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    Waiting for Jeremy: Wavertree Chair Alex Scott-Samuel and other invited Merseyside activists on stage awaiting the Leader’s Speech at #Lab18

    Note the SHA tee-shirt.


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    For those who were unable to attend Conference, here is Dr Coral Jones speaking at the conference.

    Jean Hardiman Smith

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    To all members, comrades and friends on behalf of the Officers and Executive:

    First, I would like to thank Judith Varley for the tremendous support she gave me at the Conference as a disabled companion. It was extra good having an active and interested SHA member as a plus to our usual allocation of 2. Judith was invaluable in discussions, and in looking around the wider fringes and events at conference. I hope she will have her own tale to tell. Thanks also to my SHA fellow delegate, Coral, who was just great to work with. Missing her already.
    SHA had a wonderful presence at the Labour Party Conference this year (2018). There was a slight disappointment from the perspective of the Socialist Health Association in that the Conference focus was on Brexit. In the Women’s Conference our own delegate, Coral Jones, spoke well and persuasively on our motion on the issue of abortion, and how it is still technically a criminal matter. Coral will tell us more about this in her own words. Although the motion was not chosen to go forward, one on Women and the economy being favoured, all was not lost. Coral managed to speak to it eloquently, persuasively, and at some length, at the end of the main Conference, after Central Council member Norma Dudley proposed a reference back to our SHA motion on NHS renationalisation. Norma was speaking on behalf of her CLP, but she mentioned us warmly, and was speaking for us too. I cannot praise her ability highly enough, she is a real asset, like Coral.
    I discovered, if I didn’t already know, that there is a wealth of talent amongst SHA women. Even when they were not speaking on the platform, or chairing sessions, they were showing their understanding and passion on health and care issues from the floor. I will try to remember some names, but everyone I heard was amazing, so if is an oversight if you are not mentioned:
    Saturday/Sunday: Myself and fellow SHA member Felicity Dowling were speaking at The World transformed on the way forward for the NHS on Sunday. I hope I did us proud, Felicity certainly did. I am hoping she will let us have a copy of what she said to put on our website. Jessica Ormerod, and Nicholas Csergo were present to support us, as were other members and friends. If you read this, please add to the debate, and add your name to the people present. As speakers we didn’t get to take part in the round table discussions, and it would be good to hear about them.
    Other members were speaking at, and supporting the Conference fringes and events on Sunday, and I hope Felicity will also let us know about the Women’s March to save the Royal women’s Hospital in Liverpool on Saturday.

    Monday: Our first Fringe event was on Women’s Health and was very ably chaired by Central Council member and Chair of Liverpool SHA, Irene Leonard. It was attended by Alex, me, and Andy Thompson and a lot of other members and supporters. It was great to see Andy, Alex, and Nicholas supporting the session on Women’s Health. Of course, it is not just a women’s issue, and their support and friendship is very much appreciated. Our members Jessica Ormerod, Felicity Dowling and another local activist with a great depth of knowledge (Alex can tell us more about her, and I hope we meet up with her again – and recruit her), spoke so eloquently and passionately on the subject, and members of the audience were able to make very knowledgeable and worthwhile contributions. I hope Irene will say a few more words on this session.
    Tuesday: Coral, myself and Judith mostly stayed in the Conference, but in the afternoon, Brian Fisher our Vice President arranged a meet up to talk about Care in the Community. Judith and I attended, while Coral and Norma both covered the Conference.
    Tuesday Evening: Our second Fringe meeting on care and the renationalisation of the NHS Bill. We were very lucky with this, as MP Emma Dent Coad, who is the MP who ensured Grenfell did not pass unnoticed, and Eleanor Smith, the MP who is supporting the Renationalisation Bill through Parliament were both able to be present for almost the whole of the session. We also had our SHA member Judy Downey, possibly the foremost expert in the country from SHA perspective, and who is honest, and passionate. Last, but not least, Brian Fisher our Vice President spoke well and passionately about the issues, and a truly Socialist solution. I had the honour of chairing, but with a whole roomful of energised, knowledgeable and passionate people, both speakers and audience, it chaired itself. Again, Nicholas and Alex were there to support, as were Norma, Corrie Lowry, another Central council member, and great speaker, and Felicity. Our own Kathrin Thomas was also there in support. We all agreed that we could not let care be relegated to the long grass, as it seems to be in great danger of doing, and I hope we will get the opportunity to work with the MPs again. Gilda Petersen, from HCT, with whom we (SHA via Brian and me) are working on a Conference in November (details to follow) brought leaflets to the meeting room. I hope everyone will support this. It is in Birmingham on the 17th November and will be another chance to hear some wonderful speakers again, meet with new ones, and spend a whole day thinking about these complex issues.

