Saturday 17th August 2019
Unite Press Release
- Labour’s shadow health secretary Jon Ashworth to address Lincoln rally in support of striking health visitors
Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary Jon Ashworth will give Lincolnshire’s health visitors ‘maximum support’ when he addresses a well-supported rally in Lincoln on Saturday 17 August.
The dispute centres on the calculation by Unite that its 58 Lincolnshire health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to the county council in October 2017.
The latest round of talks with the county council, under the auspices of the conciliation service Acas, broke down yesterday (Thursday) leading to Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel to describe the council bosses as ‘turning old-fashioned pig-headedness into an art form’.
The rally in Lincoln tomorrow will see the protestors meeting in the Minster Yard at 11.00. The march will start at 11.30 going through the city centre and ending with speeches at High Bridge. Lincoln’s Labour MP Karen Lee will also address the rally.
Labour’s shadow health and social care secretary Jon Ashworth will tell the rally that: “An incoming Labour government will make the restoration of the health visitor service in England a top priority in terms of a major boost in recruitment numbers and the funding to match.
“We will stop the constant salami slicing of the service witnessed in recent years which has led to the lowest number of health visitors in England since September 2009.
“We will put an end to the grotesque pay anomalies and erosion of professional standards, such as currently exists in Lincolnshire.
“We recognise the vital work that health visitors do for families and young children during those important early years – and that’s why I am here to give you maximum support.”
The health visitors have already taken or scheduled 13 days of strike action. Today (Friday 16 August), two further 48 hour strikes were announced starting on 27 August and then on 5 September. Both actions commence at 00.01.
Unite regional secretary for the East Midlands Paresh Patel said: “Unite will support our health visitors in Lincolnshire for as long as it takes against a council that has turned old-fashioned pig-headedness into an art form.
“We call on local people to turn out tomorrow to show that their strong support for the health visitors who are the bedrock in local communities delivering a joined-up public health agenda for families, some of whom are in vulnerable circumstances.”
The health visitors are on the NHS Agenda for Change pay scales, but have had no increases in pay since being transferred to the local authority which has different pay rates – even though both council and NHS employees have received wage awards, these health visitors have not.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), is also seriously concerned about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.
SONIK Press Release
- COURT WILL REVIEW PLAN TO SLASH STROKE SERVICES IN KENT
Save Our NHS In Kent, 11 Grosvenor Road, Broadstairs, Kent CT10 2BT. 07984 417489 / 07989 070843
It’s been announced that a court will review NHS bosses’ decision to slash the number of hospitals able to offer emergency stroke treatment in Kent.
The judicial review, mounted by health campaign group Save Our NHS in Kent, (SONIK) will be heard on the first available court dates from September.
Jon Flaig, the SONIK Chairperson said: “This is good news and is down to a great community effort. Ordinary people from across the county raised the £15000 we needed to contribute to the claimant’s legal aid and start the judicial review process.”
The spokesperson said the case was a vital one, of huge importance to Kent. The spokesperson said: “NHS bosses intend to close three out of the existing six hospital stroke units
in Kent, which will greatly increase journey times for the most deprived populations. People in Thanet will be affected the worst.
“In Thanet ambulance journey time will go up by a staggering 300%, leaving residents a minimum of one hour away from urgent stroke care. Mortality and disability rates are bound to increase.” But the health campaigners claim NHS plans won’t just affect Thanet.
“This is a definitely a Kent-wide problem. Medway, also a deprived area, will be badly affected, too, and the rest of Kent is likely to suffer due to the pressure on the whole system,” the spokesperson said.
A key part of SONIK’s case is that Kent needs at least four hyper acute stroke units (HASUs) and one must be in Thanet, to ensure that health inequalities are not exacerbated and all patients reach the care they need within approximately 35 minutes, and for a HASU (stroke unit) to be located in Thanet. NHS bosses are planning for only three HASUs in Kent.
The SONIK spokesperson said: “Among other things we will argue that Kent’s NHS bosses did not properly consider the option of having more than three HASUs and did not consult properly with the public about their proposals. This is a battle we intend to win for the people of this area.”
