Monday, 30 May 2016

May newsletter


Yet again the NHS is being subjected to a drastic top-down reorganisation, this time without parliamentary approval, local consultation or media scrutiny. The NHS is being carved up, behind our backs, into 44 ‘footprints’ across England. By the end of June this year, each ‘footprint’ is required to submit a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) to NHS England. What these plans are about are more cuts and more privatisation.

The footprint for NW London covers the 8 boroughs which formed 'Shaping a Healthier Future'. It is clear that SaHF is the basis for local proposals – but they are worse than anything we have seen up to now. As the Evening Standard discovered, what is planned for our part of London is at least the loss of 500 acute hospital beds – far more than in the original SaHF.

But these plans are all about austerity – not about improving health services for all of us. A key element of the STPs is that the NHS is to save £22bn by 2020 – rather more than the measly £8bn extra funding promised! And each ‘footprint’ has to meet impossible targets to get any of the ‘extra’ funding. The only way this can be done is by closing hospitals, closing A&Es, sacking staff, rationing treatment and, possibly at a later time, charging for some services.

While the government seems determined to slash spending on our NHS, we know that the actual percentage of GDP spent on health in the UK is to be cut. Currently this is 8.5% with plans to reduce this to 6.8% by 2020. This compares with France’s 10.9%, Germany’s 11.0% and the Netherlands' 11.1% - and even more starkly with the more than 16% in the United States (figures from the Kings Fund, Jan 2016)

Save Our Hospitals is committed to working with other campaigners to oppose these plans, just as we have opposed SaHF over the past 4 years. We are also demanding that there is full consultation before STPs are introduced.
While NHS bureaucrats continue to pretend that it's possible to close 500 acute hospital beds (including 300 at Charing Cross) in NW London with no ill effects, evidence that this is dangerous mounts. We were told that the closures of Hammersmith & Central Middlesex A&E departments last year would not overload A&Es at Charing Cross and St Mary's. In fact there has been a notable deterioration in waiting times at both hospitals, and at Northwick Park, and in March 2016 A&E waiting times at Charing Cross and St Mary’s were amongst the worst in England - with more than 30% of the sickest people waiting more than 4 hours to be treated.

We await the details of the proposed agreement on the junior doctors’ contract – these have not yet been fully published. The result of the doctors’ ballot will not be known until early July. Whatever the outcome, junior doctors have fought a magnificent battle both for their own work conditions and for all NHS staff. Central to their fight is the evidence that the imposed contract was not fair to doctors and not safe for patients. Those of us on the picket lines with the junior doctors were not surprised at the overwhelming support of the public on each of the strike days.

BURSARY OR BUST As Unite the Union has pointed out: ‘The Tories plan to cut student nurses' bursaries and replace them with loans. After August 2017 nursing courses will be fee paying, leaving students with more than £50,000 of debt if they undertake a three year degree course. Saddling students with a lifetime of debt – which most of them will never be able to pay off – will massively deter those wanting to enter nursing and the other health professions covered by the bursary. It will affect people studying a range of professions including nursing, speech and language therapy, radiology, occupational therapy, mental health nursing and midwifery.’

Join Save Our Hospitals at the 'Bursary or Bust' demonstration on Saturday 4th June, at 1.00pm, outside St Thomas’s Hospital opposite Westminster. We’ll have our banner with us!


SOH AGM     Wednesday 8th June 7.30pm at Hammersmith Town Hall (probably Committee Room 4). We are hoping to have a junior doctor with us. ALL WELCOME.

STALLS        We hold a regular stall in the Borough when we distribute information, collect signatures on petitions and listen to what local people have to say about our health services. PLEASE COME AND JOIN US AT ONE OF OUR STALLS – EXTRA HELP ALWAYS WELCOME AND WE DO LIKE TO MEET OUR SUPPORTERS
Saturday 28th May 11.00-14.00 North End Road, Fulham (near Lillie Rd)
Saturday 11th June 14.00-16.00 Lyric Square, Hammersmith
Saturday 18th June 14.00-16.00 Shepherds Bush Market (Uxbridge Rd)
Saturday 25th June 14.00-16.00 Fulham Broadway, near St John’s Church
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