A glimmer of hope for the NHS

“The NHS is our preferred provider”.

These are the words of Andy Burnham, Secretary of State for Health. A speech to the King’s Fund has been followed by a letter to TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber, and an agreement of the Social Partnership Forum (representing NHS unions and employers). The documents are here.

This is extraordinary. After years of a deliberate and wilful assault on a public NHS,  this looks like being a real policy shift. Yes, all of us would have written a harder and sharper document, without the prevarications and the loopholes – but nevertheless there are requirements here that make it far harder for NHS ‘commissioners’ to hand over services to big business.

The  furious response from former Secretary of State Alan Milburn highlights the extent to which this is a break with the past. Milburn did his damndest to smash up the NHS when he ran it – and now makes a pile of money as an advisor to the private sector firms muscling in on healthcare. If Burnham was just coming out with the usual New Labour drivel, Milburn wouldn’t be so angry.

Trade unionists and campaigners have a responsibility to seize this opportunity. We’re on the brink of losing primary care now – all those vital community health services that make up over 80% of our NHS. Burnham claims he doesn’t want it to happen. Fine – let’s hold him to account. Let’s hold to account, too, the army of eager privateers in the Department of Health and the Strategic Health Authorities, and the scummy little bureaucrats and empire builders who hold so many senior management positions in the NHS, and the Labour councillors on Health Scrutiny Committees who have been unwilling to defend local services. Let’s get the message out to the army of MPs who are terrified of losing their seats: “Stop the break-up of the NHS”.

Why is Labour doing this? Unison’s Mike Jackson claims it’s ‘partnership’. I think it’s a desperate government flailing around for votes. Actually it doesn’t matter. We’ve got a window of opportunity to save the NHS. Cynicism is understandable – but a mistake if it gets in the way of a fight. Now’s the time to throw every effort into building the biggest, boldest and loudest campaign we can deliver.

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7 Responses to A glimmer of hope for the NHS

  1. Anna Tatton says:

    Thanks for the update Gill. I can depend upon your website for the latest NHS news and decent analysis

  2. Barry Tebb says:

    I have been a carer for 30plus years and have written and edited books on caring.All that Andy Burnham needs to do to wipeout the bulk of privatised NHS provision is to insist that pcts use their funds to enable trusts to re-establish units-especially in long term mental health care-they once had but were forced by DH pressure to close.The savings would be enormous-my son is in a re-hab unit run-very badly by Craigmoor Healtyhcare and Leeds PCT is charged £2,200 per week for that care!(Costs est.via FOI)Muliply £100k by he number of patients in privatised care nationally and the figre would be £1billion plus!NHS trusts could do better for less and not have patients stuck away in the backof beyond where visitor access is like a trek to the north pole!WAKE UP MR BURHHAM-GIVE THAT ORDER-SAVE THE MONEY AND GAIN THE VOTES!

  3. Barry Tebb says:

    Defending the NHS has never been easy and defending it by silent public placarded protest by an OAP in all weathers and having to tie every placard with a garden tie to steel railings fronting a wildeness of sharp shrubs is bloody hard work.The vast majority of the public are very supportive and remain baffled as to why local protest falls on entirely deaf ears but having supported the campaigning protests of Brenda Wiliiams for almost a decade in Camden we have faced vilent opposition from local power elites.Yesterday Brenda’ placards were seized by 3 council officials with two police to form a distraction and provide back-up.The UK is signatory to the Universal 198Convention of Human Rights and no crime or civil wrong was being committed.It can only be that other things going on in Camden which we have discovered have got the local power elite seriously worried and an OAP sitting in silent protest seems an easy target.What we have discovered doesn’t form a tight narrative but my blogging and letter writing has clearly done more than cause irritation.The removal of Professor David Taylor as Chair of Camden and Islington Mental Health Trust last year was bizarre.Details can be found on the Camden New Journal’s web archive.As Trust Chair Taylor’s part-time salary was £37,500 pa.The incident which caused the furore seems a nothing.Taylor told two members of the public to be quiet.One of the two(and this is on the government Hansard web)had served a prison term around the 80′f for sex offences against children.When the law changed and those running public organisations were subject to compulsory CRB checks this man was forced to stand down from 3 local bodies which he chaired or was on the committee of.He had proved very useful to idle officials,fronting a service user organisation which was entirely compliant with the managers’ wishes and never had a lightbulb changed in a decade .The group had coucil and other funds totalling £90k per year.Our activities in spotlighting this man’s unsavoury past led to the closing down of the organisation,which was already under scrutiny by the Charity Commission.We know of two councillors who continue to support this man ,who appears to be at the centre of a network encompassing Trust Board Executives(yet one with a family to support)left apruptly a few weeks ago with no job to go to and he was Professor Taylor’s closest ally.The local press will not go near the story-even the savage hospital cuts were reported for only one week and then the story was killed.I will go on blogging and Brenda will go on protesting and I am suing Camden Council for the £2,200 cost of the illegally seized placards.The well known fact that I briefed against Andrew Way,late Chief Executive of the Royal Free,who was forced to stand down by Monitor and went to Australia no doubt raised some hackles and there are quesuions around the way Dominic Clout,the Camden Police Borogh Commander,seems to have some cases investigated and others not is a cause of serious concern,in fact of all conerns this seems the most serious.

