Friday, 21 October 2016

October 2016 newsletter

October 2016
Dear Supporter,

September and early October have been busy months for the campaign.


Before the AGM of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust on 14th September, SOH supporters demonstrated outside the meeting, handing out our information leaflet on STPs. Chair of the Governing Body, Sir Richard Sykes, was ‘caught on camera’ by campaigners. He acknowledged that the NHS is underfunded, that there is no room for more efficiency savings and that ‘we’re killing staff’ through overwork. This was taken up by BBC London News. Here’s the BBC version of our video:

Supporters also attended the AGM itself, asking important questions about the STP – the financial basis, time scale, lack of public consultation and the future of both Charing Cross and Ealing Hospitals. We were told that CX would not be turned into a local hospital within the next 5 years, but this was still their expectation. They have been forced to accept that the services out of hospital are simply not there now. The same assurances don’t seem to be forthcoming for Ealing Hospital.

We attended the Imperial Board meeting later in the month, where Dr Tracey Batten, CEO of Imperial, publicly announced that she would be meeting with officers of SOH to look at how consultation might be improved. Clearly a sign that what we are saying is causing NHS bosses to be worried!

H&F CCG CONSULTATION MEETING ON THE STP (Sustainability and Transformation Plan)

By carefully planning for this meeting on 3rd October, SOH supporters and other members of the public were able to stop the CCG continuing with its ‘sales’ agenda for the meeting. We insisted that, rather than scheduled ‘sales’ workshops, there should be more questions and discussion contributions from the public. The introductory presentations from Health bosses were a gloss on what the STP means. They were followed by a counter argument from Steve Cowan, leader of H&F Council, which, with Ealing Council, has refused to sign the STP. Cllr Cowan stressed that the plans still include closure of Charing Cross Hospital in the future and Ealing much sooner. He also pointed out that the plans are working towards more cuts and more privatisation in the NHS.

SOH campaigners raised the important issues of lack of real consultation, of failures to provide evidence for their claims that moving care out of hospitals would work, of increasing pressures on GPs etc. And we gained a promise – yet to be fulfilled – that the CCG would send Merril, our Chair, the background papers providing both clinical and financial evidence for their plans … We will see… But, despite the ever increasing workload on GPs now and even more under the STP, Dr Tim Spicer, Chair of the CCG, stated explicitly that there is unlikely to be an increase in GP numbers. It would appear that, under the STP, GPs surgeries would be “reconfigured”, perhaps closed, with a smaller number of locations and that patients might lose their traditional and trusted relationship with their local GP surgery. We suspect the public (us!) won’t accept this!

STPs are clearly not going to work – and certainly not in the context of ongoing cuts to the budgets of local authorities and, in real terms, to health care.

If you live in H&F or in Ealing Boroughs, please write to your local councillors to say how much you support these councils’ rejection of STPs.

For those in other boroughs, please write to local councillors pointing out that the plans simply cannot work and that all borough councils will share the blame for the underfunding of our healthcare.

Across the country, in each of the 44 STP footprints, local people are finding that their local health services are under unprecedented attack. It is still the case that many areas have not published their STPs – the NW London STP was one of the first published because of a Freedom of Information request from campaigners in Brent. Other areas are also organising and protesting against the plans to cut health budgets and to reorganise health services – more and more acute hospitals are under threat.

SOH joined other London campaigns and campaigners from Grantham, Huddersfield and Banbury to protest at closure and reorganisation plans at a rally in Trafalgar Sq on Monday 10th October. London campaigners – from SOH, Ealing and Lewisham – were there to support the northern campaigners as they presented their petitions to the Dept of Health and to Downing Street.

The monthly Ipsos-MORI poll of public attitudes published across the media this week, shows concern about the NHS moving to the top priority again, a concern shared across the country because of the underfunding and undermining of the NHS and even further cuts to public health provision – a key feature of STPs.

Together we can fight these plans;  together we can win!


Thanks to all who joined us at the North End Road Autumn Market on 8th October – and thanks to H&F Council for again helping us to be there! We distributed leaflets, spoke to many people, got more signatures for our petition, received donations – and distributed badges and t-shirts for a donation!


A warm thanks to all those who have helped us deliver leaflets – in H&F and much more widely. Local supporters have already distributed many thousands of leaflets – with more about to be distributed.

