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Campaigners and Councillors raise concerns over plans for Gloucestershire’s NHS

Monday, 27 March 2017 15:51
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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”

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 27 March 2017 15:54
 

Letter to local papers re: NHS exhibition and Gloucestershire STP

Monday, 20 March 2017 10:43
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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.

 

Yours,

Caroline Molloy, Editor of ourNHS openDemocracy campaigning journalism website, and James Beecher, Chris Stockwell, Hannah Basson, Stroud Against the Cuts

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 20 March 2017 12:10
 

Gloucestershire campaigners to march on Parliament as part of national NHS protest

Sunday, 26 February 2017 23:11
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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

What:

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.


When:

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.”  

 

 

Last Updated on Monday, 27 February 2017 19:39
 

Campaigners' anger as another local NHS service privatised

Wednesday, 01 February 2017 15:49
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PRESS RELEASE - FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

For further information contact James Beecher 07734 058789

Campaigners' anger as another local NHS service privatised

 

Campaign group Stroud Against the Cuts has reacted angrily to news that Gloucestershire's Out of Hours primary care services are to be handed to private company Care UK (1).

 

James Beecher said: "We're angry that yet another local NHS service is set to be privatised. We've already seen terrible results when non-emergency ambulances were handed to Arriva (2), and now Out of Hours care is to be taken over by a company that was found to be discharging patients before they had been treated - with a 2015 ITV probe finding they put patients at “huge risk” (3). The company is well known for cutting care workers wages by up to 35% in Doncaster - prompting 90 days of strike action (4). The ongoing privatisation and underfunding of our NHS is exactly why we've organised a coach to take people to the National NHS demonstration on Saturday 4th March (5) - and are holding an exhibition about the damage being done by the government and how we can defend our health services from this Saturday 4th till Saturday 11th February, in the former Millets shop on Stroud High St (6)."

 

Notes for editors:

 

1. "CCG announce preferred bidder for the primary care Out of Hours service", Healthwatch Gloucestershire, 1st February 2017

2. E.g. "24 hours into new Gloucestershire ambulance service and patients had to wait hours for a lift", Gloucestershire Live, December 6th 2013

3. "Private NHS contractor 'boots out patients before finishing treatment to meet targets'", The Mirror, July 22nd 2015

4. "Care UK workers celebrate pay offer to end 90 days of strikes", The Guardian, November 8th 2014

5. National Demonstration - Coach from Stroud, details from Stroud Against the Cuts website

6. NHS Exhibition, details from Stroud Against the Cuts website

Last Updated on Wednesday, 01 February 2017 16:19
 

Cuts bombshell for Gloucestershire's NHS

Tuesday, 31 January 2017 22:52
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The text of our latest leaflet:

Cuts bombshell for Gloucestershire's NHS?

You’ve probably heard lots of news about problems in the NHS.
Now Stroud Against the Cuts have learned that Gloucestershire’s new plans for NHS include a £100 million hole in the budget. This is just one result of the government underfunding the NHS by at least £22 billion between now and 2020.
It’s a threat to our local hospitals and services.

 

The Gloucestershire Plan offers no guarantees of the future of our district hospitals – even though we’ve lost too many beds and local services already. They’ve hinted to Stroud Against the Cuts that Gloucestershire’s £100m financial hole will be filled by selling off more buildings, withdrawing NHS treatments and services - and more privatisation & PFI.


Gloucestershire NHS and County Council signed off more detailed plans and sent them to government before Christmas – but kept them secret from Gloucestershire residents. Will we only find out the truth after May’s County Council elections?


The government has said that the plans can be stopped by strong objections from councils - and other councils are opposing their local plans. Our Tory-led County Council claims these plans “aren’t cuts”, but in January the British Medical Association wrote to Prime Minister Theresa May telling her that the Tories must stop “presenting cuts as improvements in the face of palpably deteriorating services”.

Gloucestershire’s NHS has already been hit by:

  • Privatisation of hospital pharmacy, patient ambulances and more
  • Cuts to A&E opening times - Gloucester is now the only 24/7 A&E
  • ‘Phone/app-only’ services - replacing the Stop Smoking service
  • Bed shortages and longer waiting times – patients left waiting on trollies at Gloucester A&E!
  • GPs and other health workers leaving - fed up with government plans
     

What can you do?
Fill in a postcard to council leaders

Demanding they publicly oppose-the NHS cuts bombshell (‘Sustainability & Transformation Plan’).


Come to the National NHS Protest on Sat 4th March


Book a seat on the coach from Stroud at: tinyurl.com/stroud-nhs-coach or
contact James on 07734 058789 for a place (tickets £15/10/less if needed).
 

Learn more at our NHS exhibition - February 4th-11th


Come and talk to us and make protest placards to display and take to the March
4th demonstration at the former Millets shop on Stroud High St.
Open 9am-2pm Sat 4th & Sat 11th, 10-6pm Monday 6th-Friday 10th February.
 

It doesn’t have to be this way! Back the ‘NHS Reinstatement Bill’, to
end privatisation and save a fortune currently wasted on running the NHS as a
‘market’ just so private firms can bid for what they want: www.nhsbill2015.org
 

#ourNHS

no cuts | no closures | no privatisation
stroudagainstcuts.co.uk | 07734 058789 | Facebook and twitter: stroudanticuts

 

Last Updated on Tuesday, 31 January 2017 23:23
 


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