Minutes of DWHC Planning Meeting 23rd May 2011

1. Present

Tony Baker, Steve Cook, Angie Dobson, Dave Emmett, Time Christine Florey, Shirley Franklin, Mick Gilgunn, Katy Gold, Dan Hurlbut, Jem Lindon, Paula Meale, Molly (UKUncut), Jan Pollock, Pam Sinkin, Angela Sinclair-Loutit, Lincia Tuitt

2. Apologies

Ian Shacklock, Jeremy Corbyn

3. Mins of last Meeting

(7th March). Six people attended meeting. Discussed recent events, merging of PCT’s into NCL and rebranding of the Whittington hospital, cuts in mental health services and future events.

4. General Update

  • Feedback from public meeting 17th May. General feeling that meeting was a success and messages to come out of it were positive, with substantial funds raised (over £400).
  • Save Our NHS London-wide demo, 17th May, marched from UCH to the Department of Health, Whitehall.  Successful demo, some impressions that more than the reported 2.5 thousand took part. SF commented that it left us with questions of how we can engage much larger numbers of the public to be actively involved in the campaign to save our NHS.
  • The issue of lack of union visibility and organisation within the Whittington hospital was discussed. Paula stated that she had been canvassing opinions of activists within the hospital of why they weren’t actively involved, and was receiving feedback that many were near retirement and wanting to keep a low profile, for fear of threatening pension arrangements. Further general discussion needed of how to mobilise union action from reps within the hospital.
  • TB raised discussion of how to engage Haringey MP Lynne Featherstone, as very evasive on national issue of Health and Social Care Bill, but is accountable to constituents on how Bill will impact locally. PM stated that the Whittington claims its 20 million of savings are half those of other hospitals such as North Middx.
  • JL reported that during a Saturday stall at Nags Head a Whittington admin employee reported three ward closures and Bank staff redundancies, including Diabetic and Rheumatology wards, and discussed witnessing a complete reorganisation of the hospital. She also stated that the new
  • Chief Executive of the hospital is well known for her harsh approach to cutting services in her previous post of chief executive of NHS Hillingdon.
  • PM said she is not aware within the hospital of any wards closing due to cuts.
  • SF stated that ‘Whittington Health’ has replaced PCT’s, and the unions were concerned that jobs will be placed at risk as a result. SF reported a 6.9% cut at the hospital, but no information on job losses, also underlined the ongoing difficulties of obtaining accurate information due to the lack of openness of union reps within the Whittington.
  • DE suggested there is a 6.9% reduction by sector, in cash terms, information he obtained from his involvement with Islington LINK (Local Involvement Network), which has a statutory right to demand information via the Freedom of Information Act.  SF invited DE to report to DWHC any information eg of the Board of Governors at the hospital, and send to DWHC email address for collation. SF noted that the governors are not allowed to speak about the decision on the board to anyone, and this needs to be challenged.

  • TB emphasised the importance of ensuring any information is properly sourced and accurate.
  • MG questioned the ongoing lack of consultation and transparency of the unions at the Whittington. It was suggested that DWHC invite union reps from the Whittington to a separate meeting of core DWHC members, to try to open up communication and establish a way forward.
  • ACTION: DE to formally report information to DWHC for collation, via the email address.
  • ACTION: DWHC to invite union reps from Whittington to separate meeting of core members.
  • MG stated that John Lister, of ‘Health Emergency’, speaking recently at a conference in Birmingham, cited the general lack of consultation and dialogue with the unions. SF encouraged people to check out the Health Emergency website run by John Lister. It was agreed to invite John Lister to speak at a future DWHC meeting. Other NHS campaign groups were also mentioned, Keep Our NHS Public, Health workers campaign, 39 Degrees and NHS Direct Action.
  • ACTION: DWHC to invite John Lister to speak at a future meeting.
  • SF stated that Dr Koh, new Chief Executive at the Whittington, is applying for foundation status, resulting in the hospital becoming an enterprise, less secure and wide open to privatisation. North Central London drew up a list of ‘low priority treatments’ last year due to cuts, of 35 treatments which will no longer go ahead or only when patients meets certain criteria, and included hip and varicose vein operations, hysterectomies and tonsillectomies.
  • JL stated that the Tribune quoted Dr Koh, new Whittington chief executive, in an interview, that people will have to pay for ‘non-essential’ treatments. DE stated that GP’s can advocate to the PCT for patient’s treatment, to an ‘exceptional treatment panel’, but if GP thinks it is not ‘essential’ then we will have to pay. Agreed that DWHC’s position is to Kill the Bill, not to tweak it.
  • MG raised issue of building contractors initiating inflated prices under PFI, reaping profits for building projects, and that this needs challenging as there is no accountability of large companies. MG agreed to send a link to UK Uncut via email.
  • ACTION: MG to send link re: building contractors profiteering to UK Uncut via email.
  • AD discussed her experiences as a service user with SHAD, Support and Housing Assistance for People with Disabilities, and concerns of the risk the cuts in services pose to her 24 hr care package, which allows her to maintain independent living, and reported that the council are aiming to increase the use of volunteers and not paid workers, placing funding of her 24 care package at risk. AD is working with Duncan Angus at Disability Action, Islington, and with Scope. LT reported has a good contact at the Ham&High paper.
  • The future of Chase Farm Hospital remains unclear.
  • SF reported that DWHC have not been invited to speak at the Islington Labour’s ‘Defend Our NHS’ meeting on 18th June. MG confirmed he will send an email to Catherine West requesting DWHC are invited to be one of the speakers.
  • ACTION: MG to send email to CW requesting speaker invite to Labour NHS meeting 18th June.

