Sell-off defeated, but fight to defend the NHS goes on…
Our victory in 2013-2014 against the threat of ward closures and job cuts showed what could be achieved when local people – residents, patients, hospital staff, trade unions, politicians and a number of concerned local celebs – came out to defend our hospital.
We were told that plans for huge cutbacks in services would be scrapped and a new strategy put in place to guarantee our hospital’s future. But big savings are likely to be needed as the new government imposes further austerity on our public services – including the NHS.
Despite what it says about protecting health service funding, hospitals are likely to face savage cuts – while privatisation is an increasing threat as large parts of the NHS, including hospital and community services such as district nursing and mental health, are packaged up and sold off to private companies who will cut care provision and jobs in a bid to boost profits.
Join our campaign to keep our local hospital and oppose these threats before it is too late.
For more details about the progress of the campaign, and a list of future actions, visit the “Meetings and events” section of the website.
Full media coverage here
Junior doctors on the picket line outside the Whittington on the first day of the strike. They were joined by members of DWHC and Keep Our NHS Public. Popular support for the strike remained strong
Why DWHC is backing junior doctors strike
Strikes by junior doctors against the government’s plan to cut their pay and conditions are to go ahead after conciliation talks broke down.
The strikes, organised by the “doctors’ trade union” the British Medical Association, are supported by DWHC because we believe junior doctors are right when they say the government is trying to impose a cut in pay and longer working hours, which will affect patient safety.
The strikes will only affect non-urgent care. The doctors have pledged to work normally in accident and emergency and the maternity department, so urgent care will not be disrupted and emergencies will be covered as usual.
Junior doctors already work long hours – but the contract the government wants to impose will remove safeguards introduced in the 1990s. This is the main sticking point – not pay, although cuts in allowances would result in a smaller overall wage packet.
“We fully support the doctors’ action,” said DWHC chair Shirley Franklin. “The government is trying to deny that their proposals would worsen junior doctors’ pay and conditions. But that’s not what the junior doctors have been telling us – and we believe them.
“We think the doctors are right when they say they would be forced to work longer hours. We don’t want them working until they drop – that’s not safe for them and it’s not safe for patients.
“They are not being greedy. They haven’t asked for a pay rise – just that they shouldn’t have a pay cut. The government should find the money to give them what they want.”
The first of the stoppages will be from 8am on Tuesday 12 January to 8am on Wednesday. The BMA will be picketing the Whittington’s Highgate Hill entrance – and DWHC will be joining them on the picket line.
If the talks remain deadlocked there will be another 48 hour stoppage starting at 8am on Tuesday 26 January – but emergencies will again be covered.
A third strike planned for Wednesday 10 February would see a complete walk-out from 8am to 5pm and would also include A&E.
Lest we forget…
These, the founding principles of the NHS, are a reminder of what we are fighting for… and what is under threat as the government renews its attacks on our health services.
DWHC joins NHS protest in Manchester
Thousands of NHS campaigners – including a contingent from DWHC – converged on Manchester on Sunday 4 October for the protest at the Tory party conference.
Up to 100,000 people joined the march, called by the TUC to demonstrate against the government’s austerity policies and the attacks on union rights and the NHS.
The march had the backing of the People’s Assembly. Rights groups said cuts in benefits have targeted the most vulnerable – including children, the elderly, the disabled, the sick and the mentally ill, as well as the unemployed and low paid – while the government has given millionaires a handout through tax cuts that will vastly increase their wealth.
NHS unions were angry that staff are being laid off or having to work longer hours for less pay. With rising costs, the government’s five-year freeze in NHS funding means further severe reductions will have to be made, which could see hospitals, A&Es and GPs surgeries plunged into a deepening crisis this winter.
Two-thirds of hospitals are already facing deficits averaging £22 million. The overall NHS deficit is expected to reach £2 billion this year.
Thousands of junior doctors also joined the protest to signal their anger at the new contracts health secretary Jeremy Hunt is trying to force through. The doctors leaders say pay cuts and longer hours will result, and that patients could be put at risk if hours are lengthened further.
Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary, in a speech to the rally at the end of the march showed the government was facing opposition. He said the protest was “sending a very clear message” to the government that a fightback was under way.
The DWHC contingent lining up with the banner at the start of march past the Tory party conference in Manchester on October 4
No to privatisation of out of hours service
The procurement of a new £50 million out of hours contract covering all five North Central London clinical commissioning groups – Camden, Islington, Haringey, Barnet and Enfield – has been put on hold until April while the CCGs hold “public engagement” meetings to try to win over opposition.
How well the OOH service is run – if it is also combined with the 111 emergency phoneline, which is another part of the plan – will have a big impact on the number of people turning up at A&E. We want the service to be run by local doctors, not by a big private medical company. That’s why we are saying the “public engagement” exercise is not enough and why we are calling for proper public consultation so that the view of most people that the new service should not be privatised is taken into account.
People’s Inquiry warns of danger to London hospitals
The People’s Inquiry into London’s NHS completed its information-gathering stage at Lewisham Hospital, having held seven public hearings in different parts of London, and received evidence from around 100 people, including DWHC.
The six-person panel, which included Roy Lilley and the Guardian’s Polly Toynbee, has now published its report, which makes grim reading for defenders of London hospitals under threat of closures.
But the authors of the report say there are ways out of this mess. Their aim in highlighting the current crisis is to open up debate and discussion on NHS policy in the run-up to the next general election, and pin the blame firmly on the government.
The outcome of that election could decide whether our health service survives. London NHS services ‘unravelling’ – BBC News
Read the panel’s recommendations here