How Come We Didn’t Know? Nationally Acclaimed Photo Exhibition on NHS Privatisation comes to Halifax

A nationally acclaimed touring photographic exhibition that chronicles the corporate takeover of the NHS by private healthcare companies, investment firms, hedge fund organisations and big business is now open to the public at King Cross Library Halifax 151 Haugh Shaw Road HX1 3BG. It runs until 31st July. You can find the library opening hours here .

From 1st August it will be at Halifax Central Library, Square Road HX1 1QG. Central Library opening hours are here.

The exhibition, “How Come We Didn’t Know?”, is sponsored by Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS – a very active group that’s campaigned tenaciously for the last 5 years to keep two District General Hospitals in Calderdale and Kirklees, each with a full 24/7, blue light A&E. This fight goes on!

Rosemary Hedges, the Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS member who has brought the exhibition to Calderdale, said,

“The exhibition is a heartbreaking, shocking call to defend our NHS before it’s too late. It is a must-see for the public and it explains so much of what is behind the current concerns and fears for the NHS in Calderdale and Kirklees.”.

In 21 posters, the exhibition documents how NHS and social care provision is changing from a public service to a corporate financial asset. For example, sensitive services such as children’s social work have been handed over to ruthless private companies intent on profit stripping for their shareholders.

“How Come We Didn’t Know?” records how this process has been hidden from the public by continued use of the NHS logo to protect private providers.

Each poster reveals change in different areas – such as the cost of the NHS internal market and contracting, the impact of PFI contracts (Private Finance Initiatives), and the sell off of publicly owned hospital land and estate to fund services.

Recent additions to the original 2014 exhibition show how corporations structure their ‘investment ‘ in the NHS so that health services are not only being privatised but becoming part of the process of financialisation (which is basically prioritising quantitative issues of debt and investment over clinicians’ and patients’ qualitative judgements about what treatments are appropriate).

Unfortunately one of the exhibition’s calls to action comes too late for Calderdale in particular and West Yorkshire in general.

Under the heading “Ways to fight the corporate takeover of our NHS”, the exhibition urges:

In response to our call to oppose the development of the Calderdale Integrated Care Alliance, set up this year as a forerunner to a Calderdale Integrated Care Provider, Hebden Royd Town Council has agreed to hold a public meeting to discuss problems Hebden Royd patients are having in getting appointments to see their GP.

This problem as arisen as local practices are grouped together into Primary Care Networks to deliver out of hospital services to populations of around 30k-50k.

Although Hebden Royd Town Council recognises a problem exists, Calderdale Council is completely gung ho about so-called Integrated Care – acknowledged by one of its main proponents to be:

“Alternative terminology for market-focussed imports from the USA.”

Chris Ham, 1997

Calderdale Council has actively promoted the formation of the cost-cutting, NHS-shrinking West Yorkshire and Harrogate Integrated Care System – aka West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership. (Previously known as West Yorkshire and Harrogate Sustainability and Transformation Plan.) Its Board is chaired by the Calderdale Council Leader, Cllr Tim Swift.

And for years, Calderdale Council has been working hand in glove with Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group on the cuts- driven Calderdale Sustainability and Transformation Plan, with the ultimate aim of handing over a whole slew of NHS, public health and social care services in Calderdale to an Integrated Care Provider. CK999 has consistently resisted this.

The original stimulus for the exhibition, created by Marion Macalpine, an NHS campaigner and member of Hackney Keep Our NHS Public, was the 2012 Health and Social Care Act that the-then Health Secretary Andrew Lansley pushed through Parliament against great public resistance.

The Act had no democratic mandate, since it was not in any political party’s 2010 General Election Manifesto, but it effectively ended the NHS as a universal, comprehensive health service that the government had a duty to provide and promote.

It required contracts for NHS services to be tendered on the open market, resulting in a hugely destructive wave of privatisation and fragmentation of services.

It also was key to laying the foundations for Integrated Care Systems, Alliances and Providers, as it set up Health and Wellbeing Boards to bring together NHS organisations and Local Authority services. It placed a duty on Boards to consider the partnership arrangements under the 2006 NHS Act (such as pooled budgets) when developing their strategy.

Without this, the current dismantling of the NHS into 44 Integrated Care Systems/Providers would not have been possible.

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