National KONP and NHS News
More Urgent than ever that NHS Campaigns stand against racism in all forms
We are deeply saddened at Keep Our NHS Public by the recent racist, terrorist attacks in New Zealand that have at the time of writing left 49 innocents dead. We send our solidarity and love to all our Muslim friends and supporters. Part of standing up for our universal, inclusive, publicly run and publicly owned NHS, is standing up against Islamophobia and racism of any kind. There is more that unites us than divides us, and that of course includes access to health care.
In the light of these attacks, it is now more urgent than ever that NHS Campaigners from local and national campaigns, from Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together and others join the block on tomorrow’s UN Anti-Racism Day Demonstration, Against Racism, Islamophobia and Anti-semitism meeting at Park Lane, Central London, at 12:00.
NHS staff, students and campaigners have organised an NHS Block on the demo and invite all NHS campaigners to march with them. Check out the NHS Block Facebook Event here. Please share and invite your friends!
How Come We Didn’t Know Event Report
How Come We Didn’t Know? The photographic exhibition by artist photographer Marion Macalpine of Hackney Keep Our NHS Public, on the under-reported, not to mention damaging corporate take-over of the NHS, was hosted by Labour Member of Parliament Eleanor Smith and Keep Our NHS Public on Wednesday night at the Houses of Parliament to inform and influence parliamentary political figures many of whom are woefully unaware what is happening on their watch.
The event was packed and many of the contributions from the floor were emotionally charged and powerful.
The exhibition explores the diverse forms that privatisation takes, including PFI contracts; private health companies masquerading as NHS including many GP clinics and diagnostic centres; private hospitals which cherry-pick ‘low risk’ patients; lucrative contracts for highly specialist treatment; healthcare corporations with a history of fraud or tax-avoidance.
The exhibition highlights critical links between politicians at all levels and private healthcare corporations. If you’re interesting in borrowing the exhibition, please email: [email protected]
You can see some of the images and find out more here.
Austerity and NHS cuts: wrecking our mental health
Despite all the rhetoric by this government on prioritising resources for mental health and commitment to parity of esteem, the reality is that time and again they have been very willing to use mental health as an easy target for funding cuts with very little regard to the human cost this has on arguably one of the most vulnerable patient groups.
We’ve come to expect the periodic announcements of ‘record funding’ from this government, but mental health trusts in England have in fact suffered budget cuts in real terms of just over 8% year on year since 2011. They have lost almost a third of all NHS mental health beds over the past decade and 6800 (15%) mental health nurse posts have gone.
This means a frequent struggle for staff to find beds to admit patients into and has extremely serious consequences for those in crisis and whose illness carries a risk to themselves or others. It means patients, including young children having to be moved hundreds of miles away from their homes and families to get to the nearest empty bed and it forces unacceptable practices where acutely unwell patients who are detained on section are having to wait for days or even weeks in busy A&E departments while a mental health bed becomes available.
Nowhere is this crisis more evident than in Child and Adolescent Mental Health where there have been years of negligent underfunding – most notably during the early years of the coalition government. By 2017 one third of children’s mental health services faced either downsizing or closure. This is causing completely needless suffering for young people who are not able to access care when they need it.
NHS Staff Survey results confirm the effect of a neglected system
The latest NHS staff survey published earlier this week reveals the effects of an underfunded and understaffed system on those who work in it, and highlights how their health and wellbeing is at risk
The NHS Staff Survey has been conducted annually since 2003 and is one of the largest in the world, open to 1.1 million people. This year nearly half a million staff (497,117) across 230 hospital trusts participated
The response has been damning. According to the British Medical Association (BMA), the latest survey shows that the service’s workforce is ‘in crisis’. Denis Campbell, Health policy editor for The Guardian, wrote in his piece, NHS England survey reveals ‘alarming downturn’ in staff wellbeing,
Poor morale could exacerbate the already serious understaffing in the NHS, which has more than 100,000 unfilled vacancies – one in 11 of all posts. The survey found 51% of staff were considering leaving, 30% often thought about leaving the trust they worked for, 22% planned to look for a new job with a different trust in the next year and 16% intended to leave as soon as they could find another job.
The key findings of the survey include:
- A majority (51%) are thinking about leaving their current role and 21% want to quit the NHS altogether.
- More than three-quarters (78%) feel under unrealistic time pressures some or all of the time.
