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999 Call for the NHS

A grassroots NHS campaign. Not affiliated to any of the political parties.

999logofinal_Pill_straight_360 999 Blog

By 999 Call for the NHS, Jan 5 2016 08:23AM

Having promised myself that 2016 I would find some balance in my life when every waking moment wasn't filled with dread about losing the NHS to a bunch of nasty vicious greedy corporations, about why the public isn't in the streets screaming for justice, why our political system is a mess... you know the sort of casual stuff that floats round your head... and what am I doing? Sitting at my bloody desk answering emails, Facebook messages and writing a bloody blog at 6am in the morning! FFS! (modern acronyms dont ya love em!)

There is something in the water though. I notice there's a whole gang of us online. Who posts things on Facebook at 6am!!! Idiots who are fighting for the NHS that's who. Fighting because they've seen the awful betrayal by our political system - MPs, local councillors, Dept. of Health and Jeremy Hunt, NHS England itself - steamrolling ahead with an agenda of of privatisation that the general public have not agreed to, not been informed about and are only just beginning to realise is well underway.

This weekend is the Nurses, next week the Doctors. But we mustn't let them fight alone. They should not be divided. It's the same fight to stop the destruction of our NHS. 999 has always said we support all levels of the NHS, every skill level is important and vital to the public service we have lived with for 68yrs. A public service we must see brought back into public hands.

It has never been a perfect institution. No campaigner would ever state that was the case. It has moved with the times, the shape and nature of our society, the ever-changing political pressures and ideals and has been faced with attacks from all manner of organisations and individuals who are opposed to the idea of a public health system that does not make a profit for shareholders (I mean what would be the point of that?)

One argument and attitude we've come across time and time again is

"oh you want to go back to the 70's?"

"you can't live in the past you know, got to look forward"

"the world has changed since 1948"

Yes it has. Corporations have taken control not only of our physical economic assets but our political and cultural assets too.

They've managed to convince the world that private companies will be better at running countries than democratic governments. Akin to much of the current business world propaganda that is now spouted by (American again) modern motivational business trainers - They want us "live in the now" and keep looking to the future with no reference to the past.

(WARNING: vomit inducing - )

So... Don't look back, think about the future. Well that needs changing. We can and should look back to learn and realise where we went wrong. 1948 - amidst the rubble of World War II, the fierce opposition of a dying upper class Tory party - if a group of (some would say mad) visionaries like Bevan and the MPs who supported him could build something as profound and honest as the National Health Service then we in 2016 can rescue it, rebuild it and renationalise it.

Looking back and discovering what that group of idiots in 1948 set out to do - create a fairer, more equal, better society.

We can reclaim and rebuild it with that agenda in mind. Not profit. Not greed. Not health insurance. Looking back to those incredible high values and implementing them for the world ahead, the future of our kids and grandkids. The NHS can take full advantage of the hi-tech innovations, the digital universe but it must not sacrifice A&E wards, maternity wards, mental halth beds in place of phone apps. Above all it must not lose it's fundamental core value - a national public service owned, managed and funded by the nation for all our general safety, health and wellbeing.

We're going Beyond Bevan.

By 999 Call for the NHS, Aug 27 2014 08:00AM

Talking through the rain
Talking through the rain

Steven Sweeney

I first started working for the NHS back in 1991. I was a 17- year-old studying A-levels and needed some money to fund my weekends and my friend Ben had a job cleaning at Chesterton Hospital in Cambridge.

I soon joined him and embarked on a career that saw me working in a variety of hospitals including in Brighton, Eastbourne, Liverpool, Halifax, Cambridge and a spell in Australia. The hospital that I started out in is no longer there, demolished to make way for housing.

I have seen many changes over the years including the introduction of NHS Trusts in 1994, disastrous PFI projects and the expansion of a costly internal market. I also remember how grim things were under the Tories. I remember the buckets in the corridors collecting water from leaking ceilings.

When I started work there were two cleaners assigned to each ward. However, following outsourcing there was often only one cleaner for three wards. My local hospital, Hinchingbrooke in Huntingdon, was the first in the country to be franchised, with privateers & donors to Tory Party Circle Health taking over in 2012.

