Friday, February 22, 2013

SAVE THE NHS! (and Lewisham Hospital!)

UPDATE 25 FEBRUARY: 38 Degrees have launched a new campaign that has overlapped the petition begun last Thursday (which we posted about then and which had already reached nearly 13,000 signatures in three days). Even if you signed the other petition, please sign again on the new one HERE! (Please sign both!)

UPDATE 26 FEBRUARY: Act NOW to stop Section 75! Save Lewisham Hospital have now put up a page about the story below, and have very helpfully provided two letters you can email to Parliament.

For some reason, most of the mainstream media (especially the BBC) appears to be ignoring all the government's sneaky back door attempts to privatise health, education, the fire service and anything else they can get their hands on. So you may not know about this...

Last week, the government brought out a legal document that sets out the Regulations to be applied to the Health & Social Care Act (which was passed last year). Hidden away in the jargon, and easily missed by many, is Section 75 in which Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are obliged to put out to tender almost every NHS service – to any penny-scrimping profit-making bidder.

The new regulations grant the 'regulator' (Monitor) sweeping statutory powers to intervene and enforce competition. Monitor will be able to decide when CCGs have breached competition regulations, and have the authority to stop arrangements that they deem flawed and to impose competitive tendering and the offer of 'Any Qualified Provider' (step in, Virgin etc).

As Polly Toynbee writes in The Guardian today, "At first patients may not notice who profits from their services, as private companies hide under the NHS logo. But the change will be irreversible when NHS services atrophy once contracts are let out."

Much of the tax you pay towards the NHS will go into the coffers of private company share holders, and we'll be bailing them out like the banks. The government have lied and misled everyone, and this secondary legislation is the final nail in the coffin for the NHS.

More reading:

Media coverage:
Update 25 February: Tories' hidden privatisation plan revealed
Update 26 February: NHS competition rules must be reviewed
Lib Dem pressure forces Jeremy Hunt to rewrite NHS provider regulations
Update 27 February: Is a new NHS reforms row brewing? Finally the BBC report the story we covered six days ago, but it's hidden away in the Health section of the news webpages:
Update 1 March: Doctors' concern over NHS contracts being put up for sale 
Update  3 March: With a broken promise, the government has handed the NHS over to the market
As NHS services are privatised, no one thought to write listening to patients into the contract
BBC News at Ten finally reports NHS privatisation with government bias, and story hidden away again on Health pages of website

Update 5 March:
NHS private sector climbdown a 'humiliating U-turn', says Labour Lib Dem health minister Norman Lamb announces rewrite of key competition regulations 'to remove any doubt' over privatisation fears
On BBC Radio 4's Inside Health, Lord Howe promises a re-write of NHS regulations "within a few days".
After thousands sign the 38 Degrees petition and over a thousand doctors write to the Daily Telegraph over the weekend, BBC News Health section (still not the main page) reports: NHS competition rules to be changed

Update 12 March: Government drops controversial clause from NHS competition rules 
Amend in haste, repent at leisure – NHS section 75 saga continues

Events and other news:

Boris Johnson will be at Broadway Theatre, Catford on Thursday 7th March (6pm for 7pm–9pm), for People's Question Time, which is organised twice yearly by the Mayor and London Assembly. You can apply for FREE tickets (maximum of two). Read more on the Save Lewisham Hospital website, or apply directly for tickets here. 

FILM NIGHT and discussion on the fight to Save Lewisham A&E – 4th March A screening of "Running Out of Patients", a documentary on the 1987 Victoria Nurses' Strike, followed by discussion on how ideas raised in the film (direct action) might be employed to save the NHS.
Monday 4th March, 7-10pm at Utrophia 
(opposite Deptford station) Deptford High Street
(£2 contributions)
Facebook event page

BORN IN LEWISHAM - Saturday 16th March (time to be announced)
If you, your children, your sister of brother, your boyfriend or anyone you know was born in Lewisham Hospital – or if you just want to show your support – come along and join hands around the hospital.
More info on Save Lewisham Hospital website
Or join the Facebook page

Update 25 Feb: Lewisham Council legal action decision delayed...see News Shopper story.
Update 27 Feb: Council approves Mayor's legal action. Please donate to public fund

POP-UP AGAINST PFI – Friday 1st March 12noon St Paul's Cathedral
Direct Action...targeting the companies which profit from extortionate debts put on our NHS, including the South London Healthcare Trust.
See  and Save Lewisham Hospital

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