Instead of clapping let’s use our energies to keep our NHS public?

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Thanks to the Godalming branch of The Compass Group the Waverley Web joined a Webinar presented by
 Keep Our NHS Public and Health Campaigns Together.

We heard from expert analysts, frontline NHS workers and the producer of Under The Knife (feature documentary on the covert dismantling of the NHS) to hear about how, aggravated by Government callousness and incompetency in the early stages of the Coronavirus outbreak, the NHS has already been defunded, understaffed and privatised to such an extent that its preparedness for the current emergency has been severely undermined and has needlessly cost lives.

Speakers included:
Neena Modi – Professor of Neonatal Medicine, Consultant at Imperial College London and Chelsea & Westminster Hospital; President, Medical Women’ Federation; Immediate Past-President, Royal College of Paediatrics & Child Health; Director, Neonatal Data Analysis Unit
Professor Allyson Pollock – Consultant in public health and director of Newcastle University Centre for Excellence in Regulatory Science
Dr John Lister – editor of Health Campaigns Together, co-editor,
Dr Sonia Adesara – Junior Doctor and member of KONP’s NHS Staff Voices
Pam Kleinot – Producer of Under The Knife

It is worth remembering that health is not a commodity and healthcare is not a business and we must not allow all those who have died from the Coronavirus, to have died in vain.

 Speakers relayed to a large following some of the catastrophic mistakes made by the Government since the Coronavirus hit our shores. They highlighted the years of mismanagement leading to us becoming THE worst country in Europe for deaths or long-term damage as a result of the Covid-19 epidemic.

But there were more worrying concerns as Health Secretary, following in the footsteps of our SW Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt continues the onward march towards privatisation.

Speakers outlined the cumulative impact of 20 years of ineptitude and privatisation that has led to a much-weakened NHS that has been de-stabilised now resulting in a Crisis in Social Care.

Screen Shot 2020-05-05 at 21.21.38Why has the Government brought in new super labs, affectively shutting off NHS labs for testing?

Why are 40per cent of  NHS beds closed to patients, urgently needing medical attention while doctors stand by helpless, under-utilised and frustrated?

Speakers called for a full investigation – not another public inquiry which would take years – but determine now why thousands of elderly people have died needlessly in Care Homes, leaving families and carers devastated and traumatised. This includes care homes in the borough of Waverley? In one home  – rated by The Care Quality Commission  as – OUTSTANDING  – five residents died in just one night!

And, where is the local data? Where are the figures for deaths of Waverley residents?

The tragedy on the old the length and breadth of the country will undoubtedly come back to haunt the Tory Party membership. Many of whose members are among the vulnerable elderly,  some of whom have been left to die in homes without protection, testing and with conflicting information. Where GP’s were prevented from visiting.

Why did the Government stop tracking and tracing in mid-March? Why has local government been side-lined – why haven’t all local environmental health officers been utilised to track and trace? And why has a private company, alleged to be an associate  of Government advisor Dominic Cummins, been awarded  a £250m contract, without any public scrutiny, or debate, to introduce an NHS app to the Isle of Wight – a place where most are elderly and many of whom probably don’t even own a SmartPhone?

Claims The government is using the coronavirus pandemic to transfer key public health duties from the NHS and other state bodies to the private sector without proper scrutiny, were raised during the Webinar, during which participants could add questions and comments.

Doctors, campaign groups, academics and MPs raised the concerns about a “power grab” after it emerged on Monday that Serco was in pole position to win a deal to supply 15,000 call-handlers for the government’s tracking and tracing operation.  

Screen Shot 2020-05-06 at 19.51.56.pngThey said the health secretary, Matt Hancock, had “accelerated” the dismantling of state healthcare and that the duty to keep the public safe was being “outsourced” to the private sector.

In recent weeks, ministers have used special powers to bypass normal tendering and award a string of contracts to private companies and management consultants without open competition.

Deloitte, KPMG, Serco, Sodexo, Mitie, Boots and the US data-mining group Palantir have secured taxpayer-funded commissions to manage Covid-19 drive-in testing centres, the purchasing of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the building of Nightingale Hospitals. 

We heard, that the Department of Healthhas written to NHS trusts instructing them to stop buying any of their own PPE and ventilators.

Questions from the public, including the Waverley Web came thick and fast about the 31 testing centres. They asked why care workers living in Norfolk were offered testing in Glasgow and Aberdeen? Said speaker John Lester – in a word, “Bizarre.”

He said 13 separate contracts had been awarded to private companies, which were completely dysfunctional, the army was brought in – then a Government Tzar who managed the Olympics.

The group called for the Health & Social Care Act, currently suspended, to be dumped once the crisis is over. Investigation held into why The Nightingale Hospitals referred to as ‘Dead White Elephants’  were not used to treat non-Covid patients rather than paying private hospitals millions of pounds  to carry out a few elective operations for NHS patients.  Hospitals which are only able to deal with minor cases, as most have few experienced staff, no emergency departments and no Intensive Care facilities.

  • In the system – there were 10,000 Private Care Beds – Empty
  • Thousands of Nightingale Beds –  Empty
  • and Thousands of NHS beds –  Empty

Speakers and the public agreed: It just doesn’t make sense!

Said Neena Modi – “There is a substantial amount of public funds going into private sector pockets.” People do have hearts of gold, clapping and donating to the NHS – but the NHS is a publicly funded organisation and they should instead use that money to clamour for much-needed change. To keep the NHS PUBLIC”

Speakers want the public reassured that the NHS is a public service and in common with the Health Service Journal (HSJ) believed former Strategic Health Authorities would have been better placed to deal with the crisis.

The non-politically aligned organisation is considering public protests when the crisis has passed – believing that when the clapping stops the public must be mobilised to stop creeping privatisation of OUR health services. It wanted infection and disease control put back into local hands. through a better financed local government, which once had the expertise and more important, strong local knowledge to deal with a track and racing during a pandemic.

Lack of space prevents us from reporting speakers’ concerns on the Cinderella Service of Mental Health, the service needed to deal with the Sunami of patient and health workers predicted to follow the pandemic. Also the effect of the pandemic  on both maternal and child health which will be affected for many years to come.

For more information:

You can watch the webinar video on Facebook. at keepournhspublic.

This video by Professor Allyson Pollock – Consultant in public health and director of Newcastle University Centre for Excellence in Regulatory Science  narrated by Alison Steadman is well worth watching. It will be available until Sunday 10th May

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