact Men" (UCM)... A few months later, in March 2004 Choudhrie’s healthcare business Alpha Health gave the Lib Dems their first £10,000. In September that year the Orange Book – Reclaiming Liberalism was published. This was a collection of essays by the party`s right-wingers, included one on “reforming” the NHS by disgraced former banker David Laws. On May 2005 Alpha Health made its second donation; this time of £100,000. Five months later, Nick Clegg, then a leading candidate for party leader gave an interview to The Independent, where he told Marie Woolf: “One very, very important point – I think breaking up the NHS is exactly what you do need to do to make it a more responsive service. I don’t think anything should be ruled out.” Read full article
Daily Mirror: "Firm with links to top Tory sucks £2.6 million from NHS 'reforms' he helped push through."
A firm boasting a close advisor to the PM on its board of directors has sucked £2.6m from the NHS in 10 months by filling vacancies caused by Tory health reforms. Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi – who helped push the controversial GPs’ funding system through the Commons – was appointed non-executive director of recruitment firm SThree in 2008. And the firm has been staffing new Clinical Commissioning Groups set up under the Health and Social Care Bill, via an arm of its international business specialising in “Healthcare & Life Sciences sectors” called Real Staffing... Dr Clive Peedell of the National Health Action Party, said: “It looks like a collosal amount of money going out of the NHS which could be spent on direct patient care instead of going to shareholders.” Read the full article
(worth pointing again, at this point, to this "Compilation of Parliamentary Financial Links to Private Healthcare", by Social Investigations)
BBC News: 'Worrying shortage of senior NHS nurses'.
The NHS has lost nearly 4,000 senior nursing posts since 2010, putting patient care at risk, warns the Royal College of Nursing (RCN). The void includes ward sisters, community matrons and specialist nurses and has been brought about by cost saving reorganisation, it says. According to the most recent data, in November 2013, the NHS was still short of 1,199 full time equivalent (FTE) registered nurses compared with April 2010. The RCN says that hidden within wider nursing workforce cuts are a significant loss and devaluation of skills and experience in the NHS, with 3,994 FTE nursing staff working in senior positions. Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN said: " These cuts are a short-term attempt by trusts to find efficiency savings, yet they will lead to a very serious and very long-term crisis in our health service." Read the full article
Also covered in Hospital Doctor here:
The Financial Times: "Private groups invited to help NHS buy services." The NHS has for the first time asked the private sector to help purchase billions of pounds worth of services for hospitals and GPs. NHS England on Tuesday advertised for companies to compete for work worth at least £5bn advising the new doctor-led clinical commissioning groups, which spend more than two-thirds of the NHS budget buying care for patients... It also highlights the opportunities for private sector investment in the service despite political sensitivity. Roughly 30 bidders, including Serco, Optum, part of United Health, and Assura, are expected to compete for the work, which will see them appointed to a “framework” of preferred suppliers, which can be used by hospitals and GPs to buy services more quickly.Voluntary sector providers, local authorities and NHS organisations are also expected to bid, many in partnership with private sector companies such as Capita or KPMG, for example.
Rabble: Story on Allyson Pollock talk on the privatisation of England's NHS, given in Canada. Pollock is the Founder and, between 2005-2011, co-ordinator for the Centre for International Public Health Policy University of Edinburgh.. Read the full story here: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/penney-kome/2014/03/p3s-are-pox-on-public-purse-allyson-pollock-3
South Yorkshire Times: "Further strike action for Doncaster care staff."
Care UK staff in Doncaster are set for a further seven-day strike after union members could not come to an agreement with bosses over terms and conditions. Unison representative Jim Bell met with Care UK morning, when he gave legal notice of a further week-long industrial action. A seven-day strike was held last week after union members, who care for some of the most vulnerable people in society, voted overwhelmingly for action over management threats to slash their wages by up to 50%. Mr Bell said: “We had a meeting brought about by ACAS last Friday and heard the company had made marginal improvements on the transitional payments from 12 to 14 months, but there has been no movement on holidays or sick pay. We spent a day with ACAS and that offer was unanimously rejected. Members are 100 per cent committed to defending their terms.” Read the full article
Independent: "NHS faces ‘managed decline’ unless it is properly funded, says health chief."
The NHS cannot survive in its current form and problems could escalate to the point where anyone who can afford it will choose to go private, the chief executive of NHS England has warned. Read the full article
Read updates for previous weeks by clicking 'read more' below: