Newsletter – December 2017

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KONP and NHS News

£2m Christmas bonus for Virgin at expense of our NHS

Richard Branson makes his base in the tax haven of the Virgin Islands, where Virgin’s empire of companies is registered and from where no UK tax is due. He has no qualms about suing the National Health Service, which Virgin Care has done.

Virgin has taken a £2 million pay-off – at least – from six South West and North West Surrey Clinical Commissioning Groups – money that many of Surrey’s most dependent and vulnerable patients will not see again. This is all happening in Jeremy Hunt’s own back garden – his constituency is SW Surrey.

In a callous, retaliatory response to losing the community children’s health services 3-year £82m contract, which it held 2012-17, Virgin sends the playground bully’s message across the NHS: ‘Don’t mess with us – if you take contracts back we’ll make you pay’. The underlying message is clear: Virgin’s priority is to put their finances before patients and NHS front line care.

The contract was one by an alliance between Surrey and Borders Partnership Foundation Trust and two local social enterprises (Surrey Healthy Children and Families Services ).

The HSJ uncovered the partial truth on the size of the pay-out: one of the six CCGs involved, NHS Surrey Downs CCG, published their liability of £328,000. The detail in their finance paper has since been removed from its website after HSJ’s enquiries about the settlement.

The HSJ uncovered the partial truth on the size of the pay-out: one of the six CCGs involved, NHS Surrey Downs CCG, published their liability of £328,000. The detail in their finance paper has since been removed from its website after HSJ’s enquiries about the settlement.

We have discovered through an NHS England source that the total payment is £2million. It looks like very close to the sum of six shared contributions from the sued CCGs – plus or minus legal costs. This money is desperately needed for NHS front line care and should not be bolstering Richard Branson’s bottom line.

Whether there are other expenses paid by NHS England and the Local Authority is unknown. This is taxpayers’ money paid out to one of the most profitable private companies in the UK. When every penny for the NHS matters and NHS underfunding is set to continue (see below more on the Autumn budget), this assault from Virgin, more than ever, demonstrates that we need to fight to win back full control of our NHS.

KONP Co-chair, Tony O Sullivan has said

I find it distasteful that a private company, whose aim is commercial success, is in charge of running services for our most precious and vulnerable children. Virgin have done so for five years in Surrey. This type of bully-boy legal intimidation lies very uneasily alongside Virgin’s attempt to hide behind the caring NHS logo and purport to be putting children first.
[Link to full post: https://keepournhspublic.com/news/virgin-threats-net-2m-from-nhs-in-surrey/ ]

The Budget

On Tuesday 21 November health campaigners from Oxford and several London branches of Keep Our NHS Public joined Health Campaigns Together at The People’s Assembly‘s pre-budget protest against austerity behind a huge food-bank on Whitehall and many NHS banners across from Downing Street. We drew attention to the Government’s underfunding of the NHS ahead of the Autumn Budget next day.

Despite leaders of multiple NHS organisations, think tanks and politicians pleading with the Government to properly fund the NHS by at least £4 billion more annually – and now! – a message ringing out from health professionals, experts and campaigners, Hammond only gave an extra £1.6 billion extra for 2018/19, and some urgently needed capital funds – with strings attached. Hammond ignored Simon Stevens’ request to honour the £350 million a week promise to the NHS in the run up to Brexit – instead he gives the NHS a one-off £337 million to see it through the winter-long crisis. The total of £2.8 billion over the next 3 years is under half of what experts told the Government was needed to keep the service running.

The clear message from Health chiefs is that this simply isn’t good enough and they have now begun to authorised reneging on NHS waiting time targets and potentially rationing services in an unprecedented way.

Creating even more pressure on the NHS, Hammond failed even to mention Social Care in the Budget, demonstrating the Government’s attempts to wash its hands of it and pretend that social care is Local Government’s problem.
Ignoring Social Care creates more human misery and strain on NHS services. We demand of the Government that more funding is given for social care in addition to the NHS.

Please see our post Fund Our NHS! to see some of the different sources who called on the Government to urgently put enough money into the NHS (some of the different sources they ignored).

NHS forced to ration in light of underfunding

An urgent meeting of NHS England bosses 30 November (after the budget news that the NHS would continue to be underfunded) saw them advise that waiting times were likely to go up and that some services and treatments would have to be cut in order to maintain others.
The Telegraph, The Guardian and The Daily Mail were amongst those who reported on this.
So many people with little or no spare cash will have to pay for a whole raft of ‘over the counter’ medications. These are often far from cheap and many (not all) would usually be prescribed by the family doctor/GP. Migraine tablets, Cough Medicine and heartburn remedies are listed alongside omega 3 tablets, Herbal remedies and vitamins. Even more worryingly, further rationing on treatments for dementia, heart disease, arthritis and blindness is expected.
Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, clashed with NHSE over their board’s announcement that waiting times for ‘non-urgent’ planned operations would have to increase in order to protect funding for cancer services, GPs and mental health.
Hunt responded publicly that the existing 18 week waiting time limit would continue to be in force, despite NHSE saying that it would not be possible given the degree of insufficient funding.

