Sunday, 25 June 2017

POST ELECTION - HOPE FOR THE NHS?


June 2017
Dear Supporter,

Teresa May called an unexpected and, in the eyes of many, an unnecessary general election on June 8th, expecting to increase her majority. She failed!

Polling research seems to be clear that the NHS was the single most important factor for people when they decided who to vote for. The result should be seen as an emphatic rejection of the government's handling of the NHS over the past few years.
THANK YOU FOR VOTING FOR THE NHS
As everyone noticed, Jeremy Hunt was hidden from public view during the entire election campaign. Unfortunately, he's been reappointed as Health Secretary. Would no one else accept the job? Or is this a sign that Hunt's destruction of the NHS is to continue? We do know that there are now health campaigns across England who are determined to defend Our NHS.

Meanwhile, London has recently experienced some horrific events - terrorist attacks and, in our own area, the devastating fire at Grenfell Tower. SOH has written to Imperial Health Trust to express our huge appreciation of health workers in responding to the urgent needs of those taken to our local hospitals. 

'CHOOSING WISELY' ... OR RATIONING?

In the NW London footprint, the CCGs are determined to cut £135 million - around 5% of expenditure - in the current financial year in order to 'balance their budgets'. 

As a first step they are asking for views on their proposals to ration medicines that GPs have been prescribing up to now. Patients will be expected to buy these over the counter in future.

Costs will bear much more on those with low incomes who may not be able to afford over the counter medicines. Further, people on low incomes are in general more likely to suffer several conditions than those who are well off and thus will have to pay more for needed medicines. It will be noticed that there is a racial or ethnic element to this. It is unfortunate – but a fact – that people from ethnic minorities are more likely to be on low incomes than other groups. This exercise may also be not just cost cutting and rationing – which is clear – but also a “market tester” to see how much people can be gradually induced to move further along the road to paying for healthcare on top of the taxes that they already pay to fund the NHS.

We are asking supporters to take a few minutes to respond to the CCG 'consultation' before June 30th by following this link - please OPPOSE all measures that suggest patients should pay for anything and stress that GPs should have the freedom to prescribe based on health needs. It seems that many pharmacies and possibly GP surgeries do not know about this rationing exercise. Here's the link:

https://choosingwiselynwlondon.commonplace.is/

This is the first of what we fear will be multiple cuts and rationing exercises to local health provision across NW London. SOH and other campaigns will continue to resist such attacks on our health services.


THREATS, ‘LIES’, VINDICATION

Over the last 5 years we have been fighting plans to downgrade Charing Cross Hospital from a major acute hospital to little more than a glorified Urgent Care Centre, with a huge loss of beds, consultants, A&E and acute services.

Hammersmith and Fulham Council joined the fight to keep the hospital open. This year, with the council tax bill, they delivered posters saying SAVE CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL to all residents asking that they be put in windows.

Health bosses, under attack for years from campaigners, were clearly rattled by this. They wrote to the council leader, Stephen Cowan, threatening to raise a formal complaint to the Dept for Communities and Local Government, claiming that the council was going beyond their remit, wasting tax payers money and upsetting NHS staff and patients by claiming the hospital was still going to close.

Later, Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, received a similar threatening letter about council funds being used to fight the closure of Ealing Hospital. It is no coincidence that both councils are in the same STP footprint (NW London) nor that both councils were the 1st to refuse to sign up to the STP.

Health bosses claim the hospitals are not closing despite the significant downgrading. As Stephen Cowan has pointed out in an even more recent letter to all residents, “It’s like demolishing someone’s house only to tell them they have in fact not lost their house because the new garden shed they’ve been given will henceforth be known as a ‘local house’.”

During the general election, the Tories reprinted the CCG/Imperial letter to Cllr Cowan after it was published on Imperial’s website, and used it as part of their election campaign claiming the council, and by implication campaigners, were lying about the threat to the hospital.

Just after the election Guardian Online published an article which showed that only 13% of the hospital site would be used for health purposes – the remainder to be sold off to property developers. The now amended article (https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jun/16/most-of-central-london-hospital-to-be-sold-off-secret-plans-reveal ), states both that no closure will go ahead without consultation but also, in direct contradiction), the DoH confirmed that consultation had already taken place in 2012/13 and closure plans will go ahead.

Campaigners believe that threats to the councils and pressure on the media are a sign of how rattled health bosses are in the face of wide-spread public opposition to their plans and of councils who are standing up for their hospitals.

WE WILL NOT BE BULLIED!
DATES FOR YOUR DIARY


June 28th        SOH AGM  7.30pm
Hammersmith Town Hall (Please note that we had to postpone the AGM advertised earlier) ALL WELCOME - it's an  open meeting.



July 1st            NATIONAL DEMO - see above. GREAT IF YOU CAN JOIN US

July 1st            PARSONS GREEN FAIR - from 11.30 - all day
SOH has a stall so if you can't make the demo, please join us there.