    Judy spoke about the privatisation of Liberty and will do so again in November.

    Today I collected our material from the stall, and listened to a great speech from Jonathan Ashworth, and, to come full circle, the debates to which Coral and Norma made such a great SHA contribution.

    To all members and friends, I won’t know what everyone did, and your contributions are all important. Please send me your information and opinions, so that all voices are heard

    Jean Hardiman Smith Secretary and proud SHA delegate

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    Saving the NHS: Planning Our Fightback
    Sunday 23rd September, 10.45 – 12.45
    organised by Health Campaigns Together and NEON.

    Venue: Black E (sometimes described as Liverpool’s third cathedral) at
    1 Great George St, Liverpool L1 5EW

    This is part of a series of events, alongside the Labour Party Conference,
    organised by The World Transformed.

    We plan a lively session that asks participants to think forward and think strategically.
    Speakers include John Lister from HCT, Public Matters, National Nurses United, Save Liverpool
    Women’s Hospital, Wigan Outsourcing Campaign, Socialist Health Association, Just Treatment.

    See you there!

    Keith Venables, HCT and George Woods, NEON.

    Lastly, ahead of the event we’d really appreciate you helping us promote it and get the word out.

    You could retweet the @TWT_NOW tweet here
    You could add something like this to the tweet:

    ‘We’re going to be at the session on a mass movement to save the NHS at @TWT_NOW this year!

    Join us to help build a practical plan to defeat privatisation and cuts s/289263841860031/

    Join and share the Facebook event page here s/289263841860031/

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    My priorities for Health Behaviours …

    1. Change the language!
    2. More controls on junk food marketing to kids
    3. Minimum unit pricing for alcohol is a must
    4. Start taking cycling seriously
    5. Betting. When the ‘fun’ stops


    This is my city

    It is not a rich city!

    Do not blame us about how we live or tell us it’s about our lifestyles or our behaviour but do something about our environment so that it’s easier for us to live healthier and longer.

    Premature Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease are significantly higher in Liverpool City Region – 80% could be avoided through behaviour change:

    Deaths from Cardiovascular Disease

    DSRs = Directly Age-Standardised Rates

    But for behaviour change to happen we need less emphasis on the individual more on the environment

    • We are surrounded by junk food and bombarded with messages to buy sugary drinks and processed food
    • It’s sometimes cheaper to buy alcohol than bottled water
    • Our traffic systems are built around cars when bicycles are the environmentally healthy choice
    • And a growing habit-forming behaviour that is leading to public health concerns
    More controls on junk food marketing to kids

    More controls on junk food marketing to kids

    A Labour Government should close existing loopholes to restrict children’s exposure to junk food marketing across all the media they are exposed to. This should include updating current broadcast regulations with a 9pm watershed on advertising of food and drinks high in fat, sugar and salt to protect children during family viewing time and taking action to ensure online restrictions apply to all content watched by children. In addition rules should be extended to cover sponsorship of sports and family attractions and marketing communications in schools”  – Obesity Health Alliance Manifesto, April 2017. Emphasis my own.

    Cheap lager

    Minimum Unit Price of Alcohol. Ok in Scotland and Wales. How about the UK?

    • Low prices lead to increased alcohol consumption and alcohol-related harms
    • The cheapest products are favoured by the heaviest drinkers
    • A minimum unit price will reduce consumption and harms and will do this more effectively and more fairly by targeting the heaviest drinkers

    Congested street

    Have things changed from the ‘90s? This is Liverpool

    People will only turn to cycling in great numbers when there is a significant investment in safe infrastructure.  

    “Doctors should care about cycling, as it’s one of the best preventive health interventions we have. Active commuting, including cycling, is associated with reductions in mortality, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. Body mass index and the percentage of body fat are lower in active commuters …

    And it’s not just the individual cyclist who benefits. Car drivers who switch to a bike will reduce air pollution”.