Carly Jeffrey, a SONIK spokesperson added: "The evidence suggests the decision to close stroke units in Medway, Thanet and Tunbridge Wells was a foregone conclusion. We believe that the public consultation was a box ticking exercise that was also designed to gloss over the fundamental flaws in the plans. There are councillors and medical professionals that have backed up our assessment. This is a national plan that they want to roll out across even more areas - so what is happening in Kent, with these very long journey times, is essentially an experiment and a forerunner of what could - and will - happen elsewhere".Read more ...
Wednesday 14th August 2019
Mike Forster, chair Health Campaigns Together
- A call to support striking NHS staff in Bradford
After 3 weeks of strike action, the UNISON members at Bradford District Hospital have heroically voted for indefinite strike action in opposition to the Trust's plans to transfer ALL ancillary and support staff into a wholly owned subsidiary company (WOSC). The strike begins on Monday 26th August from 6am onwards.
This strike has now assumed huge importance. (Read the I report here). The government plan to allow NHS regulators to begin breaking up the NHS workforce into privatised segments is very quickly unravelling. These plans have already been pushed back in most Trusts thanks to determined union resistance. A victory for the Bradford strikers will see the whole mad scheme thrown in the bin.
The picket lines have been very well supported from Day One. The strikers are united, determined and confident but they need our support for this next critical stage of the dispute.
Health Campaigns Together is calling on all our supporters and affiliates to join the solidarity rally on the first day of the strike. We need messages of support and your banners and placards. We are appealing to you all to make the special effort to join us. The NHS is not for sale!
HCT SOLIDARITY RALLY
MONDAY 26TH AUGUST
BRADFORD DISTRICT HOSPITAL
Duckworth Lane, Bradford BD9 6RJ
Please let our chair Mike Forster know if your campaign group, union or Party can provide a speaker, on 07887 668740
Please don't forget you can also donate to the striking workers hardship fund by sending a bank transfer to:
Name: Unity Trust
Sort Code: 608301
Account Number: 49021215
Or a cheque to:
Bradford Health Services Branch, Unison Office, Field House
Bradford Royal Infirmary, Duckworth Lane, Bradford BD9 6RJ
They sincerely thank you in advance for any contribution you can spare.
The Health Campaigns Together teamRead more ...
UNISON Press Release 14 August 2019
- Ambulance staff ‘in tears’ as private company awarded patient contract, says UNISON
Over 80 ambulance service staff have been left fearing for their jobs, after West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) lost the contract for non-emergency patient transport.
This is a devastating decision for staff after health commissioners in Worcestershire awarded the service to private firm E-zec Medical Transport, says UNISON. This is despite WMAS running it for 30 years and receiving an outstanding Care Quality Commission review.
E-zec has not confirmed if it will keep the patient transport service* based at stations in Kidderminster, Bromsgrove and Worcester. Question marks hang over the pensions and terms and conditions, says UNISON.
UNISON regional organiser Chanel Willis said: "Staff at West Midlands Ambulance Service have been doing a great job, which is reflected in the service’s ‘outstanding’ rating. We are all deeply shocked at the decision to award the contract to a private company.
“Many questions have yet to be answered – primarily where staff will be based. Staff have been in tears since the announcement and are devastated that the decision may affect patient care and their livelihoods.”
Friday 9th August 2019
Mike Forster, chair Health Campaigns Together
- Bradford NHS Strikes, Say NO to backdoor privatisation
The UNISON members at Bradford General Infirmary and St Lukes Hospitals have now completed almost 3 weeks of strike action and although they will return on August 15, they have now voted to come out again indefinitely on a date to be confirmed by their union.
This is an historic and significant decision which has wide implications beyond the borders of Yorkshire and will need wider solidarity support.
The workers are striking against the Hospital Trust’s proposals to transfer all the support and ancillary staff, attached to the Estates and Facilities Department, into an arm’s length private company, known as Wholly Owned Subsidiary Companies (WOSC).
This will inevitably result in the breaking up of the NHS workforce and ultimately lead to far worse pay and terms and conditions. The WOSC idea is also a tax saving dodge for cash strapped NHS Trusts as the new companies are exempt from paying VAT unlike existing arrangements, so it is yet another bribe to force Trusts to go down the privatisation road.
