Jenny Shepherd spoke about the Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign at the Morning Star benefit at Hebden Bridge Trades Club today. Here is her report.
Thanks to Pete Lazenby and John Mooney for asking me to talk about the Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign at today’s Hebden Bridge Trades Club benefit for the Morning Star.
Other members of the Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign have highlighted key moments in the campaign in 2014.
Katherine Horner, who with her mum Margaret organised the Halifax to Wakefield Walk for the NHS last summer, said,
“The most exciting time for me in the hospital campaign has to be walk for the NHS leaving Halifax and finishing in Wakefield and joining up with the Darlo mums in Wakefield.
I hope we throw a spanner in the works every step of the way from now till May and continue to fight against the privatisation of the NHS.”
Mick Coughlan said,
“One of the main things that have stood out for me has been the overwhelming public support.
From that expressed from motorists and passers by whilst taking part in the 2 protest marches into and then out of Halifax, to that expressed whilst standing on a freezing cold picket line. Of these I remember an Asian guy with his window wound down stopped at the traffic lights giving us all the thumbs up. I also remember a lady in the very early morning walking up from the bus shelter to the picket to express her support.
So for 2015 I hope for more of this support and also for the real story of what is happening to and in our NHS to be made more widely known – we certainly cannot depend on the BBC or the Tory press to tell people can we?”
So thanks to Morning Star reporter Pete Lazenby, Morning Star support group member John Mooney and Hebden Bridge Trades Club for the chance to tell the real story of what’s happening in and to our NHS.
This is what I said:
Thank you for asking me, as someone who’s part of the campaign to Save Calderdale Royal Hospital, to come and update you on what’s going on in the campaign.
The NHS is being rapidly dismantled – and to outline the whole picture of how the process is playing out in Calderdale and the rest of Yorkshire would take longer than 10 minutes.
And I’ve timed what I’m going to say and in fact it takes 12 minutes. I hope this is ok.
So I’m just going to talk about the Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign as it is now, in a kind of snapshot, and how you can get involved, if you’re not already.
There are various things you can do to help the campaign to achieve its goals, and these will come up as I talk through the campaign.
Specifically, I’m going to talk about:
- Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign’s focus
- a bit of background about the government policy of NHS cuts and sell offs
- what the Save CRH campaign wants to achieve
- how we’re going to achieve it
The campaign’s focus
Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign focusses on the so-called “Right Care Right Place Right Time” shake up of the NHS and social care in Calderdale and Huddersfield.
Calderdale Trades Council has supported the campaign with funding for leaflets, which you are welcome to take away with you.
Bit of background to NHS cuts and sell offs
The “Right Care” shake up – or as the NHS bosses like to call it, the “Transformation of health and social care in Calderdale & Huddersfield” – is all about NHS funding cuts and privatisation.
It aims to cut costly acute and emergency hospital services and replace them by cheaper care in the community that is designed to keep people with chronic illnesses out of hospital.
This is despite the fact that there’s no real evidence that this works.
And in other areas where this has already been carried out, it has led to £billions of NHS services being put out to private tender and the contracts won by private healthcare companies.
When pushed, Calderdale NHS Commissioners have said they are indifferent about who will provide the new community health care services – whether this is private companies or NHS organisations. And they are strongly in favour of “soft privatisation” – commissioning third sector and voluntary organisations to deliver the community health care services.
Probably by now almost everyone knows about the proposed hospital cuts. It’s most likely that they will:
- close Calderdale’s A&E department and its acute services which are complex maternity and acute paediatric care,
- turn Calderdale Royal Hospital into a minor injuries unit and a small, planned care clinic using only 85 of its 450 beds, – while, according to the hospital Trust’s Outline Business Case, the rest of the hospital would be probably handed over to private companies to operate as a care home and hospice
- send all acute and emergency patients to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, while cutting at least 100 acute beds there and admitting fewer A&E patients
- set up 4 minor injuries units – including one in Tod- and a system of care in the community that is based on an American private health insurance company system of healthcare.
These proposals are driven by NHS England’s response to the Coalition government policy of NHS cuts and privatisation, as written into law in the 2012 Health and Social Care Act.
NHS England is a new commissioning quango created by that 2012 law. It is not what we think of when we think of the NHS.
The 2012 Act abolished the NHS as a comprehensive, universal health service which the government has a duty to provide. So we can no longer be sure that our hospitals and NHS commissioners will provide health care for all of us.
For example, NHS Foundation Trust hospitals used to have to provide certain “mandatory” services, but since the HSCA 2012, the mandatory services are now only “commissioner-requested” services that the Trust is licensed to provide by Monitor, which is kind of like Ofgem for the NHS – it regulates and enforces competition in the NHS “market”.
These commissioner-requested services have to be provided up to April 2016.
But between now and then, NHS commissioners have been told by Monitor to identify services that would need maintaining if a foundation trust was unable to pay its debts.
The effect will be to reduce NHS-funded care to a basic package of services equivalent to those that must be provided in the event of foundation trust failure.