    Dr Margaret McCartney, BMJ, October 2017

    Go by bike

    Cycle commuting is associated with a lower risk of CVD, cancer, and all cause mortality. Walking commuting was associated with a lower risk of CVD independent of major measured confounding factors.

    Gambling – How has it got to this?

    Gambling sponsors football

    Gambling is a Public Health Issue

    • It was the Labour Party who deregulated gambling in 2005. It has damaged the health of the nation
    • It’s a problem that goes beyond simply dealing with Fixed-Odds Betting Terminals
    • The Gambling Commission estimate that the number of British adults with gambling problems is in excess of 400,000 with a further two million at risk of significant health and social problems
    • Let’s ban shirt sponsorship by gambling companies in football
    • And let’s have a radical overhaul of gambling regulation
    Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790

    Benjamin Franklin 1706-1790

    Prevention demonstrates a substantial RETURN ON INVESTMENT – most published health interventions are substantially COST-SAVING

    Public Health Priorities for Labour – How Far Do You Dare To Reach?

    1. Change the environment so the default option is healthier.  Lay off on the victim blaming!
    2. We must do more to prevent junk food marketing to our kids which in turn fuels childhood obesity
    3. The evidence is there for Minimum Unit Pricing for Alcohol. Please act
    4. Cycling can and should be for everyone but there must be significant  investment outside London
    5. There should be a radical overhaul of gambling regulation

    This was presented at our conference Public Health Priorities for Labour

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    Accountable Care Organisations” are mentioned 18 times in the Cheshire & Merseyside Sustainability and  Transformation Plan with no details or background. Massive reorganisation plans are now surfacing in Warrington, St Helens, and West Cheshire. Management consultants PwC, who helped write the STP itself, are guiding developments.

    Accountable Care is a concept from the US health insurance market. The idea there is that a group of healthcare firms take responsibility for providing care for a given population for a defined period under a contract with a commissioner, such as Medicare. ACOs use market-based mechanisms to lower costs whilst achieving pre-agreed quality outcomes. They ‘align incentives’ between providers and commissioners, sharing any savings between hospitals, doctors and the commissioning Medicare programme itself.

    An earlier version is known as the Health Maintenance Organisation, run by the insurers themselves. It involved routine denial of patients’ access to medically necessary treatment, fighting claims, screening out the sick, paying exorbitant CEO salaries, and systemic fraud. Low rent medical care had considerable hidden costs in top-ups and deductibles.

    Now, the ACOs have healthcare providers in the lead. But the same insurance firms are driving and developing the process. NHS England boss Simon Stevens’ former employer UnitedHealth already has contracts with more than 800 ACOs across the US, and has just launched a national accountable care organization, NexusACO, which will be available to employers in 15 US markets.

    One form of ACO, mentioned in the STP, uses ‘capitated’ or ‘global’ fixed payments to providers for all or most of the care that their patients may require over a contract period, adjusted for severity of illness, and regardless of how many services are offered. Clearly, once the payment is in place, it is open to providers to offer only as much care as required by the contract.

    The specified care needs may not be comprehensive, and the defined patients may not be the geographical population. Indeed, as the Cheshire & Merseyside plan states “Greater focus could be paid on ensuring primary care is at the centre of care models and ACOs are built on GP registered lists.”

    Two models promoted by the Five Year Forward View come straight out of the ACO playbook: the Multispecialty Community Provider, and the Primary and Acute Care System. The MCP, based on primary care in localities and prevention, aims to reduce avoidable hospital admissions. The Cheshire & Merseyside STP states explicitly “In parts of the system there is some ambition to build the ACOs around multispecialty community providers.”

    All ACO plans simply accept the massive NHS funding cuts. They assume that pooling NHS and local authority resources, and expanding new models of care in the community, will justify cutting hospital budgets. The National Audit Office and the Nuffield Trust have recently demolished those assumptions. Warrington ACO

    Warrington has agreed to pool CCG and local authority health and social care budgets, and are “determined to move away from a national tariff-based payment system to a defined capitated budget.”