WOSC’s were of course dreamt up by the Tories and pushed through by NHS England, so far with very little success. For some reason Yorkshire seems to have been chosen as a guinea pig region with Trusts trying to bring them in everywhere.
They have been met with determined union resistance across the region in Leeds, Wakefield, York, Doncaster where they have largely failed apart from smaller towns where there is scattered union membership.
Historically, this is a difficult group of workers to organise as it is made up largely of cleaning and domestic staff who tend to work part time and unsocial hours. Tracking them all down and persuading them to join the union is a painstaking and time-consuming task.
It is to the credit of the two main unions, Unison and Unite, that they have managed to push back management in key Trusts.
The Bradford Trust has been especially stubborn and appears determined to try and drive the transfer through by 1st October 2019. Negotiations got nowhere in the early stages pushing the union down the path of strike action.
However, even the most optimistic of activists could not have anticipated the amazing response of the strikers who have been out from Day One in droves. The picket line is a wonderful sight to behold of colour, singing, noise and chanting, combining all the best of Bradford’s rich multi cultured population. Filipinos, Afro Caribbeans, Asian and White British workers have all turned up in force singing and dancing the whole day through. Managers have been out to try and silence the drumming and singing to no avail.
As the dispute has progressed, so confidence has grown. Stories of dirty wards, uncleaned toilets, patients not being fed, massive cross contamination events have only stiffened resolve that the strike is having a big impact and punching a hole in the Trust’s finances.
One day we witnessed a patient, well known to the striking security guards for his alcoholism, being dragged off the hospital grounds by G4S security and dumped on the pavement unconscious!!
Management have held talks but only to try and buy time and have now suggested to the union ACAS is brought in. This only inflamed matters at the strike rally on 8th August and the common refrain in response was to demand all out action to force the Trust’s hands.
One striker summed up the entire mood shouting, ‘we have come this far, we can’t go back now’. There is frustration that they will first return to work before coming out again but likewise a determination, which is only learnt through struggle, that there will be no going back until victory.
This strike is now of huge national importance. A victory will force the Tories to abandon the whole concept of WOSC’s and give workers everywhere huge confidence that strikes can win.
It will also restore morale to the whole NHS workforce if there is a breakthrough here in Yorkshire. Messages of support and financial donations are urgently required. There are also plans for a major demonstration which will also require support.
This is now a strike to the finish and also a war of attrition; we must do all we can to ensure this ends in victory.
· NO to backdoor privatisation; stop the WOSC’s
· Full Support to the Striking Bradford strikers
· Restore a properly publicly funded NHS
· Restore the NHS to full democratic control and accountability to workers, patients and users
Please send donations to: UNISON Health, UNISON Resource Centre, St Mary’s Hospital, Greenhill Rd, Leeds LS12 3QE
Pay in donations to the account at Unity, UNISON Health Branch, Acc No 49021215
Sort Code 60-83-01
Tel No 01274 39683 Email: email@example.com
Tuesday 6th August 2019
- Why the NHS is at risk from a no-deal Brexit
While opinions among campaigners vary on the merits or otherwise of Brexit, there is universal concern at the dangers that would be posed to the NHS by a no-deal Brexit. Jeremy Corbyn has insisted no-deal would be “disastrous” and said Labour will vote against it and call for a referendum. JOHN LISTER looks at the dangers in our Analysis and Debate section.Read more ...
Monday 5th August 2019
- Johnson's "extra" £18 billion - neither new nor enough to repair our NHS
The heavily trailed announcement last weekend by Prime Minister Johnson of an “extra” £1.8 billion for the NHS has swiftly been exposed not only as a blatant effort to win public support prior to an early election, but an equally blatant deception.
Far from being “new money” as Johnson claimed, more than half of it comes from reversing a previous government demand for trusts to cut back on their capital spending by 20%.
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth has been relentlessly exposing the weaknesses of Johnson’s plan on Twitter, summing up that “It’s cash hospitals already had, but ministers blocked them from spending; Hancock has failed to deliver on existing promises; Tory smash & grab raids cut over £4bn from NHS budgets, NHS left struggling with £6bn repair backlog.”
