1. NHS national news : John highlighted victories in saving Charing X and Ealing Hospitals
2. Updates from local groups
Dewsbury: Christine organised 3 showings of John Furze’s film Groundswell in Dewsbury, Halifax and Huddersfield at which John talked and answered questions. The Save Dewsbury Hospital campaign is also going to cafes and surgeries to share info and collect personal stories about the loss of Dewsbury A&E. They plan to put these together in a bulletin to be sent to the CCG, councillors and MPs.
York : Anne and Sylvia noted that campaigners are putting on a photo exhibition to show people what they have lost with the closure of Bootham Hospital. They have been pursuing the re-purposing of the building as a hub for mental health services without much success so far and chasing what has happened to the antiques and other valuable contents which seem to have disappeared from the building. The building of the new mental health facility out of the centre is delayed. ( This means that plans to shut Harrogate’s Briary Unit and send patients to York are also delayed ) .
Gwen said they have also submitted a question to the CCG re closures in Scarborough and Bridlington which she described as part of the “death of rural health”
Bradford: Ann West Said that Unite the Community were proving to be good allies in the fight to save the NHS and the rest of the welfare state.
Barnsley: Nora said that South Yorks had a meeting on Digital services with someone well informed from which it was clear to her that NHS Digital are not bothered about the rules re info sharing.
The mental health forum are writing to the DWP re serious concerns re proposed plans to set up a team in the Dept. of Work and Pensions which will create a system to more quickly access people’s health data to help them to determine how much welfare support they are entitled to.
The 5 South Yorks and Bassetlaw CCGS are now developing a joint plan to delegate more decision making to the relatively newly formed Joint CCG. South Yorks and Bassetlaw NHS Action Group are working with Rotherham campaigners to challenge the CCG over the total lack public involvement.
Showings of John Furze’s film Groundswell have been arranged in Sheffield and Rotherham.
Nora has gate-crashed 2 webinars on patient involvement and suggested others might do likewise.
Leeds Hospital Alert: Sylvia noted that Leeds and York ( mental health ) Partnership Trust have cut services and are charging for groupwork. New models of provision exclude people with long term mental health problems such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. Cases get closed when patients are too easily said to be “not engaging, nearest relatives are not able to request assessments and people are expected to refer themselves for psychological therapies. She is pursuing concerns with MP Rachel Reeves who has promised to raise them with Matt Hancock.
Hands off HRI Chris noted that the campaign is now in its 4th year. They have managed to maintain a lively and powerful presence but are have to keep countering the notion that the plans to close A&E and other provision at Huddersfield are a done deal. They have specialists examining the latest proposals for HRI in detail and are conducting a People’s Commission.
Chris is also working through the Labour Party and standing for council in the Newsome ward at the local elections in May. NB from Gilda – Colin Hutchinson is doing good work on WY&H joint Scrutiny Committee as a Labour Councillor
Airedale : Judith Joy said that their biggest fight is to keep Castlebury Hospital in Settle. Community campaigners were told that it would be restored and a lift put in but are now battling against the argument that this is unaffordable.
The 38 Degrees group meets in Keighley and are talking to a local cinema about showing “Groundswell”. They have obtained agreement from the local library to show Marion MacAlpine’s recently updated exhibition on privatisation in the NHS from May 7th – 25th. They have tried other places in North Yorks without success but there is potential for keeping the exhibition up north for a while if other groups are interested.
G. said Leeds would be keen and would like to add some local examples. York may also be able to use it.
Judith and Viv noted that it is hard work trying to get people interested and fired up about campaigning for the NHS or even seeing what is going wrong. This sparked some discussion about de-politicisation and lack of info. which Anne put in some historical context. We also had more discussion and some disagreement about the trade unions and at least agreed that they are much weakened but we are keen to involve health workers and campaign together where possible. The issue of involving conservatives particularly in rural areas was also raised.