    The ACO Board will be established by 1 April 2017 with an independent chair and will comprise:

    • Warrington Borough Council (Commissioning)
    • Warrington Borough Council (Provision)
    • NHS Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group
    • Warrington and Halton Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
    • Bridgewater Community Health NHS Foundation Trust
    • Five Boroughs Partnership NHS Foundation Trust
    • Warrington GP representatives

    Board tasks will include designing plans for:

    • Shared accountability and risk share
    • Pooled/aligned budget arrangements.
    • Contractual (and funding) flexibility through agreed contractual arrangements that bind the ACO.
    • Arrangements for commissioning/contracting from the ACO to the health and care market.
    • An appropriate vehicle for delivery.

    Options for the ACO structure include Corporate Joint Venture and (full) Merger, to be determined through an options appraisal workshop.

    St Helens is setting up an “Accountable Care Management System” to involve the CCG, health providers and St Helens Council. It is set to go live in April 2018 and intends to transfer these services from Day 1: Adult Social Services, Children’s Social Services (excluding Youth Justice), Public Health, Community health services, Adult Care Services (excluding maternity), Primary Care, Mental Health Services, Community Safety Services, Community fire safety, Mental health street triage, Victim support services, Probation services, Ambulance. Other services may be added later, and the only permanent exclusions are Youth Justice, Community fire protection, and Road safety.

    St Helens is now asking itself: Will the ACMS compete for tenders as a collective? Will the ACMS itself issue tenders and procure services from others?

    West Cheshire CCG is planning to establish an ACO, whose parties include:

    • NHS West Cheshire Clinical Commissioning Group
    • The Countess of Chester NHS Foundation Trust
    • Cheshire and Wirral NHS Foundation Trust
    • Cheshire East and Chester Council
    • The three West Cheshire primary care localities of Ellesmere Port & Neston, Chester City and Rural

    It will “take a distinct approach to segmenting our GP registered population by risk, around which our plans are based”. It will issue a Memorandum of Understanding between providers, who “have been challenged to advise how they can release a material portion of their existing resources to enable this transformation”. It will also issue a “prospectus”.

    Liverpool Community Health is being broken up and handed to other providers. The biggest single contract is planned as an MCP with Bridgewater Community Health in partnership with the Liverpool GP Federation and Liverpool City Council, whose bid came in £4.6m below the value of the services it would provide. Cuts in back office staff are anticipated. In November, Rosie Cooper MP asked Bridgewater to confirm or deny plans to set-up a joint venture, pooling all budgets to provide all community health and social care from a single company. I don’t know if she got an answer.

    Currently, the plan is on hold as the Care Quality Commission report on Bridgewater, finally released on 6 February, identified serious clinical failures. Liverpool CCG made clear that locality working and partnership with LCC and the GP Federation was their reason for backing the plan, unfazed by the CQC report.

    Bridgewater is part of the Warrington and St Helens plans.

    If it does proceed, the Liverpool MCP may later emerge as all or part of a fully fledged Accountable Care Organisation. The obvious question is, accountable to whom?


    The NHS is supposed to deliver evidence-based medicine, clinicians are educated on that basis, and new treatments are only licensed after passing rigorous trials and cost-benefit analysis. What’s the point to medical school or nurse training if evidence is tossed overboard?

    The St Helens plan purports to list evidence for each of their plans. None of it is referenced. For example “Stand alone telephonic case management has been estimated to reduce admissions by 5%.” Says who? The Nuffield Trust (pp85-6) says there is mixed evidence on case management. Research at the University of Manchester published in 2015 is entitled “Effectiveness of Case Management for ‘At Risk’ Patients in Primary Care: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis”. From the abstract:

    “This was the first meta-analytic review which examined the effects of case management on a wide range of outcomes and considered also the effects of key moderators. Current results do not support case management as an effective model, especially concerning reduction of secondary care use or total costs.”

    St Helens says “Social prescribing has saved Newcastle West CCG an estimated £2 – £7 million”. This is actually the Ways to Wellness programme which started in 2015 and runs for 7 years. It hasn’t been evaluated yet. Nuffield describes it as a “large scale trial”. The actual savings it will achieve are, at this stage, only projected.

    Warrington says “Evidence shows that proactive planning using risk stratification is a key tool to improving outcomes”. Again, no reference for that. The Nuffield review found risk stratification tools still struggle to identify ‘at risk’ individuals at the point before they deteriorate.

