Defend Our NHS Regional Meeting 18.6.5

Present: Anne, Chris, Malcolm from York, Christine from Dewsbury, Helen from Harrogate, Ali from Sheffield,  Tim, Dave, Marc, Nick and Gilda  from Leeds.  Apols . John from Leeds , Trish from Dewsbury

Newsround  from the local


are working well with York People’s Assembly. They organised a fruitful, well attended  lobby of Labour  MEP Richard Corbett on TTIP.

They are planning an event for the anniversary of the NHS on 5th July but trying to avoid making this a bland happy NHS birthday event. They are aiming to have  a hospital bed, someone in Cameron mask and a grim reaper with scythe to chase him away. 

They are cultivating relationships with their new Labour MP Rachel Maskill who is a physiotherapist and  Green party councillor who is on the health Scrutiny committee.

Dewsbury ( including some info from Halifax,  Huddersfield and Castleford  )

Huddersfield also held a successful meeting with Richard Corbett.

Dewsbury Hospital A&E has been downgraded to an Urgent Care Centre. The plans for the hospital are  intimately linked to a bid to provide “Care Closer to Home” . Locale is bidding against a consortium of hospital trusts. No info yet re who has won the bid but an announcement is due shortly and the bet is on Locale. Tim noted that he has heard of speech therapists being asked to cover physio and occupational health  issues on their home visits ( Christine said that speech therapist s are currently working for Locale )

Dewsbury have handed in a petition to their  Health and Wellbeing Board

A number of wards have been closed in mid Yorks Hospital. They have brought in 30 staff from Spain and applied to India for more. 

Dewsbury activists are organising a seminar on Stevens   5 year forward Plan for the NHS on 25th July

at the Womens Centre, 7 Wellington Road, Dewsbury . Latest info notes it will be from  11am – 4pm. Dr Anna Athow (retired General Surgeon & BMA member) will give a presentation on the Plan and there will be lots of opportunity for questions and discussion. 

Halifax and Huddersfield activists continue to campaign to resist the downgrading  and potential closure of some or all  Halifax Hospitals which is a relatively recent PFI build. Christine noted that Halifax are doing regular street stalls and Huddersfield  have gained massive support for a petition.

Castleford ( part of mid Yorks Trust ) has been closed and Virgin are aiming to have a new build on the old Castleford Hospital site to deliver dermatology .


Boots has won the contract for out patient  pharmacy services in Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust ( we didn’t discuss this but Boots and other private firms benefit from a tax loophole that allows them to reclaim VAT from prescriptions. Part of the deal is that they pay tis back to the trust.)Leeds KONP has done some Boots Loots campaigning which also exposes   Boot’s tax avoidance and John P is doggedly pursuing the issue  within the Trust.

Leeds and York Partnership Trust has lost the contract to run mental health services in York in favour of Tees and Esk Valley. Marc suggested that this is a disaster for York and also exposes how trusts are now having to bid against each other .  Out of area placements are rising everywhere.  Christine noted that in Dewsbur y Care Closer to Home is struggling to meet targets for mental health call outs and the service remains well behind that for physical health. Social Care have complained that their referrals to the Mental health Trust are only being picked up after repeat referrals.

Leeds KONP also organising a NHS birthday event on 5th July and our Left Unity members have set up a showing of “Sell Off” and there are plans to roll this out in other venues across the city.

Leeds group are proposing to  put on a Conference in the autumn  ideally with regional support. 


Helen noted that they had a good meeting with Marc from the mental health crisis team in Leeds and did a city centre stall but are still some way off building a local KONP/ Defend our NHS group.

Sheffield   Ali noted that

Ali noted that their group has experienced a surge in recruitment post  election. They have people committed to attending lots of Board and CCG meetings and others keeping up the campaigning on the street. They also have quite a few health workers and think that the campaign to resist unsocial hours and loss of additional pay for weekend working could take off.

They have organised a public meeting on July 2nd with Ray Tallis, one of the authors of “NHS SOS”.

Sheffield ( like Leeds) are not confronting major closures and the CCGs are not rushing to award contracts to private companies. However, a surgery in the City Centre ( Devonshire Green) which serves a  vulnerable community is at risk of closure as it has  MPIG funding and the Blood Transfusion Centre is  threatened with closure.  If it does close the nearest centres would be Manchester and Birmingham.

The ambulance service continues to dilute its skill mix throughout Yorkshire.

2. Thoughts re Separate, Co-ordinated and Joint Planning

Try to put together a regional picture re PFIs. Clearly this has been a big issue in Halifax, Leeds does have debts bit needs more digging. York NHS doesn’t seem to have much or any PFIs.

Think about putting together a region  wide petition on Privatisation, possibly including PFI  where we aim for the 100, 000 signatures needed to qualify for a debate in Parliament .

Try to co-ordinate a more targeted campaign on mental health services in the region.

Work together on challenging plans for the ambulance service which is regional .

Plan a Regional Conference in the autumn. This might allocate the morning to providing information and analysis of the Government and Simon Stevens’   plans for the NHS  including  new models of delivery between primary and secondary care,  integration of health and social care, devolution of budgets to localities, personal budgets ,   reconfiguration  of hospital  provision including  centralisation of specialist care in a smaller number of hospitals with consequent  downgradings and closures.  In the afternoon the Conference might focus on the fightback – organising in the TUs, Challenging the CCGS , Hospital and Local Authority Boards and raising public awareness with street campaigns / events and better use of the media.  We thought that the Conference would need excellent opening  and closing speakers and should involve workshops but these too would need to be well led by informative people . The aim would be to attract medics , health and social care workers and members of the public who are concerned about the future of the NHS.

Join what will almost certainly be a national protest at the Tory Party Conference in Manchester  on Sunday 4th October. 

Think re whether we want another march or alternative public  event  next March / April around the anniversary of the Health and Social Care Act. So far we have marched each year!

3 Action Agreed

3.1 Aim for a Conference in Leeds on Saturday November 14 th Leeds try to sort venue

3.2 Meet in York to agree a framework for the Conference July 16th at 7pm Venue to be confirmed. 

3.3 Revisit idea re petition 


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