- Nearly six in 10 (58%) say they do unpaid overtime every week, though that number is falling.
- Nearly 28% have suffered back pain in the last year as a direct result of their work, up two percentage points since 2017.
- Fewer than three in 10 (28.6%) feel their trust takes positive action to improve staff health and wellbeing.
While this won’t surprise campaigners, who will rightly feel vindicated by these findings, it must however shock the general public and those in power, into action.
Government and opposition MPs are urging NHS bosses to halt the privatisation of cancer scanning services in Oxford, which doctors are warning will damage patients’ health.
A storm is growing in Oxford which will have reverberations for the entire National Health Service. Keep Our NHS Public will be doing more work on this issue in the coming weeks and months as this not exposes the lie in the NHS Long Term Plan that NHS England is rolling back privatisation in the NHS but also may needlessly cost lives. The Guardian broke the story which will prove enraging if not shocking to NHS campaigners, they reported,
NHS England has sparked anger by taking the service away from Oxford University Hospitals (OUH) NHS trust’s Churchill hospital, despite its international reputation for cancer care. In a related move, the Guardian can reveal that NHS PET-CT scanning service in south-east London will also be part-privatised. Alliance Medical is part of a consortium that has been awarded the contract, alongside King’s College hospital and Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS trusts.
Local Group News
The search for truth about Shropshire maternity deaths goes on
NHS Improvement have now scrapped the review panel they had set up to “review the findings” of Donna Ockenden’s independent investigation into maternity deaths at Shrewsbury & Telford Hospital Trust (SaTH). The review panel was to involve people who had previously given SaTH a clean bill of health and could have been used to bury the results of the Ockenden review. The reversal was a direct result of pressure from campaigning parents who have been fighting for the truth for over a decade.
Donna Ockenden is investigating cases of death and serious harm to babies in SaTH’s maternity service going back well over a decade, looking at over 250 cases and in “many” there will be evidence of avoidable death or avoidable serious harm. If this proves to be true it will be a much bigger scandal than the Morecambe Bay one where there were 11 avoidable deaths.
SaTH has continually claimed that there have only been a few cases, and these were aberrations. Apologies were only forthcoming after massive pressure. This article in the Shropshire Star details some of the cases featuring some of those who have been leading the campaign for the truth and a safe maternity service. This scandal cannot be blamed on individual staff. Some may have made mistakes, but the problem is systemic.
The 2018 Staff Survey shows that in 2015, 82.2% of SaTH midwives were satisfied with the quality of care they gave. That has fallen year on year – down to only 56.7% in 2018. The maternity service chaos is NOT the fault of midwives, who don’t go to work to provide poor care. “My organisation encourages us to report errors, near misses or incidents”. In 2016, 87.7% of staff agreed. In 2017, 84.3% of staff agreed. By 2018, only 81.2% of staff agreed. This was the WORST result in the country for an acute trust.
The Trust leadership were directly attacked in a CQC report last year for failing to provide good leadership. SaTH was then put into special measures on safety grounds by NHSI.
But chickens are coming home to roost. Immediately after the CQC report, the Medical Director was downgraded to a less sensitive post. In the last couple of weeks, the Directory of Nursing, Midwifery & Quality and the Head of Midwifery have announced they are leaving to take up unspecified posts elsewhere. We are still waiting for an announcement on the future of the Chief Executive. This was a team that were more interested in balancing the books that patient safety.
It is sometimes difficult to talk about failures in the NHS when we are campaigning to save it. But if we don’t others will. And these others will blame the NHS as an institution. That’s why we in Shropshire support HCT’s ‘Safe for All’ campaign. Safe for patients, but also importantly for the staff who are usually the one’s to get scapegoated.
But their campaigning strength, and that of other parents, has now halted this attempted cover up.
Shropshire Keep Our NHS Public
Yorkshire Health Campaigns Together’s March for the NHS.
For more information contact Leeds Keep Our NHS Public
Saturday, 30th March – 11:30am
Leeds Art Gallery
Keep Our NHS Public is the longest running national and local membership campaign fighting to save our NHS. You can find out more about us here. By joining us you’ll become part of a community of health campaigners with unparalleled experience and passion, will belong to a nationwide network of activists and have the support of a core team of experienced organisers at a national level. It’s easy and doesn’t cost the earth. Join today.