Report from KONP Leeds Regional meeting on 13th November , sharing information about the challenges and the fight back and starting to think about more co-ordinated and joint action, attended by Simon and Viv
DEFEND OUR NHS : YORKSHIRE REGIONAL NETWORK MEETING 13.11.15
Nick Jones, Marc Renwick , Gilda Peterson John Puntis, (also Doctors for the NHS)
Beatrice Rogers and Sylvia Landells from Leeds Hospital Alert
Michael Galvin & Paul Hutchinson , retired consultants from Wakefield. Mike is also in Leeds KONP
Stacey Booth GMB regional organiser for health and social care
Jenny Shepherd, Save Calderdale Royal Hospital and 999 Call for the NHS Kirklees and Calderdale
Viv Dawson & Simon Watt from Airedale ( Skipton and Keighley) 38 Degrees
Rachel Hallam 4th year medical student & John Carlisle from Sheffield Save Our NHS
Anne Leonard & Malcolm Law, Defend our NHS York
Tony Pearson, Unison regional organiser for Health
Michael Parkinson Unison local health branches organiser
Del Wijeratne & John Morgan, junior doctors
Christine Hyde & Trish Foley from Save Dewsbury Hospital Campaign and 999 Call for the NHS
Helen Burke from Harrogate LP and Leeds KONP
Chris Beastall, Regional TUC
Martin Wood, Unite
Lynne Galvin , Royal College of Nursing
INTRODUCTIONS WITH BRIEF INFORMATION RE LOCAL CAMPAIGNING
Sheffield Save our NHS has been heavily occupied with local issues re primary care, particularly a group of practices serving vulnerable communities , including a clinic for refugee and asylum seekers which has been staffed by salaried doctors and run by the Health and Social Care Trust for around 15 years but now face being tendered out as the contract has come to an end.
Leeds Hospital Alert
Have been campaigning on health and social care issues for 28 years and regularly interrogate Managers and Commissioners from the Local Authority and CCGs. They have been doing a lot of work on mental health services and out of area placements as well as domiciliary and residential services for older people.
Defend our NHS York
Have a strong presence in York campaigning to raise public awareness re the destruction of the NHS and putting pressure on local and national politicians, plus the euro MPs. They work closely with the People’s Assembly in York and stop TTIP activists. Recently they have been pursuing issues around the closure of Bootham Park Hospital and have established a positive working relationship with new Labour MP Rachael Maskell who is a physiotherapist and trade union activist.
Have been fighting the “ reconfiguration” / loss of hospital services including plans to lose A&E from Calderdale Royal Hospital , which is a PFI build and provide urgent care only in Halifax. Now it seems that Halifax and Huddersfield might not end up with even one fully functioning A & E as one plan is to send people with serious injuries to Leeds. Despite Calderdale Hospital being in deficit they are now paying KPMG £1m to come up with a 5 year strategic plan for the hospital. Repaying the PFI takes 10% of the total NHS budget . 999 Call for the NHS Calderdale are organising a “Sweep Privatisation Out of Our Hospitals “ stunt, dressing up as cleaners with mops, buckets etc!
Following 38 Degrees petitioning in defence of the NHS in the run up to the election, Skipton 38 degrees recently joined forces with Keighley 38 degrees to put on a well attended workshop on the NHS Bill (previously known as the NHS Reinstatement Bill) which was addressed by Peter Broderick , the lawyer who helped to draft the Bill. They do not have a separate NHS campaign at the moment but it has become a major strand of work and there were numerous suggestions at the workshop about how to take forward the battle for the survival of our NHS as well as canvas support for the Bill.
Tony Pearson said that fighting downbanding of health care staff is a major issue for the union.
Michael Parkin said that they are also trying to instigate a fairness campaign across the city.
Stacey Booth said that nurses and other health care staff went to peer review body so the attack on their pay and conditions is on the back burner but it is clear that if the Govt. defeats the doctors they will come for the nurses and all health care staff next so it is vital to support each other.
John noted that he and others at the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust have been organising support for the junior doctors . A letter from 350 consultants from LTHT was sent to Jeremy Hunt and had good media coverage. Leeds KONP has organised a vigil and leafletting in support of the junior docs. They have also set up a flashmob choir and are planning a musical event in town with Victorian/ Edwardian toffs and urchins pre Xmas. They are keen to get better at picking up info and planning early intervention re contacts going out to tender as the outsourcing of outpatient pharmacy services to Boots went through largely unchallenged.
JUNIOR DOCTORS DISPUTE
The meeting congratulated the junior doctors on their recent brilliant protest in Leeds with an attendance of well over 2,000, excellent platform and well planned press coverage.