Funding Cuts in Health and Social Care linked to nearly 120,000 extra deaths

A study published by BMJ Open has found that 120,000 extra deaths since 2010 can be linked to funding cuts in Health and Social Care.
The BMJ reported that the over 60s and care home residents have borne the brunt of this, with the ever dwindling number of nurses cited as potentially having the most impact.
The researchers suggested that there could be as many as an extra 100 deaths per day and a cash injection of £6.3billion would be needed to close the mortality gap.
This BMJ article gives a full overview of the report and how the researchers made their findings.

Hawking joins Judicial Review v Jeremy Hunt – PLEASE support the fund drive

Professor Stephen Hawking has joined Dr Colin Hutchinson, Professor Allyson Pollock (co -author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill), Professor Sue Richards and Dr Graham Winyard in their joint intention to take Jeremy Hunt, secretary of State for Health in England, to judicial review (see Twitter: JR4NHS – Judicial Review for the NHS) – a critical challenge to the government’s attempt to circumvent Parliament and democratic scrutiny and to allow Accountable Care Organisations to operate in the NHS in England.
Please head to the crowdfunding page and pledge what you can to help them in the fight.
Please see our post for more information.

 

Mental Health -Ralf Little on Twitter

Actor, Ralf Little had a Twitter spat with the secretary of state for health about the latters’ claims that the provision of mental health services is better than ever. He accused Hunt of cherry picking facts and knowingly lying during interviews.
Little’s 42 tweet thread culminated with him asking for a sit down meeting with Jeremy Hunt on camera, with fact checkers and medical professionals. Hunt agreed to this in a 26 tweet reply and Krishnan Guru-Murphy has agreed to host a half hour debate on channel 4.
Read the thread here.
The Secretary of State for Health has now gone quiet. You can head to Ralf’s twitter page @RalfLittle to tweet your support.
It’s unlikely the Hunt will actually have a televised debate with fact checkers as he’d be unable to lie but well done Ralf Little for bringing the debate to public attention.

Local Group News

Update on Dorset Judicial Review

Dorset KONP have sent an update on the work they are doing. Most notably they are going ahead with plans to apply for Judicial Review (JR) of Dorset CCG’s decisions of 20 September.

These decisions include:

  • downgrading Poole A&E
  • closing Poole Maternity and Special Care Baby Unit
  • merging Dorset County Maternity with Yeovil District Hospital Maternity in Somerset
  • closing Wareham and Portland Community Hospital beds
  • closing 245 Acute Hospital beds across Dorset
  • closing the Linden Unit in Weymouth

Leigh Day Solicitors have looked into the case for Judicial Review and have advised we do have a case. Leigh Day were successful in the JR which saved Lewisham A&E. ‘Pre-action’ papers were sent to the CCG on 27 November. The CCG have two weeks to respond. Leigh Day then have until 19 December to issue the Judicial Review papers. A cross-party group ‘Defend Dorset NHS’ has been set up to fundraise for the legal challenge, and has successfully raised the initial £1,500 fees. Once the Court papers are issued, we will need to raise a further £20,000. Watch this space! We hope you will be able to help to save our vital Dorset NHS services.

Referral to the Secretary of State

On 13 November Defend Dorset NHS lobbied Dorset County Council (DCC) Health Scrutiny Committee to refer the CCG plans to the Secretary of State as we believe they are detrimental to the health of Dorset County Council residents. We were delighted when the Committee voted unanimously to refer the plans. However, the plans will go to Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (JHSC) which meets on Tuesday 12th December in Dorchester. The JHSC has representatives from DCC, Poole, Bournemouth and Hampshire. We really hope the JHSC will stand up for residents and agree to refer the CCG plans to the Secretary of State. However, it this does not happen, we hope DCC Health Scrutiny Committee will carry through on their commitment to refer the CCG plans to the Secretary of State for Independent Reconfiguration Panel consideration.

East Midlands Children’s Heart Unit is SAVED!

Well done to all those dedicated campaigners who contributed to saving the congenital heart unit based at Glenfield Hospital. With especial congratulations to our KONP local group in Leicester and Rutland, Campaign Against NHS Privatisation (CANP) for all their efforts.
Further good news in Leicester came in the form of an effective push back on continuing health care proposals to make cuts.
The good news was reported widely – see BBC News Leicester.
Heart units at the Royal Brompton in London and Newcastle’s children’s heart unit were also saved from closure after NHS England made a u-turn on their decision to close them.

