There are two local NHS issues that really reflect the national picture - that the NHS is currently being mismanaged, underfunded and increasingly privatised.
These NHS news items show how important it is to keep campaigning and to keep speaking out - focusing on the NHS founding principles of a publically run, managed and accountable NHS.
NHS Pay dispute: what is happening?
NHS workers iin GMB, RCN and UNISON have voted overwhelmingly to reject the insulting pay award of 3%. (UNITE have extended their indicative ballot to the 3rd October. So, if you're a UNITE member, there is still time to vote).
This resounding 'NO' vote means that these unions will now be balloting staff for their views on industrial action. Sussex Defend the NHS supports these actions and the positive implications they also have for patient safety and recruitment of staff.
We have been able to support several unions 'days of action' and will be ready again. Check our social media if you'd like to join in.
Our local NHS: what is happening?
You may have seen in the press that local hospital doctors have written a very strong and damning letter to their Trust Chief Executive and Board. (The newly formed University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust). The NHS staff claim that some care is unsafe, staff are utterly burnout and that the management is uncaring and incompetent. They ask for some services to be provided elsewhere.
We believe that staff must be under intolerable pressure to have to whistleblow in this way. We also believe this completely reflects the national picture - the NHS is being pushed into this crisis, started many years ago but laid bare by the Covid 19 pandemic. Even before the pandemic, there was underfunding, there was privatisation, there was 100,000 staff vacancies, there was undermining of core values. All these issues are now much worse.
And this is not the only thing where national failings are played out in local services. (and where campaigning is beginning to make a difference). We have discussed Integrated Care Systems (ICS's), and the current Health Bill (the bill that is making enabling legislation for the ICS to be legal), several times.
Our ICS - the Sussex Health and Care partnership - have produced a document stating that at least 14 services are 'fragile and challenged'. The Health Service Journal (behind paywall) reports:
"The services on the list, put together by Sussex Health and Care Partnership, were: maternity; major trauma; cancer; paediatrics; stroke; diagnostics; musculoskeletal/orthopaedics; ear, nose and throat; cardiology; ophthalmology; dermatology; burns; sleep; and critical care for adults." It's not sounding great...but reflects the national picture and the growing opposition to both ICS's and the Health & Care Bill.
This is also an area where our collective campaigning is haveing an effect - you may have seen the very recent announcements that people (and perhaps companies) with private healthcare interests will not be able to sit on local Integrated Care Boards. Whilst showing that camapigning does work, these piecemeal amendments are not nearly enough - the whole ICS programme and the Health & Care Bill should be scrapped.
We have raised the issue of racism in BSUH (now University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust) before...but want to talk about Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cisse again. It's sometimes not helpful to single out individuals when we want to talk about institutional or structural racism - but Vivienne has a national profile, she is the chair of the National NHS BME Network and she is now taking her case to the European Court of Human Rights. You can read more about her case on Vivienne's crowdfunding site. Sussex Defend the NHS support Vivienne in her quest to clear her name and achieve justice following her (unfair) dismissal.
The NHS Pay Review Body has recommended that NHS workers get a 3% pay rise this year (from March 2021). This is, of course, an insulting pay offer - below inflation and coming on top of more than a decade of similar below inflation rises or pay freezes.
All the main NHS unions are instructing their members to reject this paltry offer and have begun indicative ballots (do you support or reject the pay offer).
Check our Press Release, and look out for us on Latest TV and Radio Sussex!
Good to have some positive news for a change! A project producing a quilts and embroidering large handkerchiefs as part of the Oppose ICS’s campaign has been taken round the country.
Sussex Defend the NHS is out on the streets in the next few weeks supporting health workers in their campaign for a decent pay rise. Next they will be outside the Royal Sussex County Hospital at 11am on August 17th joining a demonstration and ballot-signing organised by the GMB and the campaign NHSPayJustice.
Clare Jones, a local NHS nurse UNITE staff rep.*, says “A below-inflation pay rise is an insult for NHS workers. I am pleased that the unions are working together and saying ‘Not good enough’ to the Government.”
After a long delay the government have offered a derisory 3% which all of the major health unions say is totally inadequate. It will mean less than the Real Living Wage (£9.50ph) for the lowest paid, and it’s less than the rise in the cost of housing, food and travel to work. It will widen the pay gap within the workforce, and keeping wages so low will mean disaster for recruiting and for retaining staff.
Louise, a local mental health nurse in UNISON, says “I am voting to reject the offer and I’m prepared to strike; I’m encouraging my colleagues to do the same.”
Kelly, a registered nurse from Brighton and GMB activist**, explained why she and her union are sticking out for 15%: “ We have faced a decade of austerity so another real- terms pay cut is just rubbing salt into the wound for staff. This year it’s actually less than a 1% pay rise in real terms after 4% predicted inflation, and we’ve already seen a 20% pay cut since 2010. Also the NHS is chronically understaffed and this 3% offer isn’t enough to persuade overworked current staff to stay, let alone recruit the new workers we desperately need.”