We regularly produce leaflets with updated information for distribution. If you would like to join those who are delivering in their area, could you please email us at giving us contact details and we will get back to you.

SOH is a campaign group of local volunteers who are fighting to protect our health service. We are entirely dependent on contributions for our work. If you would like to contribute – and many thanks to those who have already done so! – you can send a contribution to Save Our Hospitals, 7 Kimbell Gardens, London SW6 6QG or pay directly into our account with Lloyds: Sort Code 309897 Account No. 39956060

'No extra cash' May's message to the NHS

"Number of cancelled operations Imperial NHS Trust
is no laughing matter, top doctor reveals in letter to The Times" Ross Lydall, Evening Standard

**Published plans** in motion to

restructure NHS along US private healthcare insurance lines 

Act now or the NHS will be insurance-based system within 10 years, warns doctor who resigned on live TV

BMA: Theresa May lacks understanding about seriousness of NHS crisis

Brexit: A disaster or an opportunity for UK Life Sciences Sector?
Event speakers:
Lord Lansley – former Secretary of State for Health
Richard Phillips – Director of Health Policy, ABHI & Non-Exec Director of West Midlands and South West Peninsula AHSNs

Little-known fact: the tune Nero played while Rome burnt was called "efficiency savings". #NHS
David Schneider, Comedian

“The moment that these issues become a question of urgent and vital importance, not only to NHS staff or NHS campaigners but to all concerned citizens, that’s the moment we’ll all have won this”.
Yannis Gourtsoyannis

Friday, 14 October 2016

Making Good the Information Deficit

Another underwhelming "public engagement" meeting in K&C last night. Around 30 local people were greeted by 9 NHS employees tasked with drumming up support for the health cuts & closure package known as the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). The plan affects all 190,000 K & C residents so the bureaucrats clearly have a lot to learn about reaching out to all the people. Those present asked searching questions about the projected £1.3 billion "savings" (cuts) from the scheme including the closures of CX and Ealing hospitals. It's significant that Save Our Hospitals officers have been asked to meet Imperial Chief Executive Dr Tracey Batten to discuss shortcomings in the consultation process. 

SOH Sat Stall

SOH will be on the streets again this Saturday making good the information deficit about the STP. Join us if you can.
SOH Sat Stall Sat 15th Oct 2 - 4pm Shepherds Bush Market Entrance 7 Uxbridge Rd (by Bush theatre / old library )
(see calendar attached for more stall dates)

NW London 8 Borough STP Scrutiny

Councillors from all 8 boroughs affected by the STP will scrutinise the STP after a presentation by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) this Friday.
Agenda here: The JHOSC meeting is held in public but is not a public meeting though we hope contributions from ordinary folk will be allowed.
JHOSC meeting (STP Scrutiny) Fri 14th Oct 11am Council Chamber Ealing Town Hall

Health Select Committee inquiry into NHS finances

This parliamentary committee has started an inquiry into NHS finances in response to therecent request from NHS Providers - the trade association for NHS Foundation Trusts. They have responded to the underfunding crisis by asking the inquiry to investigate a range of chilling proposals - including ending comprehensive NHS care that's free to all at the point of use, based on people's clinical need. The suggested terms of reference are bad news reading like an attempt to normalise and validate cuts and privatisation wrapped up in a big STP bow. We have to make sure that this is not the outcome and instead push for adequate NHS Funding, an end to privatisation and a rethink of STPs. You can make your views known by emailing Health Select Committee Chair conservative MP Dr Sarah Woollaston.

Supporting Each Other North & South

STPs are planned nationwide and opposition to them will only be effective if we campaign both locally and nationally. There's an invitation to show support for the campaign to keep Epsom, Queen Mary's Children's and St Helier Hospitals open at a public meeting on Oct 20th. One of the architects of the plan to close CX Hospital Daniel Elkeles is heavily involved - it would be great if those with long memories could attend and inform SW London of the damage he intended in NW London.

Keep Our St Helier Hospital Public Meeting 20th Oct 7.30 Thomas Wall Centre 52 Benhill Avenue Sutton SM1 4DP

We had a great example of solidarity on Monday when a number of health campaigns including SOH joining up to welcome Huddersfield and Chorley hospital campaigners to London to present their huge anti-closure petition to Downing St.