Despite the spin, this has been an unmitigated disaster. After taking over to much fanfare it didn’t take long before the cracks began to show. Front-line nursing staff were axed. The cleaning contract was renegotiated, leaving half the number. Circle CEO Ali Parsa, who had been parading himself around the main national media outlets months earlier citing the Circle model as the future for the NHS, resigned six months into a 10-year contract.

Margaret Hodge MP slammed Parsa and Circle at the Commons public accounts committee, accusing him of being sacked and questioning the £400,000 payout he received on jumping ship. Months later, the chief executive of the hospital Jim O’Connell took “early retirement” at the age of 50, which must be small consolation to those health workers who have been told they must work longer and pay more into their pension to get less at the end of their working lives.

Cambridgeshire has been used as a testing ground for NHS privatisation with the successful bidders for a controversial contract for older people’s services set to be announced at the end of September. Despite a high-profile campaign and over 5,000 signatures opposing the plans, the Cambs and Peterborough care commissioning group (CCG) have ploughed ahead with the largest tender in NHS history which could see private-sector vultures Virgin Care or Care UK running the services.

On a personal note, my youngest daughter was admitted to the special care baby unit when she was born with breathing difficulties. Without that care and support she would have died. Only the NHS can provide this. This service, like so many others in the NHS, was threatened with closure.

The People’s March for the NHS was started to highlight the government role in the destruction and privatisation of the NHS. While there are national issues, each section of the march has its own story.

I am the co-ordinator for the Bedford leg of the march and we will be highlighting the campaign to defend NHS services that are under threat in Bedfordshire and Milton Keynes. The CCGs have been conducting a “healthcare review” since January and as a result it looks very likely that one of the hospitals will end up with a downgraded A&E.

The private sector has also been invited to see which services they can cherry pick, leaving both areas facing an uncertain future. Recent news saw A&E services in Bedford struggling to cope with “extra demand” due to the start of the school holidays.This pressure would increase considerably if one of the A&Es were to be downgraded and it doesn’t take a great imagination to realise the potential consequences.

This has become a battle for the soul of the NHS. The People’s March is the visible expression of this. I have said at countless NHS campaign meetings, rallies and other events that it is up to us to set the agenda, and the march can fulfil this role.

The Tory claims of openness and transparency — “No decision about me without me” — are far from the truth.

I was at Hammersmith Hospital in London recently when the CCG was deciding on the future of Charing Cross Hospital. Hundreds of protestors demonstrated outside receiving support from passing cars and members of the public. Heavy-handed security accosted me at a side entrance, but more significantly they barred Hammersmith MP Andy Slaughter from entering the public meeting. This is a shameful stifling of democracy and it was only after he went live on LBC that they allowed him in.

Similarly in Cambridgeshire it took the threat of legal action before the CCG embarked on a public consultation over the controversial tendering of almost £1 billion of services for older people, and even then the question of whether services should be run by the private sector wasn’t asked and campaigners condemned the process as a whitewash.

We have also started discussing the legacy that can be left by the march. As we leave each area, the issues still remain. At present, the struggle is localised with many different campaign groups from Save Lewisham Hospital to Occupy Stafford – but the attacks are national and so must be the response.

Uniting groups and sharing experiences is crucial. In Bedford and Milton Keynes, we were quick to realise this. One of the slogans that has grown organically from the campaign has been “One Community. One Goal. Save Our Hospitals.”

I am joining the March in Bedford & Luton as I cannot stand by and watch as the Tories systematically destroy and privatise our NHS — an NHS that was fought for by working-class people and represented a major step forward for the health of the nation.

When we do fight we can win.

The Lewisham Hospital campaign is an example for us all. In Cambridge, mental health service users who occupied Lifeworks won a victory, securing the future of their services. And fight we must as our NHS is under threat like never before.

One Community. One goal. Save our NHS.

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We never have been.

We know it's going to take political legislation to bring back the NHS into public hands but we remain independent of all the parties in order to lobby and pressure all the parties. We are about people and the NHS they should be able to keep.


So to all MPs and politicians -   If the policy fits, we'll support it.  




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