5 years on – time for Testimony 2 on the Destruction of the NHS

Thanks to people who responded to a recent call for information about hospital cuts and closures in your area since 2016 – the year that 16 campaign groups presented Testimony on the Destruction of the NHS to the-then Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander.

The 999 Call for the NHS campaign groups invite you to take part in Testimony 2

We hope your campaign group (or you as an individual if you’re not part of one) will email us a brief statement of how cuts and privatisation have affected people’s ability to access the full range of good quality NHS care in your area over the last 5 years.

And if your group took part in the Testimony presentation in 2016, it would be really useful if you could update on what’s happened since with the cuts and sell offs that were bothering you then.

We’ll be setting up a zoom action meeting soon for everyone who’s interested in taking part in Testimony 2

We see Testimony 2 as a way of mobilizing widespread opposition to the Dept of Health and Social Care’s NHS Integration and Innovation White Paper. Government spin would have us believe it’s going to undo the harms of the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.

The opposite is true. Unless we manage to stop it, or at least amend its worst features, the White Paper will entrench in the NHS the corrupt crony contracting processes that the government has normalised in its response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

It will lock in the 7 years of “Integrating Care” that NHS England kicked off with its 5 Year Forward View. These “new models” of “integrated care” are destroying the NHS as a comprehensive service for all, with equal access to treatment based on clinical need that is free at the point of access. They:

  • Cut, centralise and downgrade hospital services.
  • Risk-stratify patients according to their cost to the NHS.
  • Direct out-of-hospital services at the most costly patients in an attempt to cut A&E attendance and emergency hospital admissions, while shifting their care onto new, less-skilled and -qualified grades of Primary Care staff, voluntary sector organisations, family and friends and “self care”.
  • Restrict patients’ access to a whole range of planned care and medication through increased controls on GPs’ ability to prescribe and to refer patients for hospital treatments

We are struck by an apparent lack of official documentation of the effects of this on patients, family, friends and front line NHS staff. This is why we are inviting you to take part in Testimony 2.

As one of its chief promoters over the past quarter-century has openly admitted, Integrated Care is

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

(Chris Ham, May 1997, Journal of Managed Care).

Here’s what campaign groups have told us so far.

Sunderland: Closure of Urgent Care walk in services in the Primary Care Centres at Houghton, Washington and Bunnyhill.

In January 2019 Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body decided to remove Urgent Care Services ( ie walk-in services) at Houghton, Washington, Bunnyhill and Pallion Primary Care Centres to be replaced by one newly designated (same buildings) Urgent Treatment Centre at Pallion in Sunderland.

The Houghton, Washington and Bunnyhill Primary Care Centres still remain open and provide other services and are now also the locations for 3 of the 5 Sunderland Extended Access Service hubs which moved from their former GP surgery sites. Pallion Primary Care Centre is now the Pallion Urgent Treatment Centre.

All changes were initially planned to be in place by 1st April 2019 but the Clinical Commissioning Group delayed implementation until August 2019 because of concerns brought up at the consultation. They conceded in the short term that people could use the Sunderland Extended Access Service  (ie out of hours GP appointment), at Houghton and Washington for both minor illnesses and injuries up to 31st July 2019.

Houghton and Washington walk-in services were both axed at this time too but the urgent care services at Bunnyhill were allowed to continue until the newly reconfigured Pallion Urgent Treatment Centre came on line in December 2019. So 4 walk-in services became 1 urgent treatment centre.

The Health and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee considered referring the decisions to the Secretary of State but decided that there were insufficient grounds. They sought assurances from the Clinical Commissioning Group that concerns about travel and transport etc would be looked into and that regular updates would be given. Unfortunately since the advent of Covid-19 there have been no updates/ reports to the Committee on this,  with them concentrating on issues related specifically to the pandemic.

(Report from Laura Murrell, Secretary KONP Sunderland& District)

South Devon: Fighting proposed removal of all beds from Teignmouth Community Hospital 

Save Our Hospital Services Devon and the local campaign are currently fighting the removal of all beds and services from Teignmouth Community Hospital, which is likely to lead to the sale of its site.

Additional info from Hands Off Teignmouth Hospital facebook group:

“I have recently written to the Teignmouth Post/Mid Devon Advertiser regarding the plans for a new doctors ‘hub’ . From the outset, I support a new surgery and I believe we need up-to-date doctors’ facilities but not at the expense of the closure of our Hospital.

In my letter my complaint about the siting of the surgery alongside a Beefeater restaurant and 60 plus bed hotel, I pointed out that the hotel would have 20 parking spaces. Given that the new build surgery will have Doctors, Receptionists, Physios, Nurses, etc where on earth will they all park? – it will be chaos and a parking wardens dream! The surrounding car parks and 2hr slot will be taken up especially in the summer! The new surgery is in the wrong place – it will have a pharmacy attached as well – we have three! Please visit the Teignbridge Planning portal to see the plans – you can comment!

see the plans at 21/00299/MAJ”

South Devon: Closure of beds in Seaton, Honiton and Okehampton community hospitals in 2017

This generated strong opposition that forced the Clinical Commissioning Group to put its advertised plans for an estates strategy, involving closures of hospitals and sales of sites, on more or less indefinite hold. 

(Report from Devon County Councillor Martin Shaw)

South Devon: Seaton Physiotherapy Service

Since Seaton community hospital lost its beds about 3 years ago people have been working tirelessly to keep this community hospital at least there and running clinics and treatments.

It has been running services such as Physio there since. I have been referred twice for for physiotherapy for hip/back pain, in recent weeks. I have received letters that state that because of the Pandemic “there is no Physiotherapy in Seaton (Devon) hospital, you will not be offered an appointment; if you already have been given an appointment then to please consider it cancelled” Enclosed was a sheet suggesting various exercises.

The GP practice is in the building next door and I have now noticed that there is a private Physiotherapy service operating in a new wing recently built. I do not know whether the closure of the hospital Physio dept. is a permanent one or whether the service will be resumed after the pandemic work is over- (they are doing vaccinations there at present) so will have to wait and see.  But that leaves me and others with no physio or to pay to go privately.

South Devon: £70 plus travel from Seaton to Honiton for ear syringing

The other change is that it seems that ears cannot be syringed at the GP any more; a gentleman I know in his 80s had to travel to Honiton, he has no transport of his own. He had to pay in the £70 region to have his ears done. Again I do not know if this is a permanent situation. I fear that it might be.

 (Reports by Seaton resident)

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