Parliamentary gridlock and political crisis have not meant a stop to the government's agenda for our NHS: privatisation, fragmentation, and the closure or under-funding of vital, life-saving services.
The latest step in this agenda is a massive proposed nationwide merger of Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the geographically-based entities responsible for commissioning NHS services and making key decisions, such as whether or not to award a given contract to a private provider. The government proposes to merge 99 CCGs now, with many more to follow soon, until there is only one CCG for each Integrated Care System (ICS). In some cases, this means that as many as 8 or 9 CCGs will be rolled into one, producing mega-units that are highly centralised and virtually immune to the input of the communities they serve.
The reasons for the merger are clear. The plan would move decisions about local services much further away from the local residents and patients who would be affected by them. This would make campaigns to save services - like the successful campaign to Save Lewisham Hospital, which won the support of the local CCG via grassroots pressure - much harder to mount.
True to the intention, local objections are being unlawfully steam-rollered. It is legally required that CCGs wanting to merge have to ask individuals to whom they provide health services for their opinions, and must then set out what views they have heard from respondents, and ‘the extent to which the CCG has taken them into account’. Instead, NHS policy-makers are acting in just the opposite manner: rushing the changes through while public attention is focused on the Brexit crisis, while unlawfully suppressing discussion or accountability.
Keep Our NHS Public and 999 Call for the NHS are calling on supporters of the NHS to support the parliamentary petition that has been launched in recent days to demand an immediate halt to the CCG merger. We are also ready to step up our campaigning further in the days and weeks ahead until this latest attempt to grab control of services away from patients is defeated. Sign up to our newsletter - or better yet, join up as a member - to make sure you're up to date with all our campaigning news!