July 5th             NHS BIRTHDAY STALL - CHARING CROSS HOSPITAL - 
12-2pm. This  is one of many events across the country celebrating 69 years of the NHS. And supported by many of the health unions! Cakes - including  birthday cake and a huge birthday card to sign. Hope you can join us.





Best wishes,
Merril
Chair, SOH
To email SOH:
scxandh@gmail.com

SOH on the web:



Friday, 16 June 2017

‘Campaigners Were Right All Along – and so is the council’

Most of central London hospital to be sold off, plans reveal



Exclusive: Charing Cross hospital to be cut to 13% of current size and services diverted to facilities around the city, documents show


 In March 2015 former prime minister David Cameron said it was scaremongering to suggest the Charing Cross A&E department was earmarked for closure. Photograph: Gregory Wrona / Alamy/Alamy

Charing Cross hospital, a flagship NHS facility in the heart of London, is to be cut to just 13% of its current size under proposals contained in sustainability and transformation plans published last year in 44 areas across England.
Many of the officially published plans lacked precise detail about how local services would change, but internal supporting documents seen by the Guardian reveal the scale of the closures at the London site.
The proposals claim much of the care currently offered at Charing Cross can be transferred to “community settings” such as local GP services, but health campaigners and clinicians say the transformation could endanger patients.
The documents include a map detailing how 13% of the current hospital site will remain, with the rest of its prime real estate in central London sold off. The plan is to introduce the changes after 2021.
NHS chiefs have stated as recently as March that “there have never been any plans to close Charing Cross hospital”, and in March 2015 the then prime minister, David Cameron, said it was “scaremongering” to suggest that the Charing Cross A&E departmentwas earmarked for closure. The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, echoed the claims.
However, in the internal NHS documents the apparent downgrading of Charing Cross is outlined in great detail.
The plan is to axe 10 major services at Charing Cross – 24/7 A&E, emergency surgery, intensive care and a range of complex emergency and non-emergency medical and surgical treatments. The remaining services would be a series of outpatient and GP clinics, X-ray and CT scans, a pharmacy and an urgent care centre for “minor injuries and illnesses”. Around 300 acute beds will be lost.
The internal documents state: “The significant impact of reconfiguration on inpatient activity will be the movement of activity from Charing Cross and Ealing.”
The plans have sparked a row between the borough where Charing Cross is based – Labour-controlled Hammersmith & Fulham council - and the NHS North West London Collaborative of Clinical Commissioning Groups, which is driving the changes.
Stephen Cowan, the leader of the council, has accused the NHS chiefs of deliberately misleading the public about the Charing Cross plans.
“It’s like demolishing someone’s house only to tell them they have in fact not lost their house – because they’ll be given a new garden shed which will be called their ‘local house’,” said Cowan.
He said NHS chiefs had rebranded the urgent care centre for minor injuries and would be run by GPs and nurse practitioners as a local A&E.
“That still constitutes the demolition and closure of Charing Cross hospital in its current form. No one would see what is left as a hospital in any generally accepted definition of the word,” Cowan added. “A ‘local hospital’ is a clinic. A class 3 A&E is an urgent care clinic.”
A spokeswoman for North West London Collaboration of Clinical Commissioning Groups said: “We are still committed to taking forward changes as agreed by the secretary of state in 2013. We have been clear that we will have local services in place to meet demand and deliver the necessary services for patients before we make any changes to Charing Cross.
“Our current focus is on delivering those new and improved services for local people. We have been clear that no changes will be made before 2021 and that for Charing Cross we will bring forward a strategic outline case in the future which sets out the capital requirement for making these changes and that remains our intention.
“As we look at changes to Charing Cross hospital we will of course continue to work closely with the council and value their important input into these discussions.”
NHS officials have accused Hammersmith & Fulham council of breaching the code of recommended practice on local authority publicity by circulating flyers to residents in March of this year warning of the closure of Charing Cross as a major hospital.
The council delayed replying due to election purdah but Cowan has recently drafted a response to NHS chiefs accusing them of “playing fast and loose with the English language” and demonstrating “a contempt for the public who you evidently hope are taken in by such misrepresentation”.
In the letter, Cowan adds that the published plans for the future of the hospital have avoided mentioning much of the detail contained in the confidential plans.
Charing Cross is thought to be one of five London hospitals that a recent government-commissioned review – by a former University College London hospital chief executive, Sir Robert Naylor – identified as each being worth more than £1bn if sold.
The NHS in England is gearing up to start selling off billions of pounds worth of land and property in order to free up cash to tackle what Naylor estimated to be a £10bn backlog of repairs to sometimes crumbling old buildings.
The Health Service Journal disclosed last week that the Department of Health was preparing to create six regional public/private partnerships covering all of England that would oversee such sales. The plan, codenamed Project Phoenix, would see the proceeds from asset sales being shared between NHS organisations and private firms. Under the plan, London and the south-east would comprise one giant, and very valuable, area.
​The Guardian






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