5. Mental Health

  • SF gave update on cuts to local mental health services. Cuts in mental health services are wholly disproportionate, against those least able to fightback. In Islington mental health services are run by a foundation trust and separately funded. SF reported that Highgate Mental Health Centre use high numbers of Bank staff, reducing continuity and quality of care. SF noted a campaign from the Highgate centre with a large banner on the TUC march, but has not been able to locate them since.
  • St Lukes, a mental health hospital since its opening in 1930, is being sold. SF handed around a proposal document of the sale of the ‘estate’. 40% of community mental health teams in Camden and Islington are being cut, and the service is being split into psychosis and non-psychosis, with proposals for service users to receive treatment in groups in place of individual treatment.
  • The Trust claims m/h day centres are under-used, yet there are not enough. Islington’s mental health service user group, iBUG, is financed by Islington council and therefore not an independent user organisation. SF reported that they have stated that the closure of mental health hospital beds in Islington is a good thing as users don’t want to be in hospital, which reflects the council’s argument of trying to justifiy the closures of mental health units. The effects of the cuts will result in service users being at risk of having a psychosis in the community without available support, as happened following the introduction of the Community Care Act in the early 1990’s. DWHC has good links with Islington Tribune reporter Tom Foot.
  • JP reported that a subgroup of Haringey Alliance for Public Services is campaigning against the Health and Social Care Bill, and reported that at a recent meeting at Chestnuts Community Centre opposite St Ann’s Hospital, a RCN member stated that the RCN may need to strike.
  • LT, Camden and Islington Black Users Forum, reported that Lambo, African-Caribbean mental health day centre in Islington, was forced to close and has been taken over by MIND. LT reported a lack of availability of therapeutic options within mental health services, and highlighted the disproportional number of Black and Minority Ethnic members of the community who are sectioned and placed on high levels of medication, and the importance of this being addressed in any campaigning work. LT cited the positive co-relation between cultural dissonance and mental health diagnosis in BME members of the community, and the additional stigma, stereotyping and fear BME mental health users face. LT expressed her aims of representing a voice for service users. SF suggested LT may be interested in representing this via an interview that can be exported onto the DWHC website, to increase awareness and visibility of these issues.
  • 6. Finances

  • No Treasurers Report available at meeting, currently approx. £498 in DWHC account, however publicity costs still to be paid out from this figure.
  • SF stated very little funds going into DWHC account at present. Need to find ways to access money from the unions. Need to formerly thank Islington Labour Party for donation of £100 cheque at Public Meeting 17th May.
  • Treasurer Katy Gold to write letter of thanks to Islington Labour Party for cheque donation to DWHC campaign.
  • 7. Future Events

    • Molly, Uk Uncut, described national plans for NHS Day of Action, connecting the lack of NHS funding in with NHS money lost via the banks, and described plans to transform banks into hospitals, encouraging people to check the website (www.ukuncut.org.uk), get involved and take part. Molly also discussed idea of finding alternative ways to challenge the cuts and gain public attention, eg described a large projector she has which could be used to project text messages, sent by the general public, staff etc, onto the Whittington hospital, with a street party and invitation to media. Slogans suggested were ‘Turn Again Lansley’, in reference to legendary Whittington cat.
    • ACTION: To further discuss actions at meeting next week 30th May.
    • Meeting 30 May, 7pm, Good Intent, to plan actions.
    • Next Planning Meeting 6th June, 7pm, Whittington Community Centre.

    8. AOB

    • MG announced next meeting of IHOOPS, Islington anti-cuts group, Tuesday 31st May, Islington Town Hall, 7pm .
    • London Met has announced a 70% cut in course provision and 300 redundancies of lecturing staff, a protest is to be held outside the Rocket, Student Union building on Tuesday 24th May, 7pm.
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