Thursday, 26 January 2017

Brent Trades Council 25/1/2016: College of N.W.London, NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’,Harlesden Post Office Threatened, Brent Unite Community

Brent Trades Council 25/1/2016  (Report By P.Murry Brent & London Green Party Trade Union Liaison Officer)

1)      College of N.W.London

I attended as an observer because Indro Sen UCU Branch Secretary of the College of N.W.London had been invited. I was trying to find out for Green Party TU group and UCU retired members’ branch more info re the dispute at CNWL. Sen did not attend the meeting and info was still needed on  the current state of the dispute ie: were the merger plans for CNWL and Westminster College, whether there were any redundancies and was Sen himself suspended or dismissed, I’ll try some other contacts at the College.

2)      NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’.

There two speakers on this subject, one whose name I didn’t note, and Anne Drinkell. In summary STP’s are the latest plan for NHS ‘reform’ seen by many as an attempt to prepare for a privatised health service and introduction of insurance related health provision. STP’s had been secretively planned with minimum public and professional consultations. N.W.London ( Hounslow, Kensington&; Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent, Harrow and Ealing) was a prototype area for STP’s . The rationales given of improving specialist care, such as Cardiac provision, didn’t make much sense as specialist provision was already available. Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals were immediately under threat. STP’s could also foist more responsibility onto local authorities for social care onto local authorities which couldn’t cope with the responsibilities that they already had.

A more detailed summary of the issues around STP’s from the London Green Party Campaigns discussions on 14/1/2017, is added below.

Considerable professional and public opinion against STP’s appears to be gathering, the BMA has opposed them. Well attended public meetings had taken place in Hammersmith and Brent Labour Party was campaigning ahainst  them at its regular  stalls.
I t was reported (by G.Durham), to have instructed Brent Council to oppose although Brent Labour group leader  had advocated a ‘dented shield’ strategy of being involved with STP’s in order to mitigate their worst effects. The Trades Council agreed to support the NHS demo on 4 March (, the Green Party was supporting this.

3)      Other matters discussed
a)Post Office Closures: Harlesden Post Office Threatened: impractical scheme of re-Locating Post Offices inside local shops. (see
b) Brent Unite Community branch being set up (contact Robin Sivapalan


Heather Finlay, Green Party activist in Hackney and lay member of Hackney CCG, also of Hackney Healthwatch: the Sustainability and Transformation Plans; what they mean, how they threaten major cuts, how to respond to this.
Merril Hammer, Save our Hospitals Campaign Hammersmith and Charing Cross; experiences of opposing hospital closures and how to campaign to preserve what we have.
Helen Mercer; People vs PFI
Pam Zinkin; Islington KONP (Keep our NHS Public)
Some web sites to look up for background:-
Health Campaigns Together:
Keep our National Health Service Public (KONP):
People vs PFI:
There was quite a lot in this meeting about ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’. Each group of London boroughs has one – they aim to reduce the cost of the NHS by various ‘savings’ which include moving people out of hospital faster and treating more of them as outpatients in the first place. All this throws extra burdens on the grossly over-stretched local authority social care budgets. A number of local councils have refused to endorse the STP for their area, or merely to ‘note’ it rather than say they support it. Campaigning to avoid these cuts can be addressed to councillors as well as to central government. Hopefully resistance from local councils and from within the medical profession will induce the government to put more money into the NHS and into social care. The various CCGs were supposed to sign contracts with NHS England to accept their local STP on 23 December. What follows is a lengthy consultation period in which the nature of the cuts can be debated and challenged – although unless central government changes its mind, the extent of the ‘savings’ demanded has already been set.

