Press Release: NHS Bill Rally outside Parliament Fri 4 Nov

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News logo[Thursday 3 November]

Rally at Parliament: College Green and St Margaret’s Church, Abingdon Street Friday, November 4th: 11am – 1pm

NHS experts, doctors, healthcare workers and campaigners from across England will attend a rally in London this week against plans that will strip the NHS of ‘local’ care.

Hundreds are expected at the event outside Parliament and in St Margaret’s Church on Friday (November 4) from 11am – 2pm.

NHS over commonsThe rally coincides with the tabled second reading of Margaret Greenwood’s National Health Service Bill 2016-2017 which is receiving a new wave of support as the break up and privatisation of the National Health Service looms through Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP).

Organised by Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) the rally on Friday is unlikely to see the Bill heard. It has been filibustered twice and sponsor Margaret Greenwood MP (Wirral) may request a new, firm date for its second reading.

But demonstrators are determined to reiterate their support for the Bill and a publicly-funded, -run and -accountable NHS. Among those speaking will be Professor Allyson Pollock, a professor of public health policy at Barts & Queen Mary University London; and barrister Peter Roderick, who together drafted the NHS Reinstatement Bill. Also appearing is Dr Jacky Davis, Consultant Radiologist, author and NHS campaigner, who will describe the threats STPs pose to patients and the fundamental survival of the NHS.

KONP Co-chair Dr Tony O’Sullivan said:

“We will welcome campaigners from all around England, experts in medicine and the NHS and political activists, all wishing to let Parliament know our health service must not be sacrificed to the private sector.

“Years of NHS underfunding mean hospitals, GPs and community health services are struggling to provide safe and effective services. “Chronic government under-investment in training has resulted in staff shortages that provide a major threat to the future of a publicly-funded NHS.

“With the imposition of STPs, NHS Improvement (the NHS regulator) has instructed NHS organisations to list services which could be axed or centralised. They are making rapid progress and time is running out. Statements from NHS England make clear how STPs are the vehicle for implementing devastating de-funding of the NHS making it yet more vulnerable to further privatisation of cherry-picked services.”

Dr O’Sullivan said the secrecy shrouding STPs is ‘an abuse of our democratic rights’. Plans in the regions of England are due be signed off on December 23.

Among those attending the rally will be campaigners from Grantham, Lincs and the Keep The Horton General group in Banbury, north Oxfordshire, where NHS managers intend to close all acute services – forcing patients on a congested 25+ mile journey to emergency and specialist care in Oxford.

“In 2008, the Secretary of State for Health (Alan Johnson) agreed Oxford was too far for patients to travel safely when sick, injured or giving birth,” said campaigner and 2015 National Health Action Party parliamentary candidate Roseanne Edwards. “The Oxford University Hospitals Trust has been gradually taking consultant-led services away to make a full STP downgrade easy. The dangers to patients are huge – accessibility and patient choice are becoming a horrible joke.”


Editors’ Notes

Keep Our NHS Public was formed in 2005 and has a broad-based, public membership. There are 65 local groups, plus a national association. It has the explicit aim of countering marketisation [1,2] and privatisation of the NHS by campaigning for a publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable NHS, available to all on the basis of clinical need. It is opposed to cuts in service which run counter to these principles.

Further details:

KONP’s Campaigns and Press Officer is Alan Taman:

07870 757 309

[email protected]


Facebook: Keep-Our-NHS-Public

[1] Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigely, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Leys, C. and Player, S. (2011) The Plot Against the NHS. Pontypool: Merlin Lister, J. (2008) The NHS After 60: For Patients or Profits? London: Middlesex University Press Owen, D. (2014) The Health of the Nation: The NHS in Peril. York: Methuen, Chapter 4. Player, S. (2013) ‘Ready for market’. In NHS SOS ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. London: Oneworld, pp.38-61.

[2] The belief that ‘competition is always best’ does not work when applied to healthcare. A comprehensive and universal health service is best funded by public donation, which has been shown to be far more efficient overall than private-insurance healthcare models [Davis, J., Lister, J. and Wrigley, D. (2015) NHS For Sale. London: Merlin Press. Chapters 2 and 8. Lister, J. (2013) Health Policy Reform: global health versus private profit. Libri: Faringdon. Pollock, A. and Price, D. (2013) In NHS SOS, ed by Davis, J. and Tallis, R. Oneworld: London, 174.]

The bill is fourth on the list of 7 private members bills on Friday:

• This is a fight against privatisation

• This is a fight for the NHS Reinstatement Bill

• This is a fight for local hospitals and services

• This is a fight for the right to access local health care

• This is a fight to save the NHS itself.

The speed of the reforms is unprecedented. STPs have been planned in secret by health trusts, clinical commissioning groups and local authorities over the past 15 months.

These plans were submitted to NHS England on October 21 to be vetted for language so the plans are couched in terms that are ‘palatable’ to the public. STPs hide downgrading and privatisation of the NHS under a new and deceptive language with phrases such as ‘care nearer home’ (through denying access to hospital beds), new GP hubs (replacing local GPs), developing new ‘urgent care centres’ (an inadequate substitute for consultant-led A&E departments). Plans with private service contracts will not be released until late November. They must be signed off by December 23, consultation coming AFTER that date – and implementation will take place in full during 2017.

Selling off NHS land and buildings – owned by the public – are mooted to raise billions to close funding gaps. So far the STP process has been kept from the public, yet what is proposed represents radical changes in the way the NHS is organised and funded without parliamentary debate.

The 44 STP footprints have no statutory basis. There will be serious implications for the social care, health related services and public health provision delivered by councils. The funding arrangements in STPs are intended to restrict funding using constraints and recycling of funds that will endanger local control of resources.

Julia Simon, who recently quit as head of NHS England’s commissioning policy unit and programme director for co-commissioning of primary care, has warned forcing health and care organisations to come together so quickly to draw up these complex plans is likely to backfire. She said up against tight deadlines, organisations are likely to make unrealistic financial forecasts and claims about benefits to patient care, “then you have a lot of lies in the system about the financial position, benefits that will be delivered.”

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