Sussex Defend the NHS sees this offer as insulting, and part of the government’s efforts to undermine and privatise the NHS. It has used the pandemic as an excuse to speed up the process, wasting huge amounts of public money keeping private hospitals afloat, and funding an unworkable Track and Trace system. Instead, it should be fully funding the NHS including a 15% wages to its staff.
We wholeheartedly support Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé and other members of the BME network in BSUHT, fighting tirelessly to expose racial inequality and institutional racism in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.
We condemn the Trust senior management who have spent £100s of 1000s to quash the legal actions of Dr Lyfar-Cisséand and others to intimidate them into silence.
Here is Vivienne's personal statement re her campaign:
"Since 2004 Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé has dedicated considerable energy on working on her own behalf and with and for others to challenging institutional racism in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and the NHS more generally. Her determined stance (as one of two black women in a senior position) in the furtherance of full racial equality in the Trust systematically made her a target for senior management. This resulted in a number of successful and unsuccessful Employment Tribunal claims for racial discrimination and victimisation over the years.
On 1 April 2017 Ms Marianne Griffiths was appointed Chief Executive of the then Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust and by June 2017 she had dismissed Dr Lyfar-Cissé, based on the outcome of a disciplinary against Dr Lyfar-Cissé some 6 months before her appointment. Both the disciplinary and dismissal charges gave rise to Employment Tribunal claims, which are now the subject of a claim before the European Court of Human Rights, because of the Tribunal’s violations of Dr Lyfar-Cissé’s right to a fair trial.
Dr Lyfar-Cissé has by way of her crowdfund appeal, to cover her legal costs and expenses, set out for the first time her position as to matters that are currently in the public domain in the hope that this will encourage people to support her fight for justice".
Sussex Defend the NHS statement:
"In all the years Sussex Defend the NHS has known and worked with Dr Lyfar-Cissé and other members of the BME network in BSUHT they have been fighting tirelessly to expose racial inequality and institutional racism in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust. The BME Network under the leadership of Dr Lyfar-Cisse, has done this with little thought for their own interests. Over a period of several years, successive trust managements have tried to suppress the Network and individual members, intimidating them with threats of disciplinary action, but have been successfully fought off.
That is until the new Trust management, led by CEO Marianne Griffiths, took over on 1 April 2017. Determined to quash the BME Network and silence dissent - three senior black members of staff, including two black medical consultants, were dismissed within 6 months. Dr Lyfar-Cissé was herself dismissed on 28th June, 2017, on trumped-up charges, and has been fighting through employment tribunals and courts ever since to clear her name, and obtain redress for her unjust treatment at the hands of the CEO and the senior trust management.
We wholeheartedly support her latest brave action in pursuit of her right to a legally valid and unprejudiced trial and justice, taking on the UK government via legal proceedings in the European Court of Human Rights. We will do all in our power to support her and very much hope other campaigns, groups and organisations will do the same".
National day of Protest for NHS Birthday weekend: Patient Safety, Pay Justice & end to Privatisation
We marked the 73rd NHS Birthday with a 'Hands Off' workshop and with local nurses and trade unionists calling for a 15% pay rise. Sadly our main event had to be postponed due to Covid safety concerns.
Alongside many NHS campaigners, we are calling for the complete halt of ICS's. The new NHS Bill is due to be law later this year (the White Paper was in Feb). At the time we talked about how this would increase privatisation, put profits before patients and generally undermine the principles of the NHS. We are not ones to say 'we told you so', but these things are happening now before the necessary changes have even become law. GP practices have been taken over by US insurance giant Centene, a massive grab & sale of our health data ** is planned and we may see Dido Harding as the head of NHSE/I.
Keep our NHS Public has produced some great information about the implications of ICS, and they also have a petition. We will be distributing their leaflets - get in touch on our email if you'd like to be involved in this. And lobby your MP. The delay of both the data grab and the Police bill show that public protest and outcry, as well as targeted legal action, are working.
**The time you have to opt-out of this sale of your data has been extended to 30.09.21. Find the forms here.
Following discussions with Brighton & Hove City Council, rising Covid rates in the City, and postponement of other outdoor events, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone our event planned for Saturday 3rd July. (Safety of performers, of NHS staff and of the public at such an open, static event is paramount). We are looking at dates in late Summer or early Autumn.
We will, however, still be taking part in the National Day of Action on Saturday 3rd July - For Patient Safety, Pay Justice and end to Privatisation. Please check our calendar page and social media to find out what is happening in the city.
We will also be organising 'NHS hands' workshops/stalls - please check calendar page and social media for details.
The Greensill collapse - Lobbying – David Cameron – The NHS What has this scandal got to do with us?