Notes of discussion – main practical proposals
1)    Green Parties should be seen to oppose STPs. It’s not too late for councils to object. They can also impose conditions on the STP partnership.
2)    As individual Green members we can join existing campaigns like HCT and KONP. It helps those organisations if Green Parties affiliate.
3)    We can also start our own campaign in our area if there is none- but they tend to be more effective if non-party. People can start a branch of KONP or HCT if there is none locally.
There is a helpful resource pack on the HCT web site about campaigning, including against STPs.
4)    We can and should support the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Commons on February 24th – see
A helpful amendment which could be proposed to this bill would be to alter the way in which re-nationalisation of PFIs would be dealt with – as per Helen’s talk – to take back the assets rather than the debt. Replacing the debt with government bonds would help the companies rather than deprive them, and of course add to the national debt. Alyson Pollock and Peter Ruddick may try to secure an amendment to reflect this change.
PFI burdens on local authorities are huge – this impedes them from taking responsibility for social care properly.
Contracting out of some NHS services means it is effectively being given away rather than sold for money – see article in the latest Green World (the one about to come out ?).  (This was from Mike Gold; see also his own blog,
Although there is little money left in the NHS for adequate monitoring of services, the public can hold PFI companies and sub-contractors to account through Healthwatch. There are meetings where the results on ‘key performance indicators’ are presented and can be challenged. There are financial penalties if these key indicators are not achieved.
Some debate as to the relative importance of local actions like this and national lobbying and Parliamentary intervention. However…
5)    the meeting was impressed by Heather Finlay’s role on the CCG and Healthwatch in Hackney, and concluded ‘every Green Party needs a Heather’ – though with a warning that this sort of committee work is very time-consuming.
It’s hard to get the public to believe and take in what is happening to the NHS – they just think everything is ok unless their own or their family’s treatment hits an obstacle.
6)    It’s important to issue lots of leaflets, which must be very simple and avoid acronyms. Green Parties can help distribute KONP, HCT etc leaflets with Greens’ own material. So when we do a leaflet round, we can add a health related leaflet to it as well.
7)    Publicising the issues about the NHS crisis and its roots in STPs, PFIs and sub-contracting can also be done through social media; especially useful to create video clips.
8)    The March 4 demo about the NHS will be very important and we should start mobilising for it.
9)    We should set up a London group within the London Fed to support local parties in health related campaigning and coordinate between them, for example the several boroughs who share a particular STP ‘footprint’.

Helen Mercer of People against PFI outlined the dangers and costs of PFIs and – as described above under point 4 - mentioned an apparent flaw in the forthcoming NHS Reinstatement Bill; that it calls for re-nationalisation (i.e. public buy-back) of the PFI debt, whilst a better policy would be to call for the buying back of the much smaller amount of equity capital in the PFI company, thus acquiring the assets involved. The arguments she made are already online at:-

Merril Hammer of Health Campaigns Together talked about the STPs (Sustainability and Transformation Plans) and strategies to oppose them including by and involving local councillors. Text of talk ...scroll down...

Forthcoming health related events:-
Saturday 28 January

London Rally & Protest - Hands off our NHS 12:30 Old Palace Yard. Invite your friends on Facebook here.

Message about 4 March demo from Health Campaigns Together:-
The leaflet for the 4th March Demo will be available by 12th January; please send Louise your orders        (make sure you include a postal address).
It is a generic leaflet. If groups want a PDF designed with their local details about coaches or contacts added to the design let us know and we can get it designed and sent back to you for local printing. We are very grateful to People’s Assembly for leaflet design and to Unite for printing.

Some groups are doing a day of action on Saturday 14th to help build for the demo and if you would like leaflets for that please let Louise know as soon as possible so we can get them to you in time.

We also have a website now
Please send any information about local groups’ arrangements, coaches and contact details and we will upload to the website. This will be particularly helpful for people who find out about the demo but don’t know about local transport arrangements.

Please share the information with your local contacts and on social media via Facebook and Twitter (#ourNHS). There is a demo Facebook page :

Finally, any donations would be welcome towards our costs. You can donate to Health Campaigns Together and the details on how to send donations are on the HCT

(Louise said) I also attach our list of demo supporters so far. (it is not complete). If anyone has any to add please let me know. It would be good to have the growing list of supporting organisations on the website.

The HCT meeting on 21 Jan will discuss plans for the demo and we are hoping there will be a wide representation of campaigners there.

Any queries just email or you can phone me on 07922 277395.