Sheffield : John Carlisle noted that he has been involved in helping to set up a Yorkshire Branch of the Socialist Health Association. They are going to focus on Economics, highlighting the cost of waste, including PFI. They would also like to assist groups and have an excellent expert on modern monetary theory- Frances Hutchinson from Keighley. They are planning to put themselves about, prepare questions and populate various debates, starting with Sheffield Festival of Debate !9th April – 1st June see https://static1.squarespace.com/static/58b55bf2197aeabd5a9d1604/t/5c86677753450a49a40deb08/1552312224055/FofD+2019+Brochure+for+WEB.pdf They are also aiming to focus on Simon Stevens – bringing him down! This prompted some discussion on the importance of pushing the economic argument that we can afford the NHS, the multiplier, MMT etc.
Leeds: Dawn noted that her community arts organisation SPACE 2 obtained heritage lottery funding for putting together an exhibition around the NHS 70th birthday (“Many Happy Returns”) based on people’s stories. They have been working closely with Leeds KONP and the stories are printed on to an armchair, screens, banner etc. Part of the exhibition is currently on show at the Thackray Medical Museum which closes shortly. The full exhibition will be on show at Leeds Central Library 13th June to 5th July.
Gilda noted that Leeds KONP have arranged to have a stall at Mark Thomas show “Check Up : NHS at 70” at Wakefield Theatre Royal on 18th April and would welcome material from other groups. The show is being filmed and Mark’s team have said it is Ok to bring banners etc.so we hope to have a lively presence both inside and outside the theatre with a spot of melodeon playing and potential singing as well. The show is at Sheffield on April 16th and 17th. Leeds KONP has also had some discussion with Unite and Leeds TUC re the possibility of bringing Banner Theatre’s NHS show to Leeds. It costs £800 so would need joint funding.
West Yorkshire County Association of Trades Councils : Pete Keal said that they are trying to instigate and co-ordinate joint action across the different TUCs and thought that at least one focus should be West Yorks and Harrogate STP/ICP/S . One place to start might be a workshop or mini Conference for TUCs but they are open to suggestion. Pete also mentioned that local TUCs can get development grants of up to £300 which might be relevant for Banner theatre or other such initiatives.
3. Update on the severe restriction of 17 interventions deemed to be of low value.
John Puntis reported that he has been challenging NICE re their guidance and involvement and had a letter printed in the British Medical Journa . This notes that some recommendations contradict NICE guidelines and concludes
“NHS England’s cost cutting approach enforced through financial levers disregards the principle that “at the centre of medicine, there is always a human relationship between a patient and a doctor.” Moreover, the essence of evidence based medicine as the integration of clinical experience with the best available research information and patient values is undermined if the view of the patient is ignored.”
Meanwhile local areas continue to impose their own rationing. IVF is severely restricted and subject to a post code lottery and the thresholds for cataract surgery have been raised so high that people are going blind before they can get treatment. Orthopaedics, particularly joint replacements are expected to be high up on the next list of treatments rationed.
We agreed that the private sector will thrive on ops the NHS rations and NHSE has been actively pushing CCGS to commission private providers to do ops to cut waiting lists. Nora noted that where clinicians did speak out against rationing in South Yorkshire they have experienced a backlash.
4. Brief Review of the Yorkshire March for the NHs and any ideas arising from the experience this year.
There was general agreement that the march was useful in getting our messages across via public and social media, bringing campaigners, trade unionists, Labour Party branches et al together and boosting the confidence and morale of campaigners which has been somewhat eroded by the Brexit smog. Many members of the public clapped and took pics.
In terms of what we might learn for the future Anne Leonard said , to general agreement , that given we have a national network there should be the opportunity to make such events happen up and down the country at the same time which would increase impact
5. HCT Northern Conference
Gilda noted that The NHS section is sorted. We need at least one more speaker on Social Care, ideally from the Disabled Rights movement, which she will chase. We have given mental health its own slot but only 45 mins as trying to cover three bases. KONP is putting together a very short video piece on mental health, Sylvia is sounding out a local consultant psychiatrist and we hope York Mental Health Action group will contribute. The aim in all sections is to have short, thought provoking contributions which leave plenty of room for discussion on the floor and formulating ideas for action.
6. Consultations on the NHS long term plan
NHSE’s short survey on legislation in the long term plan closes 25th April. You can complete at https://www.engage.england.nhs.uk/survey/nhs-long-term-plan-legislation/ Healthwatch are also running consultations, not just in Leeds. John wondered if other areas have positive relationships with or experiences of Health Watch but this doesn’t seem to be the case in Yorkshire.