Del and John gave an excellent update on the “Not Safe, Not Fair” opposition to imposition of the junior doctor’s contract, the inadequacy of the latest “offers” from Jeremy Hunt and the 2 week ballot ballot, which started on Nov 5th
The offer does not address the removal of safeguards against working long hours, 10/11% pay rise will not compensate for loss of the banding system and does not protect new doctors ie. medical students . It is also a major concern that the CQC is going to be asked to assess Trusts against 7 day working and will be able to penalise ( fine ? ) Trusts for non implementation. Medical Colleges are backing the doctors. Recruitment and retention of doctors at serious risk, particularly in areas which involve lots of anti-social hours.
To try to counter negative press coverage the doctors are organising “Meet the Doctors” events round the country on Sunday 15.11 and may plan more.
Dates have been set for industrial action:
Tuesday 1st Dec. 8am until Wed 2nd Dec. Junior doctors will provide emergency cover only as on Xmas day.
Tuesday 8th December 8am-5pm . Full walk out of junior doctors.
Wednesday 16th December 8-5pm Second full walk out
Consultants are expected to cover necessary work. John Puntis said one consequence will be cancellations of elective surgery. Junior docs will of course assist in the event of any major crisis. Rachel sought reassurance that medical students will not be asked to cover junior doctors’ work. They have been warned against taking any solidarity action.
The doctors took questions and were very conscious that the dispute has been a wake up call for many medics re the overall attack on the NHS by the Government. BMA membership has risen from 65% before the dispute to 85%.
DEVOLUTION (- Simon suggested that this should more accurately be called “fiscal decentralisation” )
As devolution of Health and Social Care in Manchester has not only taken National out of NHS, hastening the process of fragmenting and privatising the health service, let the Government blame the Local Authority for shortfalls in health care ( The Trojan Horse) and flung the door wide open to hospital closures we shared concern that we must do all we can to stop Yorkshire s going in the same direction. Cornwall seems to be rushing headlong. Sheffield and Notts already embroiled.
Tony was at the Labour Party’s regional meeting on Devolution in Wakefield a few weeks ago and noted that there doesn’t seem to be an appetite for taking on devolution of health and social care in Yorkshire. There isn’t agreement in Yorkshire re a single consortium bid for devolved powers. Leeds, Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees and Wakefield have submitted a Leeds City Region bid which aims to include York, Craven , Selby and Harrogate but North Yorks are championing a Greater Yorkshire bid. A check on the web later suggests that council leaders involved in the Leeds and region bid have submitted 27 devolution ‘asks’ with the bid -seeking more control over transport, housing, business support, public service reform skills and new fiscal powers to generate investment for major infrastructure projects. They are said to “remain adamant” they will only agree to a mayor, and the costs of introducing one, if the powers and funding on offer from government match their substantial ambition for the city region’s economy, infrastructure, jobs and housing. The North Yorks led bid envisages having a directly elected major for north, east and west yorkshire.
A number of people expressed serious concern re the undemocratic nature of the whole process; lack of public consultation, information and discussion on devolution which can sound quite attractive but holds massive dangers. There was a startling lack of info and consultation before the Manchester deal even with immediately involved parties, not just the public
DISMANTLING THE NHS THROUGH CUTS , PRIVATISATION, VANGUARDS, CHAINS etc
Regionally, Dewsbury, Halifax and Huddersfield have been in the front line with Batley based Locala being given a 230m contract to run community health care services which were previously run by the NHS. Commissioning Support Units are being outsourced. NHS England is dumping commissioning of primary care on to CCGs, raising even more issues re conflict of interests and private companies have honed in on the commissioning market and are even commissioning and providing from within the same organisation.
You might like this succinct note from Caroline Malloy from Open Democracy 23.10.15 about the interlinking of Simon Stevens’ Five year Forward View, Vanguards etc with the privatisation project:
As Circle have found in the UK with their disastrous Hinchingbrooke foray, at the moment it’s hard to make a profit from competing to provide full service local hospitals. As United Health, Kaiser and others have found in the U.S. – profit opportunities are much bigger if you integrate both the purchasing and provision of healthcare under private control or influence, enabling you to ration or deny more expensive healthcare interventions. And it’s much easier to do that if you use your control or influence to re-organise provision away from full service local hospitals, towards a chain of disparate community-based clinics and far-flung specialist centres.Of course you have to claim all the while that this is all about integration, prevention, empowerment, localism, personalisation, specialisation, reducing ‘variation’, and ‘care closer to home’.
York have taken up issues around the sudden closure of Bootham Park Hospital following an unannounced CQC visit. This ostensibly resulted from the state of the building and the failure of the various bodies involved to act appropriately on the need to make improvements first identified in Dec 13 than again in Jan 15. Some inpatients have been temporarily moved to Teeside and some have gone home with support. 400 outpatients are affected and it isn’t clear what will happen to the 300 staff involved. The Labour MP, Rachael Maskell has called for a public enquiry. The closure has highlighted concerns re the disposal or NHS estate through PROPCO which merits further investigation.
Anne and Simon made the point that exposing the myths re the need for cuts to the NHS, challenging the whole Austerity agenda and the economic arguments that underpin them is ivital.
THE NHS BILL ( originally known as the NHS Re-instatement Bill but Parliament didn’t allow this title!)