Let struggling GP surgeries fail, says NHS England letter

Some struggling GP surgeries in England will be allowed to fail and close, according to a leaked document.
A letter from an NHS England official to managers and GPs in one region suggests vulnerable practices could be left to "wither by the system".
The note, seen by the BBC and Pulse magazine, claims NHS England is no longer able to "continue supporting practices irrespective of their ability… to transform appropriately".
NHS England denied this was the case.
A spokesman for the British Medical Association said it was "unacceptable" that some NHS managers believed that some GP practices would be left to close.

Vulnerable GP surgeries

A practice may be vulnerable due to:
  • a reduction in resources
  • rising workload
  • recruitment problems
  • understaffing
These are often practices rated by regulators as "inadequate" or "requiring improvement".

It comes as media reports suggest much of a special fund to help struggling GP surgeries has not yet been handed out more than a year after it was unveiled. In June 2015, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced a £10m investment in GP practices in England which were deemed to be vulnerable. This was formally launched by NHS England later in the year.
But last week, the medical publication Pulse reported that barely any of the fund had reached GPs. Managers administering the fund in each area were said to be still identifying which vulnerable practices would qualify for the support.
NHS England did not deny the report, though a source said the organisation was "working through its local teams to ensure the funding available through the vulnerable practice programme is fully committed to named individual practices by the end of October".
Around 800 out of a total of 8,000 practices are deemed by NHS England to be in the vulnerable category. The criteria include a high number of patients per GP and an "inadequate" or "requires improvement" rating by the regulator, the CQC.
NHS chiefs said the aim was to provide support for practices under pressure and to ensure patients had continued access to high quality care.
In April 2016, NHS England announced an extra £16m for this year for a so-called "practice resilience programme", with another £24m in subsequent years.
This pool of money was also aimed at shoring up struggling practices and was part of the GP Practice Forward View unveiled by the head of NHS England Simon Stevens.
But a letter sent by Paul Twomey, medical director of the NHS England North Yorkshire and Humber area team, to local GPs and health officials in August suggests a harder line stance.

Transform or wither

In it he says: "The message we need to communicate to general practice is the GP Practice Forward View must be about transformation and in that sense is not like a pilot."
He goes on to express his belief that local health leaders will understand that "vulnerable practices must either transform and deliver a quality service or be allowed to fail and wither by the system. We are no longer in a position to continue supporting practices irrespective of their willingness or ability as a provider to transform appropriately."
Dr Richard Vautrey from the British Medical Association's GP committee said this approach was unacceptable.
He called on the government to deliver the funding immediately and "deter a mindset amongst managers that some GP practices can be allowed to disappear".
An NHS England spokesperson said: "Rising patient demand is placing GPs under more pressure and that is why we are reversing the historic under-investment in general practice through a wide-ranging action plan, backed with half a billion pounds to support struggling practices.
"This includes a four-year, £40m programme for helping the GP surgeries facing the most difficulties and further practical measures to stabilise general practice for the future."
References to surgeries and practices being "allowed to fail" comes at a sensitive time in the debate about the state of NHS primary care in England.
There has been a steady stream of surgery closures and recruitment problems. GPs complain of a growing and sometimes intolerable workload.
Last month 2,000 patients were left without a GP after a surgery was closed in Nottingham following an "inadequate" regulatory rating. They were advised to contact other surgeries nearby.
In July, an Oxfordshire doctor's surgery announced it would close because it claimed changes to the national GP contract made it "financially unviable" and two partners were due to retire. This week, a North Yorkshire practice said it would close in the New Year.
NHS England, while promising to boost the share of the overall NHS budget going to general practice, has encouraged doctors to pool resources by forming "super-partnerships" and federations.
Improving out-of-hours access and working more closely with community health services are also on the task list for GP groups. The underlying message is that more efficient ways of delivering care at a time of stretched resources are required.
NHS chiefs are under pressure to find efficiency savings and a multitude of smaller practices might not be the best use of resources.
But the danger is that a process of modernisation and consolidation involving surgery closures could leave patients in some areas unable to get a GP appointment.

Can we believe STP nightmare scenario for London’s NHS: £4.5 billion cost of ‘doing nothing’?