John also noted that We Own It and KONP are joining forces to encourage people to say they want rid of S75 but want NHSE to go further and get rid of all privatisation in the NHS. People agreed that it was important not to give any illusions that getting rid of S75 would end privatisation.
7. Charging ‘migrants’
John is pursuing his FOI re migrant charges in Leeds. It is understood that Unison have a motion to their national Conference against the charges. If someone owes more than £500 for health care they can be reported to the Home Office. Quite apart from the deliberate intent to create a hostile environment for migrants, the unfairness, risk to life and health of a particularly vulnerable sector of society and dangers to public health, charging migrants is the thin end of the wedge to charging all of us in for health care. Sylvia said that charges in Social Care have been ratcheting up and debt collectors employed to pursue non payers.
8. Other upcoming events
1. Stacey Booth, GMB, advised that there is a protest outside Barnsley Hospital on Wed 17th April 10.30am organised by GMB to protest the change in payment system for ISS catering staff .
2. Sat. May 4th: Many areas have Mayday Marches. Groups will be taking NHS campaign banners.
3. Sat. 18th May in Wakefield : Banners Held High celebration of working class and labour history takes as its theme “A Land Fit For Heroes? “ in the aftermath of World War One. The parade assembles at 11am at Smyth St then there are films, theatre, talks, exhibitions and stalls. The event looks at the resonances for today and also welcomes the Labour Party pledge to repeal the Trade Union Act 2016.
Summary of shared ideas and action arising from our discussions
1. Film, theatre, comedy, exhibitions are a good way to expand our audience and reach out beyond a small circle of people already interested.
Judith Joy will check out and advise whether we can keep Marion MacAlpine’s photographic exhibition on privatisation : “How come we didn’t know” in the north after their showing at Keighley library 7th – 25th May. Leeds interested late June and maybe for our Conference 29.6. York might be able to use it. Anyone else interested please liaise with Gilda.
2. Preparing questions to intervene in debates, webinars, public meetings as well as at LA and NHS Boards and forums is worth a go.
John Carlise and SHA Yorks can offer help and support. Nora is an expert on the duties on the NHS to engage with the public and will provide us with relevant info. She will also forward useful highlights from the meeting on digital services and suggested that if anyone wants to consider joining possible webinars , they see “ In Touch” magazine
3. It is worth focusing on simple messages aimed at what is important to people eg. highlighting rationing, the loss of the patient –doc relationship, continuity and face to face time, increasing distance to travel for GP and hospital care etc. along with challenging the notion that we can’t afford decent care and challenging the ideology which tries to turn the citizen into consumer and pits us against instead of for each other. People’s Commissions can be a useful tactic.
Where people have useful leaflets, please send to Gilda for sharing
4. Trying to keep inclusive : involving Conservatives, looking for joint action with the TUs and local TUCs.
Chris offered to share a talk/ paper on involving Conservatives in campaigning which he could circulate
John could add info from Shropshire KONP where activists have managed to run a powerful campaign in a a very Tory dominated area so we should take heart.
Pete Keal will be talking to the West Yorks network of Trades Councils and share their ideas with us.
5. We should seek to for alliances with health workers eg over migrant charges as well as safety, conditions of service etc.
Gilda to speak to Unsion re their motion on migrant charges and how to take this forward locally. .
John suggested we circulate the Medact charter.
Further action to be discussed at the Northern Conference – the issues is tucked into discussion in the morning
Anyone who can please send info to Sylvia re the vast hikes in charges for Social Care services
6. We should seek and plan for more co-ordinated days of action on various issues. G thought that there might be potential to do something collective over migrant, indeed all health charges but agreed with others who suggested that this that this might not be the most unifying place to start a series of co-ordinated actions.
All think about potential areas for shared days of action Motions can be put to KONP and HCT
G : In retrospect I wonder if mental health , particularly children’s mental health or out of area mental health placements would be a good focus for co-ordinated action ?
7. We need to finalise the programme for the Northern HCT Conference on 29th June, get a final flier out at the beginning of May and publicise as widely as possible
ACTION : Gilda, John and Mike Forster with support from all groups
NEXT YORKSHIRE HEALTH CAMPAIGNS TOGETHER NETWORK MEETING :
Friday 12th July pm : Venue and time tbc.