  4. Barry Tebb says:

    Day Hositals became the cornerstone of the mental health system when the asylums were closed fifty years ago.They ,too, have now been swept away and thousands of vulnerable patients have been abandoned to no care.The media have ignored the matter entirely.That is in itself a disgrace.FACILITIES HAVE BEEN CLOSED NATIONWIDE.A few facilities have been re-opened as “Recovery Centres”but nobody actually recovers there-how could they when stays are limited to 12 weeks.Whereas in the old day hospitals a stay of nine months was not uncommon .Vital staff have been got rid of,art therapy studios closed and many units now act as gathering points where CTO patients must report to daily to avoid being reurned to wards under section.The only mention of the closures I have managed to trace was my own in this week online addition of “Community Care”In the same letter I warned of the increase in suicides that are bound to follow.St Pancras Coroner has an 18 month backlog of cases so that from a reported death to an ONS statistic in Camden- where the annual suicide level among women over 60 is 3x the national level -the true level of increased suicides due to the cuts will not become avaible via the ONS until 2013!Camden is particulary bad in lack of appropriate service provision and protest by patients is deeply disapproved of .For a decade poet and veteran protester Brenda Williams has run silent placarded protests against the cuts outside Hampstead’s Royal Free but the illegal seizure of her placards on Friday has led me to question of how far civil rights have been eroded.The decision to seize her placards subjected her huge levels of stress is an absolue disgrace.5 heavies were sent to restrain her and remove her legitimately displayed placards.This matter began in Hampstead Green but it will end in the Supeme Court.

  5. Barry Tebb says:

    Stephen Conroy was Strategy Director for Camden PCT,then Chief Executive at Enfield but now appears to be running the whole of north London as Programme Director of the North Central London Service and Organisation Review.According to a conflation of pieces from The Press(Barnet)and both the Ham n’high and the Camden New Journal, Conroy appears to have been tasked with cutting half a billion from nhs services over a swathe of north London trusts over the next five years.Different papers credit him with massive downgrading of services at the Whittington(80k A and E patients per year to be treated by the already overstretched Royal Free)downgrading services across a gamut of trusts across s sBARNET,ENFIELD,HARINGAY,Camden and ISLINGTON.He claims that 90% of his plans have already been approved by CAG(the Clincal Advisory Group)which is an offshoot of Healthcare for London,a cover for NHS London,in existence for some years but never credited with any clout.Suddenly Conroy-who only joined the NHS in 2000-appears to have been delegated with ministerial authority-no mention of the guaranteed ringfencing of NHS spending by Labour and Tories,no mention of consultations,just Conroy as the great I AM,behaving with the panache of a Secretary of State for Health,issuing Executive Orders so fast that its hardly surprsing the local press are bothered and bewildered and the general public would,I suspect,happily see Conroy publicly garotted.Every bad idea already mooted and abandoned from polyclinics downwards,has received Conroy’s imprimatur and he casually states that “Promises made can’t be guaranteed”.Does he indeed!The upcoming elections do not seem to bother Conroy-he ia BIG BOSS,a very big cheese and one that smells very ,very unpleasant.Poet and Protester Brenda Wiliams ironically dedicated one of her sonnets in LAMENT FOR THE DAY HOSPITAL(in full on the net ,just type it in)prophetically some years ago)”Make way for the bad guy,there’s a bad guy coming through,a used-car salesman,that’s what/They call you”.Poets are seers .Read the poem,send it to your MP.Ask the DH what’s going on.I don’t know and I can’t find out but its the worst news north Londoners have heard in a decade.This Mr Fixit is one that needs his P45 yesterday at the latest.

  6. Barry Tebb says:

    The Health Service Journal is censoring the hottest NHS story in London-half a billion cuts to health services in north London,including the proposed closure of the Whittington A and E,the most red hot story in all the local weeklies-stemming from where exactly?The HSJ said NHS North Central London is “just a commissioning group of pcts’s”but a DECOMISSIONING GROUP would be a more apt title.Even when the junior health minister O’Brien and local heavy Frank Dobson-to say nothing of the population of Camden,Islington,Barnet,Enfield and Haringay- marching in thousands shouting NO while Rachel Tyndall and Stephen Conroy are saying that “Promises may have to be broken”.A bit was in the Guardian and the Evening Standard say they are interested-I mean they would be ITS NEWS.All this in the run up to the Election-why would the DH authorise it?.My guess is they haven’t.Tyrant Tyndall and Comissar Conroy have hired the Connaught Rooms for a “stakeholders meeting” next Wednesday around this issue but its clearly a high priced knees- up for rentavote cronies.I’m as much-or as little-a “stakeholder”as anyone but I got the superfast bumsrush when I phoned Tyndall’s gofer Sarah Shilling-for an entry visa-even though I was also asking on behalf of a Foundation Trust Govenor!How much to hire the Connaught Rooms for a day?£20k or more no doubt.Conroy is a stalwart vetter and barrer but he and Lady Tyndall better watch their step-they might persuade the HSJ to keep mum but Big Daddy at no 10 might get a teeny bit angry at their antics when May 6th is weeks away.

  7. chris says:

    We just had our health care vote yesterday in the usa. I hope all ends up well for us and the uk also. cheers

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