25 Oct 2012

Triumph for the people: Glos NHS

March meeting re NHS
 I was away for some days when the news was announced regarding our hospitals - it really was wonderful to see the earlier decision overturned and a rejection of the option of opening health services up to private sector bids. At the time we were told this was just not possible but the campaign was launched. Do read the press release below as it tells the story - huge thanks to all who played such an important part in this battle particularly locally Caroline Molloy, James Beacher, Michael Lloyd, John Marjoram and indeed many others....

I also recommend seeing some of the voices in this campaign on Stroud Community TV - click on: http://stroudcommunity.tv/caroline-molloy-speaks-about-the-amazing-victory-for-the-nhs-in-glos/

Press Release – Stroud Against the Cuts – 15/10/12 – for immediate release

A triumph for people power
Gloucestershire’s Community Hospitals to stay in NHS –outsourcing decision reversed

James Beecher, one of the campaigners
Today Gloucestershire NHS campaigners were celebrating victory as Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust announced that the county’s 8 community hospitals and health services (including 3000 nurses and other health workers[1]) would remain in the NHS – reversing an earlier decision to outsource services, in what would have been the largest such transfer in the country.  The board of NHS Gloucestershire voted today to create a new standalone NHS Trust [2], and to reject the option of opening health services up to private sector bids.  Locally this means staff and hospitals will remain wholly part of the NHS. At a time when many NHS Community health services elsewhere in the country are being tendered and taken over by private companies like Virgin and Serco [3, 4], and when concern about the consequences of the recent NHS Act is increasing at the highest levels [5], it is also a decision with significant national implications.
The decision follows a hard-fought 18 month campaign by anti-cuts campaigners across the county, including a High Court challenge against the Primary Care Trust’s outsourcing plans by 76 year old Michael Lloyd of Stroud, who argued that NHS options for services had not properly been considered. Lawyers acting for Mr Lloyd obtained a court order in February 2012 [6] halting the proposed outsourcing and requiring NHS Gloucestershire to go back to the drawing board and properly consider NHS options. In May, health ministers conceded [7] and the PCT accepted [8] what campaigners had always argued - that creating an NHS Trust was an option, and that there was no legal requirement on local health bosses to put services up for tender. The court order had also required NHS Gloucestershire to consult staff and the public – consultations which resulted in 91% of staff, and 96% of the public, voting for the services to be run by an NHS Trust [9].

Michael Lloyd, 71, a retired railway-man from Stroud, said “I am delighted by today’s decision. I can remember what life was like before the NHS existed, and we cannot allow a return to the fear and poverty that ill health brought in those days, and indeed still brings in the American market-based system.  Our NHS is too precious to be handed over to anyone on a political whim, nor should it have to compete against private providers, who are only interested in maximising their profits. The public, and the staff who provide my healthcare, should have been consulted in the first place, so I’m very pleased that our voices have been listened to at last.”

Caroline at public meeting in March
Caroline Molloy of Stroud Against the Cuts said “This is a triumph for people power, and the outcome we’ve worked for from the start. We would like to pay tribute to the tens of thousands of people across Gloucestershire who have contributed to this victory for our NHS, whether by marching, filling in consultations and petitions, attending meetings, contributing financially, or helping the campaign in countless other ways. We also owe a huge debt to the brave members of staff and trade unionists who spoke out, to the national campaigners like Keep Our NHS Public who have supported us, and most of all to Mr Lloyd, without whom, all these NHS staff and local hospitals would have already left the NHS. We were told over and over that there was no alternative to outsourcing our hospitals – but today we’ve proved that to be false. We’ve also shown that despite statements to the contrary, competitive tendering out of the NHS isn’t compulsory, and that local health bosses retain discretion to keep all services in house.”
Claude Mickleson of Forest against the Cuts added “We know that the NHS still faces wider threats, both locally and nationally, with widespread attempts to privatise, cuts staff numbers and to lower pay.  We will need to be vigilant – but we will be better able to resist future attacks now that we have won this battle. We hope today’s outcome makes everyone – including the Clinical Commissioning Group who will soon take over decision making in Gloucestershire - realise that when the principles of a free, publicly owned NHS are under attack, people can and will stand up protect it.”

See more at: http://keepglosnhspublic.posterous.com/

No comments: