North Kirklees NHS Support and Dewsbury Keep Our NHS Public (Save Dewsbury Hospital services) have asked Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander to support their campaign to stop and reverse NHS cuts and sell offs.
These two local campaign groups – whose next joint campaign meeting is at 7.30pm on Monday 25 January 2016, at 7 Wellington Street Dewsbury, when all are welcome – are leaving no stone unturned in their efforts to stop and reverse NHS cuts and sell offs which, chillingly, seem set to leave the whole of Kirklees with only a small local hospital that lacks acute and emergency services.
At a meeting of more than 20 groups of NHS defenders and campaigners that met with Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander MP on Thursday 14 Jan in London, Christine Hyde from N. Kirklees NHS Support explained how public health services had been fragmented after 2012 legislation split responsibility for buying them between Councils and NHS Clinical Commissioning Groups.
Describing the commissioner/provider split as “utterly absurd”, Ms Hyde said,
“Now each Genito Urinary Medicine Consultant is having to work under at least two contracts, one commissioned from the Council to treat sexually transmitted infections and one with NHS England, as the specialist commissioner, to treat HIV. And that’s before you get to possible subcontracting for clinic work.”
She also highlighted the proven dangers of sub-optimal treatment from profiteering pharmacies that prescribe for gonorrhoea treatment. This has hastened the development of antibiotic resistant strains of the disease now found in Leeds.
Patricia Foley pointed out that health inequalities in Dewsbury will only be worsened by the downgrading of local maternity services from consultant to midwife led; whilst A&E at Dewsbury District Hospital (DDH) is to be reduced to little more than a walk-in triage centre for Pinderfields. She also raised the fact that PFI -free DDH is the victim of Mid Yorkshire Hospital NHS Trust’s PFI deals for Pinderfields and Pontefract hospitals.
The purpose of the meeting, set up and organised by campaign groups across the country linked together in a National Health activist network, was to:
- tell the shadow Health Secretary how NHS privatisation and cuts to NHS funding and services have damaged hospitals, GP and Community Health services across the country;
- ask her whether and how, key Labour NHS policies will support the campaigners in their drive to stop and reverse NHS cuts and privatisation.
Central to the campaign groups’ questions, was whether the Shadow Health Secretary supports the NHS Reinstatement Bill, to renationalise the NHS.
A Nationalised NHS is supported by 88% of the population in England and Wales , according to a 2013 You-Gov poll.
The NHS Bill will redirect back to patient care the huge sums of money that are currently wasted on the NHS market bureaucracy that has built up because of NHS marketisation and privatisation. No one has bothered to count the costs, but estimates range from £4.5bn/year up to £30bn/year.
In July 2015, Caroline Lucas MP, Jeremy Corbyn MP and 1o other MPs from 5 political parties in all tabled the Private Members’ NHS Bill ( previously known as the NHS Reinstatement Bill). It sets out the way to restore the NHS as a fully publicly owned, publicly funded and publicly run health service, that is comprehensive, universal, free at the point of need and that the Sec of State has a duty to provide.
Importantly it is supported by the BMA, the Medical Practitioner’s Union and Doctors for the NHS (previously the NHS Consultants Association), many voluntary organisations and the Green Party of England and Wales.
Allyson Pollock, the chief author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill, is Professor of Public Health at Queen Mary, London University.
In response to the NHS Bill question, Heidi Alexander MP told the meeting:
“Accountability should be returned to the Secretary of State- it shouldn’t be fobbed off to NHS England
I’m meeting Allyson Pollock next week.
I think there is a limited role for the private sector in the NHS and I’m concerned about another big reorganisation.
The focus in this Parliament needs to be on challenging the government on funding and on the quality of Health and Social Care. Doctors have told me they are worried about the costs of a massive reorganisation.”
Heidi Alexander MP also reported that she and the shadow health team will talk to Jeremy Corbyn and the Parliamentary Labour Party about the NHS Reinstatement Bill.
On behalf of North Kirklees NHS Support Group, Christine Hyde said:
“The opportunities for fraud and corruption in the NHS are built into the structures set up by the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The hazards to public health that the 2012 Act created need to be spoken of by Directors of Public Health – who are now muzzled by the council.
It is time to reduce costs and the temptation of the profit motive; time to put patients before any other consideration, like junior doctors do every day; time for the NHS Reinstatement Bill.”
Patricia Foley for Dewsbury KONP commented,
”This downgrade to Dewsbury District Hospital doesn’t stand up clinically, whilst socially it’s a disaster – how can a higher volume of services centralised in one place improve health outcomes ?”
The next joint campaign meeting of the two local groups will be