Best wishes and happy new year to you all,

Merril’s talk on STPs:-

·        Sustainability and Transformation Plan
·        Slash Trash and Privatise
·        Slash Trash and Plunder
·        44 ‘footprints’ across England, 5 of them in London – combining CCGs and local councils
·        Govt and NHSE – to improve health provision in the context of a population that is growing older, living longer and is presenting more complex problems.
·        Reality: cutting funding and moving to more privatisation. What is proposed is politically driven and not driven by health concerns. Tories never liked the NHS. Elected on a ‘no more top down reorganisation of NHS’ they have, first, had the Health and Social Care Act 2012 implemented. This rolled out the marketisation of health care. (Caroline Lucas is fighting this with the NHS reinstatement bill), and now, with no legislation and no full parliamentary debate, instituted the STP top down reorganisation.
·        CUTS. Nationally, the NHS has to deliver £22bn in cuts by 2020/21
·        Huge reduction in hospital beds, closing A&Es, moving to more ‘care in the community’ – it varies to some extent between STPs – but let me give some figures for the NW London STP
·        Closure of 2 hospitals and more than 500 acute beds to be lost, despite effects of earlier A&E closures… Aim to cut more than £1.3bn in NW London … increased workloads for already overstretched GPs … more online GP consultations … privatisation through American-style ACPs … and by encouraging prevention and wellbeing so people don’t get sick!!
·        Lack of evidence – and what they do present is ‘unfit for purpose’ – and the costings etc. don’t add up!
·        Dependence on social services – now hugely cut and without more than a minimal ‘bribe’ from NHSE. And dependence on unpaid carers … in our STP, 103,001 unpaid carers.
·        Innovation in context of cuts simply cannot work
·        Not only are STPs being implemented without parliamentary approval; local consultation is a farce – more a sales job to a very limited no. of people
·        Further, STP governance is moved further away from any form of local accountability. Meetings will not necessarily be open to public. Much local control disappeared with the 2012 Act and the setting up of unaccountable CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) which are really a market mechanism. Now, the governance will move even further from local accountability.
·        Clearly a result of ongoing cuts to the NHS, particularly hospital services. In NW London, there has been no recovery from the disastrous closure of 2 A&Es – and yet 2 hospitals are to be closed and turned into glorified UCCs  (Urgent Care Centres) when they can neither cope with current emergencies and the growing backlog of non-urgent operations.
·        This is a pattern being repeated across the country
·        In Worcester, only this week, 2 people died waiting for care, one after a 35 hour wait on a trolley; the other of an aneurism after many hours on a trolley.
·        More people being seen in corridors etc.
·        The details being covered in the press are the tip of the iceberg!
·        One patient in NW London, with acute appendicitis, was not seen for 16 hours in total. She attended one hospital, was transferred to another and then to another … with long waits, in pain, at each. This is shocking!!
·        Overwhelmingly, the crisis is being caused by lack of beds for seriously ill patients, staff shortages partly because of funding and partly the result of recruitment issues (a real problem in London) and NOT because people are inappropriately using A&Es. The government is moving blame from itself to the patient – this is dangerous. A small anecdote on staffing: Richard Sykes (Chair of NHS London); ‘working our staff to death’ – there are no efficiency savings left to be made.
·        Health care expenditure in Germany, Sweden, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Austria in 2015 was higher than UK expenditure as % GDP – and it has fallen significantly since. Indeed, this week The Guardian said that % GDP spent on health is already at 6.6% - compared to 11% in Germany and an EU average of 9.9% in 2015.
·        Practicing doctors per 1000 population. European average 3.5; UK average 2.8 – only just above poor eastern European countries
·        MRI units – Europe average 15.4; UK – 6.1 per million population
·        CT scanners – key for cancers – Europe average 21.4; UK – 8 per million population. And for both, the no of actual MRI scans or CT scans are well below the European average. Also interesting, then, that cancer survival rates are poor in the UK.
·        Indeed, mortality rates for pneumonia and COPD in the UK are also significantly worse than the European average.
·        Hospital beds per 1000 population. European average is 5.2; UK is 2.7 – and Germany has 8.2.
Give some consideration to priorities for Green Party, Green councillors and individual Green party members.
·        Get the Green Party, locally and nationally, to oppose STPs. It is NOT too late to get councils to object! Signing up without proper scrutiny etc.
·        Join, as individuals, local campaigns – non-party political but would be welcomed with open arms
- London STP areas and local campaigns
     NW London: Westminster, K&C, H&F, Hounslow, Ealing,
              Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon
SW London: Croydon, Kinsgton, Merton, Richmond,         
          Sutton, Wandsworth
SE London: Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth,
          Lewisham, Southwark
NE London: Barking and Dagenham, City of London,
          Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower
          Hamlets, Waltham Forest
N Central London: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey
- start a campaign if there isn’t one in your area
·        Get the Green Party – nationally and local branches – to affiliate to KONP (Keep our NHS Public) or HCT (Health Campaigns Together). See web sites and
·        Familiarise yourself with information about STPs and campaigning – see HCT website
·        Support the March 4th demo.

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