This was drafted by Allysson Pollock and Peter Broderick with others and placed before Parliament last spring by Caroline Lucas from the Green Party. with some cross party support, including all the SNP MPs, a few Lib Dems and 17 Labour Party MPs , including Jeremy Corbyn. It is due for it second reading on 16th March ’16 but probably won’t get any further in this Parliament. However we agreed it is important to publicise the Bill and seek to gather support as it calls for
- the reinstatement of the Government’s duty to provide the NHS in England,
- the abolition of competition and the market in the NHS along with all the structures of commissioning and Foundation Trusts
- the re-establishment of District Health Authorities, with Family Health Services Committees to administer arrangements with GPs, dentists and others,
There has been some debate over the recommendation that the Govt. should take PFI debts off individual hospitals but the authors are clear that the Bill can and will evolve. There has also been contention about suggesting another major re-organisation but it is well argued that while the market remains in the NHS it will necessarily remain in a state of permanent e-organisation with every service outsourced creating more fragmentation and upheaval. .
IDEAS FOR ACTION
Junior Doctors Dispute
- Lobby MPs, write to politicians, newspapers and use social media. Challenge the myths re having a full 7 day service without massive extra funding. Promote the “Not Safe: Not Fair message. Link attacks on health workers with the broader attack on the NHS through funding cuts and privatisation. Jenny Shepherd who is a journalist suggested a few simple message rammed home repeatedly work best..
- Campaign for support amongst the public – at hospitals, city centres, and elsewhere. Can use the 38 Degrees Petition.
- Support Meet the Doctors events and picket lines.
- Improve communication between the junior docs and campaign groups
- Share information across the region re devolution plans and keep track
- get out counter information to the spin – publicise the dangers/ pitfalls
- write to councillors
- Demand public consultation and referendums.
- Keep checking tenders ( NHS Support Federation’s NHS FOR SALE website particularly useful) and get info from CCG , Trust Board Mtgs, LA Boards. TUs to share more info with the campaign groups as they have research departments.
- Explore possibility of Corporate Watch running a regional workshop on helping people to understand Trust finances , scrutinise budgets etc and unearth exactly what is going on.
- Find out more about Propco and the sell off of NHS estate. Is the money being ploughed back into the NHs or siphoned off.
Raising Public Awareness and harassing those involved in selling off and buying up the NHS
- Nick and John from Leeds keen on having another demonstration around the anniversary of the Health and Social care Act, ie. end of march/ early April. Some people not so keen as feel that demos good for the participants but make little impact. Last year might have been a bit different as we were close to the national elections ( around 1,500 attended) On the other hand it was argued that the junior docs dispute and broader engagement is likely to swell support and promoting the demo is a great opportunity to get our messages across.
- Need to share info re stunts/ activities in our area as may be able to get support from regional activists. As a start Calderdale will circulate info re their sweeping KPMG out of the hospital mops and bucket event.
- We could think about doing some co- ordinated actions in the public arena ie on the same day, at the same time in different places . Monthly “Bring Back Our NHS” silent vigils outside hospitals were one idea that came out of an activists meeting in Birmingham. We would need good social media promotion and coverage..
- Anne suggested co-ordinated mass postering at roundabouts . We didn’t discuss whether we could raise cash for official poster hoardings but maybe we could?
- Protests / interventions both at private providers and at Conferences for commissioning etc. Manchester have called for action 8-9 outside a Conference on Vanguards- “New Models of care- Leading the Way” on Wed 9th December but may be planning to continue with action throughout the day . The Conference is at 78 Sackville St. Manchester M13NG
- Showing the film “Sell Off” We have been putting on shows around the region but it is well worth spreading.
Strengthening our own links and information sharing between campaign groups, Trade Unions other health workers organisations including the Royal Colleges to increase our impact in the Region
- Share information re proposed cuts and contracts going to tender so can mount timely challenges, insist on proper consultation, take legal advice where useful/ possible. Unison said they could put us on their list to get their press releases which we thought would be very helpful.
- Consider holding more regional workshops. Pursue asking Corporate Watch to put on a regional workshop re analysing Trust accounts to get a better understanding of what is happening and be in a better position to mount challenges. Also scrutinise PROPCO as we should be trying to ensure that any property /land sell offs are appropriate and the proceeds flows back into the NHS.
- set up an e mail network so we can share info re local actions and request support. Also use to organise co-ordinated and collective action.
- Join up with national networks . Jenny Shepherd firstname.lastname@example.org can give you information about the Health Activists network which is a closed group . We can also link in with Health Campaigns together set up by Keep Our NHS Public. Anne from York is a key link as she has been part of the group who have got the campaign off the ground.
- organise another meeting to focus on few issues in more depth and firm up plans of action.
NEXT MEETING ARRANGED FOR Friday 22nd January 2-4pm in the same place – Unison Regional office.
Special thanks to Unison for providing the venue for this and the January meeting and to everyone from the TUs and campaign groups for taking the time out to attend. GP