Professor Derek Alderson, President of the Royal College of Surgeons told the Daily Mirror: “We welcome additional investment in hospitals, but today’s announcement is like an absent landlord saying he’ll mend the shower, but the broken toilet, damp walls and dodgy electrics will have to wait.”
Prior to the “extra” £1.8 billion a massive £4.3 billion since 2013 had been siphoned by the Department of Health and NHS England out of capital funds into reducing trusts’ revenue deficits. So severe has been the squeeze on capital funding that among the urgent backlog maintenance tasks four trusts are under threat of intervention by local fire brigades if they do not urgently take steps to improve safety precautions.
The remaining £850m has been allocated to 20 specific projects around the country, leaving dozens of hospitals facing bills for backlog maintenance adding up to £6 billion.
Over two thirds of the “extra” money is predictably flowing to acute hospital services – several of them reversing controversial plans for bed reductions. This leaves just £145m for three schemes to help upgrade neglected and crumbling mental health services and £102m for expanding primary care.
The new projects are all smaller schemes, below £100m: out of a suggested list of 20 substantial (and sometimes controversial) projects drawn up by the Health Service Journal, adding up to £3.5 billion, only one and a half were included.
£1.8 billion equates to just over five weeks of the famous “£350m a week” Johnson and other Brexiters famously promised on their bus would flow to the NHS if we leave the EU, and there seems little prospect of any more coming quickly if Johnson proceeds along current lines towards a no-deal Brexit. All reports forecast that would trigger a recession and a big increase in the budget deficit.
Even if the £1.8 billion is supplemented by a further announcement of a new “technology fund”, expected to be centred on new CT and MRI scanners, it’s clear that the 2016 promise was fraudulent, and that it was cynically used to con voters into believing they were helping the NHS by voting Brexit.
The HSJ analysis points out that a flurry of news on NHS investment is seen as a way for Johnson and the Tories to win over a sceptical public, and that as a result: “National NHS leaders have been told to provide any and all good ideas that can be announced in the “next 100 days”, as the government gears up for a no-deal Brexit and/or a snap general election.”
But if the future is a no-deal Brexit the staffing crisis will come immediately to the forefront of the problems, as the flow of EU-trained staff in to the NHS over many years is abruptly reversed, with a currency collapse further slashing the real value of NHS pay: with no staff to work them or in them even shiny new scanners and buildings are of little use to patients or the NHS.
The HSJ has described the £1.8 billion as 'just a down payment'. It remains to be seen whether any further instalments will be forthcoming.Read more ...
Sunday 4th August 2019
Unite press release
- Lincolnshire health visitors step up pay campaign with more strikes and rallies planned
Health visitors employed by Lincolnshire county council are stepping up their campaign this week in the dispute over not getting paid the rate for the job and the erosion of their professional responsibilities which could adversely impact vulnerable families.
Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, said that the 58 health visitors will be holding demonstrations in Gainsborough (Wednesday 7 August), Lincoln (Thursday 8 August) and Louth (Friday 9 August), as well as holding two more 48 hour strikes later this month – on top of the nine days of strike action already taken.
The two new 48 hour strikes announced are on 15-16 August and 19-20 August. The strikes will start at 00:01.
The dispute centres on Unite’s calculation that its Lincolnshire health visitor members have lost more than £2,000 a year since they were transferred from the NHS to the county council in October 2017.
Unite, which embraces the Community Practitioners’ and Health Visitors’ Association (CPHVA), is also seriously concerned about the downgrading of the health visitors’ professional status, resulting in fewer staff doing the specialist health visitor role.
Unite regional officer Steve Syson said: “Our members have had tremendous support in their local communities by a public that recognises the important work they do for families and children throughout Lincolnshire.
“However, they have been met by a brick wall in the form of a council that remains intransigent, despite three meetings under the auspices of the conciliation service, Acas. The attitude of the council is immoral as it is denying our members legitimate pay rises.
“The council has proffered 30 grade 10 jobs, which they have conjured out of nowhere, that may ensure this pay increase. But these contracts are shrouded in secrecy so we don’t know what would be required from our members – it could mean a long-term erosion of employment condition. Also, these contracts are not enough to cover all of our 58 members.