Anti-NHS Cuts protest in Derbyshire. 18 November 2017

Keith Venables of Belper KONP and a KONP’s Executive Committee reports:

“Dozens of cars cavalcaded through Derbyshire(and from further afield, including Lincolnshire) to Rally in Matlock and build an ‘alliance model’ of protest.

100 campaigners listened to and spoke about underfunding, privatisation, ACOs and much more and – with representatives from some of the key health unions, Nurses (RCN) and Unite and UNISON – began to build for a long-term strategic fight for Our NHS. Labour Party councillors committed themselves to the fight, as did pensioners (NPC) and we discussed the importance of broadly-based action.

No senior health managers accepted our invitation to join us and ‘consult’.”

Coverage of the rally made it to the BBC – you can watch on YouTube here.

Save Southend NHS meet Jeremy Corbyn

KONP members and other campaigners met Jeremy Corbyn at a local event where he happily donned a Save Southend NHS wristband.
A representative for the campaign said “Our campaign team were delighted that Jeremy Corbyn wore our wristband and was happy to have pictures with some of the committee, KONP members and supporters.”
To get involved with the campaign in Southend please head to the Keep Our NHS Public Southend Facebook page.

Bury and Prestwich Walk-In Centres SAVED!

Well done to all involved!
Richard Coates, who was involved in the campaign from the start, gave us this rundown of what happened.

The campaign has been led by Bury North and South Labour parties, together with the MPs and Bury Labour Council, but with significant involvement from other activists and socialist parties.

It began when Bury CCG announced that it was planning to close both WICs [Walk-In Centres] when their contracts ran out in April 2017. The Labour Council (against Tory opposition, which supported the closures) opposed the closures and forced the CCG to hold a formal consultation after its period of “public engagement” ran out. The LP started a public petition which eventually gathered over 7,000 signatures in the town centre, outside metro stations and on-line, with the help of non-Labour activists too. We asked public questions at Council meetings and questioned the CCG rep at Council Health Scrutiny Cttee meetings. The LP Bury South MP (Ivan Lewis), also spoke out, and the CCG’s own survey showed over 80% of the public were opposed to the closures. It became a major local issue (eg people would come up to us to thank us for petitioning). There was then an angry CCG Primary Care Commissioning [PCC] committee meeting to discuss the issue, which we packed out (including Labour councillors). If the CCG didn’t appreciate the extent of public anger before this meeting, they did afterwards, and they eventually postponed their public consultation meetings and announced that they would keep the WICs open until April 2018 while they awaited new advice coming from NHS England and then from the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership.

In May 2017, with the help of GM People’s Assembly and KONP, we held a very successful pre-election NHS Roadshow stall and petitioning in Bury town centre (speakers from the Roadshow, Unison and both Bury Lab candidates) focussing on the closures as well as #voteNHS. I believe [that] the NHS England issued advice [favouring] WICs but there was then a lull until the publication of the Greater Manchester Health & Social Care Partnership [GMHSCP] recommendations which, in line with national advice, called for an Urgent Treatment Centre in every CCG area (Bury doesn’t have one). We asked questions about the WICs at the CCG’s PCC committee meeting in early November, and then the announcement was made at the following CCG Governing Board meeting.

This victory has been reported in Manchester Evening News and The Bury Times. Well done again to everyone who was involved.

Upcoming Events

No Cuts, Closures or Compromises. Hands Off Our NHS

Hosted by Save North Tyneside NHS
2nd December, 12pm
Bedford Street, North Sheilds

Join a rally to Save North Tyneside NHS following the Clinical Commissioning Group’s announcement of Rake Lane Urgent Care night time services permanent closure.
They urgently need your support.

Please head to the facebook page for more information

Stop The Great NHS Swindle 

Lowestoft Coalition Against the Cuts Public Meeting 

4th December 2017 – 7pm
United Reformed Church, London Road North, Lowestoft, NR32 1HB

Come along to this public meeting where Bill Adnams of Norfolk KONP (amongst others) will be speaking about STPs and what they mean for services in Lowestoft. In addition there will be conversation about what has been happening to the NHS in Waveney.

Please head to the facebook page for more information.
info@lowestoftagainstthecuts.org.uk

Northern Health Campaigns Together Conference – HCT and Leeds KONP

20th January 2018, 11.30am – 4pm
St Georges Centre, Leeds

Save the date for the next HCT conference in Leeds. Speakers include John Lister, Alex Scott Samuel and Vivek Kotecha with more information to follow.

Join or Donate to Keep Our NHS Public

We need your help more than ever. Please consider helping us in our campaigning by joining or donating. For instructions on how to join please head to our website.
Donate here.


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1 Comment

  1. Ii get a personal health budget in the form of a direct payment. I was told that I had to sign up to have it administered by private companies or lose it, they have no idea about the nature of social care where I am totally on my PAs for all aspects of daily living, I have been commodified. So it’s already happening to disabled people.

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