When Greensill Finance was wound up it was quietly lobbying the government for funding which was intended to protect the economy from the stresses of lockdown.
At the same time, the company was promoting its services to individual NHS Trusts and seeking privileged cooperation from NHSX in order to access the ESR (Electronic Staff Record)
In May, 2021, Greensill Finance went into liquidation. The future of the Earnd app and its users is still not clear.
Some key numbers
450 The number of NHS staff already using Earnd
3 The number of NHS Trusts already involved with Greensill Finance
£150,000 The salary of a British Prime Minister. (Cameron says his Greensill salary is/was much more than this)
£200m The amount that Cameron might have gained if Greensill had been successful
30,000 The number of younger NHS workers using 5 or more loan providers
100+ The number of different loan providers being used by NHS staff
4% The proportion of NHS staff who have a regular saving arrangement
£18,005 - £19,337 Band 2 (e.g. housekeeping assistant) pay rates
£19,084 - £104,927 Band 9 (e.g.chief finance manager) pay rates
-3,700 Number of nurses registered with the Royal College of Nursing this year
The big messages:
1. NHS staff are clearly struggling on current pay provision
2. Financial institutions are hovering like vultures around the NHS workforce
A leaked White Paper, NHS Reforms, Matt Hancock taking control of the NHS and his new NHS plan, an ‘end to privatisation’ in the NHS, new White Paper.
What’s going on?
The last week has seen several announcements, ‘leaked’ and actual, about the future of the NHS. Most commentators, if not all, are calling the proposals ‘new’ – as if Boris Johnson and Matt Hancock have seen the light, learned lessons from the pandemic and come up with a plan. Privatisation in the NHS will reduce, and there will be integration instead of competition, and everything will be lovely.
This, as with many things this Government announces, is really the opposite of what the NHS White Paper means.
There is not much actually new in these proposals and they are not a great undoing of the 2012 Health & Social care Act to make the NHS better– they are a logical extension of that Act and the NHS Long Term Plan (2019). This NHS White Paper wants to put into law an alternative structure to the NHS, the basis of which has already been rolled out across England at huge expense, without a democratic decision to do so.
Integration of health and social care sounds good. In fact, we have supported the NHS Bill, calling for the reinstatement of the NHS, which advocates a truly integrated approach. But that would require more involvement and funding for local councils, not less.
The Government’s Integrated Care Systems are wrongly named. They were proposed as a vehicle for ‘managing health and social care’ in the Long Term Plan but they are the continuation of the ideological path the Conservatives have been on for some time. ICSs won’t provide care according to people’s needs, which is the true responsibility of the NHS. Instead, they will have fixed budgets for an area and will ‘package’ their services to fit the budget – it’s a true Americanisation of the NHS.
Matt Hancock’s new plans would mean more American-style privatisation, not less. It’s the United Health version of health care. Already 83 corporations and businesses, including 22 from the US, are heavily involved in developing ICSs and some even sit on their boards, putting them in a prime position to steer decisions towards making more profits.
This is why Sussex Defend the NHS, and many other NHS campaigners, have been actively opposing these reforms - and their previous iterations such as STP’s (Sustainability and Transformation Plans) for some time.
Find out more and join Sussex Defend the NHS in opposing this White paper.
Find out more, especially about ICS, from Keep Our NHS Public Keep Our NHS Public (KONP).
If you’re on social media then follow us: https://twitter.com/SussexDefendNHS
Please sign and share the petition from We Own It.
We welcome the launch of the Vaccines for All campaign website: www.vaccineforall.co.uk and the news that over 230 organisa tions have signed up to the call on the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure that EVERYONE can access the coronavirus vaccine, regardless of immigration status, ID or proof of address.
Here is the link to the recent Treason Show dedicated to NHS workers
Government knew second wave of Covid was coming and defied scientific advice. Now NHS staff, patients and families are paying the price
Read the full text of our letter published in The Argus on 16th January 2021
Today’s Argus headlines make shocking reading, but it can’t be said that no one had seen it coming. For months over the summer, from the epidemiologists and other specialists to those working on the front line, the warnings about the need to prepare for the second wave, that they knew was coming, went unheeded by the government. And now we have a leading specialist at the Sussex County referring to the situation as ‘terrifyingly bad’. So bad that many staff are incapacitated with Covid, while many of those remaining are suffering from the traumatising effects of having to watch patients die, in their hundreds, despite all their best efforts to save them. This government will go down in the record books as being one of the most incompetent and incapable administration in living memory, only being rivalled by that of Neville Chamberlain, trumpeting ‘peace in our time’ shortly before the onset of the Second World War.
Now NHS staff, patients, and families are paying a huge price. We won't fall for divide and rule propaganda which points the finger at the public. This crisis is
Sussex Defend the NHS