“Unite remains open for constructive dialogue with the council 24/7 – but until pay parity is guaranteed for all health visitors employed by the county council our campaign for pay justice will continue.”
Details of the demonstrations taking place:
7 August - in Gainsborough - demonstration at 10.00 at Marshalls Yard, Beaumont Street, Gainsborough DN21 2NA to be followed by a march through the town.
8 August - in Lincoln - demonstration at 10.00 at Lincolnshire county council offices, Newland LN1 1Y, also followed by a march through the town.
9 August - in Louth - the protesters will meet at the Cattle Market car park LN11 9EQ which will be followed by a march through the town.
There will also be a rally in Lincoln on Saturday 17 August with protestors meeting in the Minster Yard at 11.00. The march will start at 11.30 going through the city centre and ending with speeches at High Bridge.
Thursday 1st August 2019
- June Hautot
For those who knew her for the big personality and great campaigner that she was, June Hautot died last week, very peacefully at a hospice in Clapham, South London. She was a staunch supporter of, and activist in, SW London KONP and she was also on the Steering Group for a time.
Her funeral will be on Friday 16th Aug at 3.30 at Lambeth Crematorium Blackshaw Rd, London SW17 0DH and then afterwards at June’s house 72 Glasford St, SW17 9HN
Wear bright colours!
The family want any donations to Royal Trinity Hospice, 29, Clapham Common North Side London SW4 0RN
John Lister adds:
“June was already a legend among London campaigners when I first started working for London Health Emergency 35 years ago, in the spring of 1984. She and her husband Arthur had been key activists in the two-year long occupation of St Benedicts Hospital in Tooting (1978-80) to prevent its closure, and June remained a vocal presence in so many campaigns from then onwards.
"She was listed in the very first issue of Health Emergency newspaper (April 1984) as one of a panel of a speakers willing to help build hospital occupations to prevent the growing round of cutbacks and closures.
"Although south London was her main stomping ground, and she went on to assist with union organisation in Kingston, St George’s and other hospitals, June popped up at conferences and rallies all over London.
"There is a black and white picture of her accosting then Tory Health Minister Edwina Currie in much the same way as she later famously tore into Andrew Lansley.
"June was among the hard core of campaigners who helped Health Emergency and local campaigns keep going during the tough times of the New Labour government, when many others held back from the fight for fear of “rocking the boat”.
"She was one of the early supporters of Keep Our NHS Public from its formation in 2005, specifically to oppose New Labour’s experiments with privatisation and PFI, and brought her long experience and fearless militancy into the fight against the Cameron government and the hated Health & Social Care Act from 2010.
"After her celebrated clash with Andrew Lansley I well remember her being in place really early in her seat in the front row of the big rally in Westminster Central Hall in the spring of 2012, at which I was a platform speaker. When I walked onto the stage with Frances O’Grady as the meeting assembled to check on the microphone, June immediately ran up and greeted me: Frances O’Grady recognised the face and asked me who she was – and later name checked June to the near-capacity crowd, winning June a big warm round of applause.
"June’s passion and commitment were priceless: she cannot be replaced. But there is a need for others to come forward and fight as hard as we can to keep up the fight to defend and reinstate our NHS to reverse the cutbacks, fragmentation and privatisation that have seriously damaged our NHS. In the famous words of Joe Hill: don’t mourn, organise.”Read more ...
Tuesday 30th July 2019
- New documentary UNDER THE KNIFE
A crowdfunding target of £20,000 has been set for a nationwide launch of the feature-length documentary - UNDER THE KNIFE - a film that uncovers the systematic dismantling of the NHS in England through cuts, closures, underfunding and privatisation.
‘This is the best film around on the NHS. UNDER THE KNIFE shows the vital importance of the NHS to society and exposes the dark threats facing it. But most important of all, the film gives hope to those who are campaigning to keep the NHS safe for our children. You just have to see it’
Dr Tony O’Sullivan, Retired consultant paediatrician, co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public
The film has been produced by Pamela Kleinot, an investigative journalist, who in 2014 started to research into why the NHS services she was familiar with appeared to be underfunded and undermined.
What started out as a personal project grew into a four-year investigation resulting in a 90-minute documentary film, made with award-winning director Susan Steinberg.
