THE NEXT WEEKS ARE VERY IMPORTANT FOR TAKING ACTION
What we want is to restore the NHS as a public service working co-operatively for patients, not a commercial business driven by competition. The Health Select Committee in 2011 estimated that the cost of running the NHS market that we already have is about £14 billion a year out of £100 billion, and after Lansley’s reforms it will be over £20 billion a year, approaching costs in the USA. These costs only happen in a marketised system, and used only to be 6% of income until the market started being put in place. Scotland and Wales have not gone down this route and are managing to run their NHS fine. i.e. you don’t need the market to run the NHS well.
Petition to local doctors
The Petition asking our GPs to oppose the proposed changes to NHS got 250 signatures in 3 hours on a wet Saturday in Eltham and Blackheath. There is clearly massive public feeling on this issue when people are told the facts. This result was thanks to Greenwich Keep Our NHS Public and Fran and Eileen.
Wed March 2nd . 12.15 am. Volunteers wanted to help with petition signing outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Contact Fran and Eileen, or turn up. Contact Fran or Eileen if you can help with this, or with other petition-signing events over the next week. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wed March 9th. 9.30am. Come and be in the photo of the petition being delivered to Dr Rob Hughes at Ferryview Health Centre, 25 John Wilson Street SE18. He is a member of the Greenwich Shadow Consortium and Chair of the Local Medical Committee. The local press will be contacted about this. Wear bandages as arm-bands. Contacts Fran email@example.com and Edward firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTIONS Email 38 Degrees to ask for an NHS petition with this wording: “We support the NHS. It was founded for the common good, not for profit, at a time of hardship, rationing and national debt in 1948. It was not founded as a business but as an act of unity. We call upon the Coalition Government to abandon its plans to privatise the NHS for which it did not seek and was not given a mandate in 2010.”
Lib Dem MPs’ opposition
Timetable of the Health and Social Care Bill
31st March : The final select committee meeting is on 31st March.
Mid-April : The third reading.
ACTIONS Email and write to the Liberal Democrat MPs, none of whom support this bill, which is not part of the Conservative – LibDem coalition agreement (see Shirley Williams below). There are 57 Lib Dem MPs, and if they all voted against the Bill then it would fail. Copy in your local MP.
Email addresses of Lib Dem MPs here. The two Lib Dem MPs on the Health Committee scrutinising the Bill are: Paul Burstow (Sutton & Cheam) email@example.com and John Pugh (Southport) firstname.lastname@example.org. Also contact Simon Hughes. email@example.com.
Also Lib Dem Councillors at the Town Halls. Lib Dem officials in the local Lib Dem party organisations (available by Googling ‘Lib Dems’). Lib Dems known to us individually.
Lib Dem Baroness Shirley Williams has written about the NHS proposals: “Why we should dismember this remarkably successful public service for an untried and disruptive re organisation amazes me. I have four questions: the cost of the reorganisation, the accountability of the new GP consortium, the role of the private sector and patient choice. I campaigned nationwide in the last general election on the basis of the Liberal Democrat manifesto, reiterating our strong commitment to the National Health Service. The coalition agreement, which promised “to stop top-down re organisations of the NHS” and made no mention of insisting on competition. As a Liberal Democrat parliamentarian, I am under no obligation to support policies outside that agreement.” Baroness Williams of Crosby
The Dr Ramon Niekrash case in Woolwich. This doctor was unfairly dismissed out of hand by the Greenwich Primary Care Trust for whistle-blowing about the low standards in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital that have resulted from front-line staff shortages caused by the expensive bureaucracy which the hospital needs to run the unnecessary market system. If full privatization goes ahead, then it will become impossible for honest doctors to speak out in the interest of patients.