I asked Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group what services they would need our hospitals Trust to provide if it becomes unable to pay its debts, which is predicted to happen at the end of this financial year. They told me they are working on this.
So that’s a bit of background to the policy climate of NHS cuts and sell offs.
What are the Save CRH campaign aims?
Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign has 4 main goals. It intends to:
- prevent damage to Calderdale and Huddersfield’s health services by the “Right Care” NHS shake up
- prevent A&E and ward closures
- make sure decisions about the NHS shake up are taken democratically, on the basis of clear, full and honest information, with Calderdale Councillors fulfilling their duties to the public to manage local NHS reconfigurations
- bring about a renegotiation of the Calderdale Royal Hospital PFI contract, in order to reduce its burden on Calderdale NHS finances – currently it consumes 10% of the yearly NHS budget for Calderdale.
How we’re going to achieve these goals
We’re going to achieve these goals by three main ways:
- one is public pressure on the local authorities that have the power & the duty to manage local NHS reconfigurations
- the second is by investigating a possible legal challenge to the Clinical Commissioning Groups’ “Right Care Right Place Right Time” proposals
- the third is by supporting the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015
In terms of bringing public pressure to bear on the Calderdale & Kirklees Joint Health Scrutiny Committee, and on Calderdale Council Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel, we’re demanding that they use their powers effectively on behalf of the public, as it is their duty and responsibility to do.
They have the power – and the duty to use this power – to ask the Secretary of State to stop the implementation of the Right Care Right Place Right Time proposals if they think that these plans will damage the NHS in Calderdale and Greater Huddersfield.
And the shake up is driven by an NHS cuts and privatisation agenda that will do just this – damage our local NHS.
And the Scrutiny Committees also have the power – and the duty – to tell the Clinical Commissioning Groups to consult the public now.
A bit of background about this: The Clinical Commissioning Groups initially planned to hold the legally-required formal public consultation on the hospitals Trust’s Outline Business Case plans for the NHS shake up in July-September last year.
But in early August, both Greater Huddersfield and Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Groups announced that they had decided to go ahead and set up the care in the community aspects of the proposed transformation without any public consultation.
And they also decided to postpone the formal public consultation on the proposed hospital cuts and closures and the split into a planned hospital and an acute/emergency hospital, until after they’d set up the community care system.
They did this despite being asked by the chair of Calderdale Council Adults Health and Social Care Scrutiny Panel not to make any decisions about significant changes to Calderdale NHS without formally consulting the public.
On the basis of legal advice, Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign believes the CCGs’ decision to ignore this request is probably unlawful.
The law on public consultation is that the CCG has to consult the public on all available options.
But clearly if they’ve set up the new community health care system before consultation takes place, this makes it inevitable that they will also go ahead with cuts to existing hospital services, because the Clinical Commissioning Group can’t afford to retain services in the hospitals when they are also funding them in the community.
And how can Calderdale Clinical Commissioning Group keep an open mind about what services should remain in hospitals, if it has already decided what services should be moved from the hospitals to the community?
Also, the new community care system is itself a significant change to the NHS – so that should also be included in the formal public consultation.
Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaigners are demanding that our Councillors use their powers effectively on behalf of the public, as it is their duty and responsibility to do.
The campaign will shortly be publishing emails to Calderdale and Kirklees Councillors, that everyone can use as templates for sending their own emails.
You’ll be able to find the emails via:
- Save Calderdale Royal Infirmary facebook group,
- Upper Calder Valley Plain Speaker’s Save Calderdale Royal Hospital thread,
- by emailing SaveCRH@gmail.com,
- via Calderdale 38 Degrees NHS Campaign google group or
- by asking @SaveCRH on twitter.
The next big public action Save Calderdale Royal Hospital is taking is a Valentine’s Day lovebomb of CRH. This is part of Call 999 For the NHS’s nationwide day of action to restore the NHS.
The campaign is doing this because we’ve found that to get media coverage we have to create some kind of public theatre event. And we want to keep getting out the message that we can and must stop the NHS cuts and sell offs that are going on under the guise of moving hospital care into the community.
Finally, Save Calderdale Royal Hospital campaign urges all members of the public to only vote for Parliamentary Candidates who commit to voting for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 in the new Parliament, if they are elected.
This Bill would:
- restore the Secretary of State’s duty to provide comprehensive, universal NHS services
- make sure that the NHS is a unified public service and end the ‘internal market’ and private sector involvement
Ending NHS marketisation and privatisation would save, at a conservative estimate, at least £4.5bn/year and free up this money for spending on patient care.
Craig Whittaker MP has said he doesn’t support the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015 and neither the LibDem, Labour or UKIP Candidates have said anything one way or another, as far as the Bill’s website shows.
So please contact all the Parliamentary candidates and say you’ll only vote for them if they commit to voting for the NHS Reinstatement Bill 2015, if elected as MP . You can do this by going to http://www.nhsbill2015.org and clicking on Take Action.