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:



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