A march on Monday 7th March, starts at 10.30 am from Plumstead Common to a rally at 11.30 am at the QE Hospital, Woolwich Common, SE18. It is to get Dr Niekrash reimbursed for the money he lost. Contact Helen Ellis if you can help by being a marshal: firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters to local GPs and Shadow Consortium
Edward will write from the Greenwich 38 Degrees NHS Group:
To the Greenwich Shadow Consortium, asking them whether they have started taking any actions on commissioning, informing them of local opposition to the proposals, and calling for a round-table discussion with the Shadow Consortium.
To all other GPs in Greenwich, asking them how the community can support them in opposing the proposed changes, and calling for a round-table discussion between the community and the doctors.
FUTURE EVENTS and ACTIONS
Wed March 2nd . 12.15 am. Volunteers wanted to help with petition signing outside the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Stadium Road SE18 4QH. Contact Fran or Eileen if you can help with this, or with other petition-signing events over the next week. email@example.com
Thursday 3 March. 6.30pm Goldsmiths College, main building. Professor Colin Leys, academic, author and campaigner, speaking on his latest book “The plot against the NHS”. The process of privatisation that has been going on for about 20 years, through “any willing provider”, competitive tendering, independent sector treatment centres, “payment by results” etc.
Monday 7th March, 7pm – 8pm. Next meeting of the Greenwich 38 Degrees NHS Group is in Mycenae House bar, 90 Mycenae Road, SE3 7SE.
Wed March 9th. 9.30am: The Petition to Doctors being delivered to Dr Rob Hughes at Ferryview Health Centre, 25 John Wilson Street, Woolwich SE18 6PZ. Come and be part of the photograph, and bring a banner. Wear bandages as arm-bands.
Thursday 10 March 7.30pm. Joint Meeting with Lewisham and Greenwich NHS groups at the Saville Centre, 436 Lewisham High St, SE13 6LJ – just south of Lewisham Hospital before the Town Hall.
The speakers are:
John Lister of London Health Emergency. As well as being a campaigner he is an academic and has written several books on the NHS. He is a great speaker and is incredibly well informed and passionate.
Dr Jackie Davis, NHS Consultant Radiologist and a founder member of Keep Our NHS Public. She too is a powerful speaker and heavily involved in the campaign within the BMA to change its position to one of outright opposition to the bill.
Doris Smith of Lewisham Pensioners Forum will be speaking – the pensioners groups , perhaps more than anyone else, understand what is at risk if the reforms go through. Many have memories from childhood of the pre NHS days and many have been campaigners and activists for years, especially on the NHS.
Tuesday 15th March. 9.15am – Grand Connaught Rooms, 61 – 65 Great Queen Street, London WC2B 5DA. The British Medical Association (BMA) is moving towards all-out opposition to the Health Bill, and doctors may vote to take action against the Health Bill at this all-day Special Representative Meeting.
Contacts Fran firstname.lastname@example.org and Edward email@example.com
Doctors at a BMA London Regional Council meeting have already voted to reject the Bill ‘in its entirety’ and to poll members on ‘forms of action’ that could be taken to block it. The mood at that meeting was ‘incredibly anti the reforms’, and a group of GPs within the BMA is already discussing ‘days of action’ to disrupt the government’s NHS reforms.
Thursday 17th March, 7-9pm. “There is an Alternative – Defend our Services” Woolwich Town Hall, Wellington Street, SE18 6PW. Organized by Greenwich & Bexley Trades Union Council. Speakers include Sally Hunt General Secretary of UCU, Alan Kerr Greenwich Association of Disabled people, Steve Hart UNITE London Region , Tom Gardner School Student Activist.
Saturday 26th March. 11am March starts from Victoria Embankment
Anti-cuts rally in Hyde Park, called by the TUC. Wear bandages as arm-bands, and dress up in working clothes.
Please forward this to friends and neighbours, asking them to write and become active wherever they live. The proposed NHS changes would affect everyone in England and would be very hard to reverse.
If we everyone is aware of what is proposed and we all act together then we can stop them, just as the alliance of 38 Degrees and grassroots organizations stopped the sale of the UK national forests.
Contacts: Edward firstname.lastname@example.org and Fran email@example.com