1 Feb 2012

Stop the privatisation of our NHS

View over Stoud
Last month I covered the press release from the Stroud Against the Cuts regarding the legal case - see here - well below is the info in the latest leaflet which has been going out in towns across Gloucerstershire. The leaflet is in preparation for the upcoming legal case regarding the future of many of Gloucestershire's health services. For background info you can see my editing of a film of the talk by Prof Wendy Savage here and the bit with solicitor Kate Kaye here saying why we need to act.

Gloucestershire’s health services - nine community hospitals, ten health clinics, and other county-wide services - have been scheduled for transfer out of the NHS. Social Enterprise Trust (SET) or Community Interest Companies like Gloucestershire Care Services CIC (GCS-CIC), which has been proposed to take over the services, are not an alternative to the break up and privatisation of the NHS - they are part of that process. A legal case in Gloucestershire, supported by local anti-cuts groups challenges the claim of management that there was no alternative to social enterprise. It puts the option of keeping staff and services in the NHS back on the table, if management want to consider it. Elsewhere campaigns have successfully defended NHS services. The legal case can buy time for us to campaign together against social enterprise, but even if successful our NHS will be under sustained attack. The proposed Health & Social Care Bill removes all barriers to privatisation of the NHS. Say no to an American-style market-based health system.

We must fight to Keep Our NHS Public

Cheltenham Against Cuts & Gloucester Against Cuts:
cheltenhamagainstcuts@gmail.com • Tel: 07771162308
Forest Against The Cuts:
Tel: Diana Gash 01594 839441 or Pete Stanway 01452 760235
Stroud Against the Cuts: www.stroudagainstcuts.co.uk
contact@stroudagainstcuts.co.uk • Tel: Chris Moore 07810732379

Social Enterprise Myth & Reality

Myth: GCS-CIC is not about privatisation, it is a non-profit organisation.

Reality: GCS-CIC will be a private limited company, run as a business and will have to make a surplus. After 3 years (possibly 5 years) or sooner the private sector can compete for contracts. In Hull private companies stepped in months after the SET contract was signed. Award-winning SET Central Surrey Health lost out on a £500 million contract to a Virgin owned company, in it’s first bid against the private sector.

Myth: GCS-CIC will continue the NHS ethos and be free at the point of delivery. 

Reality: Staff and services will leave the NHS, services will be more fragmented and a national service undermined. GCS-CIC will have to survive in an increasingly competitive environment. Services will not be judged on the basis of need and quality but whether they will be successful in the market, before being opened to the private sector. A two-tier private/public system will grow.

Myth: NHS terms and conditions will be preserved for staff.

Reality: Protection under the TUPE (transfer of pay and conditions) system is much weaker than staying in the NHS. Unison has obtained a Department of Health letter confirming SET staff will be given new contracts that will be hard to protect. Cornwall Council broke promises to transferred NHS staff on pay and pensions.

Myth: GCS-CIC will be democratic and accountable to staff and the local community.

Reality: Decisions about the awarding of multi-million pound contracts will probably be made behind closed doors. Staff and public have never been asked if they want to transfer to GCS-CIC. The board of GCS-CIC will have 5 members from a list proposed by GCS-CIC. Staff will each have one 1p share, but there are questions about who will hold the majority and what right will staff have
to vote on a takeover.

Myth: If successful it will lead to the immediate privatisation of services.

Reality: If successful, NHS Gloucestershire management would have a choice between two options: either to tender services or keep them in the NHS. They can legally keep the services in the NHS and do not have to open services up to private sector competition. Integration with an NHS trust locally or nationally is one route, and as has happened elsewhere, it could be possible to set up a new NHS trust; there is no legal barrier to this (it would be a matter of Department of Health approval).

What You Can Do: Get in touch with your local anti-cuts group  and tell us what you think. Make your views heard: send letters to local newspapers and elected representatives, contact your GP, consultant or health support group (a template ‘open letter’ is available on the websites overleaf), and tell your friends, neighbours and colleagues. If you are a member of NHS staff email: helpthenhs@hotmail.co.uk (a supporter of the campaign who is a member of staff and union member) and if not already a member, join a trade union and get active in your branch.

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