The film is finished, and we need your support to help launch a series of premiere screenings nationwide during the week of October 14-18 so that as many people as possible can see this film. With your help, UNDER THE KNIFE will raise awareness and be a catalyst for a UK-wide campaign.
We aim to organise at least 20 FREE screenings.
26 local 'Keep Our NHS Public' groups have agreed to work with local unions and host screenings in their area; but we need funds to hire the cinema space, promote and co-ordinate the events.
The more funds we raise, the more places we can screen UNDER THE KNIFE to health workers – doctors, nurses, cleaners, admin teams – and health campaigners, trade unions and members of the public. Apart from cinemas, we are keen to host screenings in community centres, town halls, hospitals, universities and schools.
Every penny raised through our crowdfunding campaign will go directly to ensuring that as many people as possible have the chance to see this film for free through nationwide screenings.
WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!
We have a choice: either accept the undermining and privatisation of our healthcare or take up the fight to preserve Britain’s favourite institution.
Pamela Kleinot, Producer of UNDER THE KNIFE says:
"I grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa, where access to health care was not equal. I was a medical journalist and witnessed how the severe inequality for blacks under apartheid impacted every facet of society.
"My father was a doctor and worked in a state hospital for black people. He always told me how wonderful the NHS was. When it began in 1948, it was revolutionary in providing free healthcare to everyone. It is one of the best institutions that humanity has ever created and was the gold standard for the world.
"As I became increasingly aware of the crisis in health care, I began to investigate. During my two years of research, I found that the NHS was being undermined through underfunding, cuts and closures. It was also being covertly privatised which heralds the end of universal health care.
"Do we want to go the route of the American health care system which has bankrupted so many? I was committed to making a film about the NHS to inform the public about how we have got to this place. I have devoted my time and personal money to make this project possible as I think it is vital that we try and save this national institution.
"Communities, health care professionals and campaigners have fought to defend hospitals and services threatened with closure through the courts, in council chambers and on the pavements.
"Campaigners have saved Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals after seven years of struggle. They have followed in the success of the people of Lewisham who won against the government and saved their hospital. The battle rages on as hospitals and GP surgeries around the country close or are at risk and private companies are creeping into the system – most disgracefully in mental health.
· Send this link to others to donate
· Tweet with a photo and tag @UnderTheKnife to say that you have donated and support this action.Read more ...
Thursday 25th July 2019
Ealing save Our NHS
- Campaigners key to reprieve of orthopaedic services
Ealing Save Our NHS reports in its newsletter:
Orthopaedic Cuts at Ealing Hospital shelved:
We recently received disturbing reports from Consultants that there were plans by some managers to move Orthopaedic services from Ealing to Northwick Park Hospital. Initially we were told it would be night-time trauma surgery (emergencies) from 8pm - 8am, but later on, we heard this was to be extended so that all Orthopaedic trauma patients, requiring a stay in hospital would be transferred to Northwick Park (NPH) direct from Ealing’s A&E Department, regardless of what time they arrived. Thus making Ealing Hospital merely a 'stabilise and transfer service' with no Orthopaedic In-Patients at all!
On 21st June, we had a pre-arranged meeting with the London North West NHS Trust Chief Executive, Jacqueline Docherty & Trust Chair, Peter Worthington, who are responsible for Ealing Hospital. Although we did not know the full extent of the proposed cuts at that time, we were able to raise our concerns about the impact of reducing Orthopaedic surgery at Ealing, in particular, how it would further undermine the A&E and the Hospital and seriously affect local people if forced to travel to Northwick Park.
The Chief Executive told us they were not aware of these plans, which she said would have to be agreed at Senior Management level. However the plans still seemed to be progressing until last Wednesday when the Consultants, who have been collectively resisting these cuts, were formally told that :-
"Ealing Save Our NHS (ESON) had gained knowledge of the proposed plan and had raised concerns to the Chief Exec and Chair, who in response had recommended the proposed plans be withdrawn” - It is really nice to know we are seen as a force to be taken seriously!
Also great that joint action by Hospital Consultants and ESON was so effective - let's keep it up to stop further cuts and hopefully get some of our lost services restored.Read more ...
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