CAMPAIGNERS were today protesting at plans to cut £4.5 billion from the NHS in London by 2020 that they fear will result in hospital closures.
Draft “sustainability and transformation plans” have been drawn up for five parts of the capital, with officials warning that “doing nothing” will see hospitals and GP commissioners falling massively into debt due to the increasing cost of caring for an ageing population while battling against NHS staff shortages.
As the Standard revealed in May, the axing of 500 hospital beds is proposed in North-West London to help prevent a £1,299m overspend, heightening longstanding fears for the future of Charing Cross and Ealing hospitals.
In South-East London, the “do nothing” option is forecast to result in a£1,015m overspend. Officials have proposed plans to “reduce pressure on and simplify A&E”.
In North-East London a £500m overspend is predicted. No closures are proposed but health bosses want to reduce the number of hospital attendances.
In South-West London the gap would be £900m – amid concern that none of the area’s hospitals meet new standards for emergency care. Particular problems are reported at St Helier and St George’s hospitals. The funding gap in North-Central London is predicted to hit £876m.
Campaigners, including those fearing for the future of hospitals outside London, were marching from Trafalgar Square to the Department of Health from 12.30pm. It was the first united bid to challenge ministers about the implications of the plans, which were ordered by the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens.
Dr Louise Irvine, a GP who was involved in the campaign to save Lewisham hospital, said: “We don’t think their ideas of how to save £1 billion [in South-East London] are credible. We see them as a hospital closure programme.
“They have not announced anything yet – they are being kept secret – but people are seeing they are almost all about reconfiguration, shutting down district general hospitals. They come up with this fantasy story about community care that is nothing more than blue sky thinking.”
A spokesperson for NHS England said: “The NHS locally is now working together on shared plans to improve mental health, cancer care and GP services for the communities they serve, with hospitals now working in partnership rather than competing against each. The best way forward is for local doctors, hospitals and councils to work together with their local communities.”

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Huddersfield A&E battle taken to 10 Downing Street

And right to the door of the Department of Health

The bid to save Huddersfield’s A&E took their battle to the most powerful address in the UK.
Campaign group #HandsOffHRI delivered a petition with more than 134,000 signatures to Prime Minister Theresa May at Number 10 Downing Street this afternoon.
The bid to save Huddersfield’s A&E took their battle to the most powerful address in the UK.
Campaign group #HandsOffHRI delivered a petition with more than 134,000 signatures to Prime Minister Theresa May at Number 10 Downing Street this afternoon.
Earlier the campaign, battling the controversial Right Care Right Time Right Place plan, joined other groups, fighting to save their local hospitals, in Trafalgar Square.
Following a rally and chants of ‘Hands Off HRI’ the groups marched down Whitehall drawing attention from tourists and sympathetic bus and taxi drivers who tooted their horns in support.
The entourage assembled outside the Department of Health and continued the chanting which echoed off the walls of the building.
Meanwhile a small group, including local MPs Barry Sheerman, Jason McCartney and Paula Sherriff, crossed Whitehall to hand a copy of the petition to Number 10.
After handing in the petition against the plan to close Huddersfield’s A&E and centralise emergency care in Halifax, the campaigners regrouped in Parliament Square for another rally and more chanting.
Campaign founder Karl Deitch said: “We knew there would be a big crowd today. Hopefully it will make people’s ears prick up.
“We are not wasting our time doing this until we get what is rightfully ours – and that is an HRI with full emergency services.”
Joining the Westminster demonstration were Scissett couple Rachel and Martin Devereux with their two-year-old son Caeleb, 2, and baby Hemera.
Rachel said: “It’s our children’s future. Huddersfield is far too large to have no A&E.”
Dewsbury MP Paula Sherriff said: “There’s complete under-investment in the NHS and it needs tackling.”
She added to campaigners outside the Department of Health: “Don’t let them fob you off.”
If the plan goes ahead it would leave all of Kirklees without an A&E, once emergency care ceases at Dewsbury District Hospital.
HandsOffHRI secretary Nicola Jowett said the visit to Downing Street had been empowering.
She said: “It was awesome. We asked if Theresa May was playing out! That was the most Yorkshire thing ever.
“It was quite empowering because at the moment she is the most important person in the country.”
Campaign chairman Mike Forster said: “It has gone better than we expected.
“We’ve had fantastic support from the public.”
And campaigner Ria Flatley, who helps design HandsOffHRI merchandise, added: “It was a real confidence boost with the reception we got in Trafalgar Square.”

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