    A virtual ward is a model of home-based multidisciplinary care based on the idea of a hospital ward. Intended to avoid emergency admission or readmission, patients are typically identified using a risk stratification tool. As Nuffield reported, an evaluation of three NHS virtual wards targeting patients at risk of admission found no reduction in emergency hospital admissions in the six months after admission to the ward, but it did find a decrease in elective admissions and outpatient attendances. There was no reduction in overall hospital costs.

    Private sector

    The private sector are directly involved in formulating the ACO plans. Notorious management consultants PwC, formerly PriceWaterhouseCooper, were paid £300k for their work on the Cheshire & Merseyside STP. They were advisors on 17 other STPs. They are involved in plans for ACOs in Tameside, Wigan, Manchester City, Oldham, Cheshire, St Helens, Hounslow and Richmond, Northumbria, Mid-Nottinghamshire, and Croydon. The Northumbria plan, intended as the first ACO in the UK, has been postponed indefinitely as the CCG is £41m in deficit.

    West Cheshire CCG appointed PwC to undertake an initial ‘due diligence’ phase. The consultancy also convened three workshops for the parties to the ACO.

    In St Helens, the Project Management Office is “supported and challenged by PwC”. PwC has input into the proposals for Governance, IT, Business Intelligence, Communications and Engagement. A Workstream stakeholder reference group has Specialist /practitioner input from three people, two of whom are PwC staff.

    The private sector can also be involved in the Governance structures themselves. In St Helens, the leadership is currently with a People’s Board, including the Council and NHS providers, but also the Community Rehabilitation Company and Helena Partnerships. Helena are a housing management group which took over former council housing. The CRC is a privatised probation service, 75% owned by Interserve, a facilities management company with PFI and other health service contracts.

    The private sector is also funding new models of care. The Newcastle Ways to Wellness programme is an outcomes-based contract funded through a Social Investment Bond which includes £1.65m from Bridges Social Sector Funds. Bridges Fund Management describes itself as “Capital that makes a difference”.

    The End Game

    The implications for wages, terms and conditions of NHS staff when employers merge across care sectors under PwC guidance, with local structures which will threaten national agreements, are immediate. Looking further ahead, no private company is big enough to buy the whole NHS. But once the STP plans are implemented and ACOs are established across England, health transnationals will see discrete local systems with budgets of £1bn or less, with structures compatible with the US health insurance market. They could be bought and sold.

    Theresa May is adamant that the NHS will remain free at the point of use. Even if that’s true, a big if, she does not mean a comprehensive, universal service, with decisions on treatment made according to clinical need, publicly provided, publicly accountable, funded out of general taxation. That’s what we’re fighting for.


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    With thanks to John Brace, here is a video of the full discussion of the Cheshire and Merseyside Sustainability and Transformation Plans by Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board yesterday – includes contributions from Mayor Joe Anderson, Sam Semoff, Alex Scott-Samuel and Tony Mulhearn

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    “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death,” Bill Shankly, Liverpool FC’s manager between 1959 and 1974, once said. “I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”. Now imagine the newspaper headlines if at the end of the football season three of the biggest English football clubs – Manchester City, Everton and Liverpool – were relegated from the league. If football were really a matter of life and death, this is exactly what would happen.

    We put together a public health league table which ranks the areas local to the 2014-15 Premier League football clubs from best to worst using key health indicators with a corresponding code: the percentage of smokers (P, played); weight – percentage of obesity and overweight (W, won); deaths – all cause mortality rates per 100.000 (D, drawn); life expectancy for males in years (L, lost); female life expectancy in years (F, for); alcohol-related hospital admissions per 100,000 (A, against); and the gap or difference in life expectancy for men between the most and least deprived areas of the local authority in years (GD, goal difference).

    The final league points represent the sum of ranks for each outcome. For example, Chelsea’s league-winning score of 114 points comes from ranking second for P, first for W, D, L, F, and A and last for GD.

    Public Health League

    While Chelsea would still be winners in the public health league table, Crystal Palace, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspurs would join them in the top four, with West Ham in fifth place. As the bottom three in the table, Manchester City, Everton and Liverpool are all relegated.

    The data we used came from PHE Outcomes Framework Data, the Office for National Statistics and the Public Health Observatory Wales. Premier League clubs were geo-referenced to the local area with which they are most associated, so Manchester United’s data, for example, is for Trafford Council, Chelsea FC is represented by data from the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and Swansea is represented by data from the local health board (although the Wales average had to be used for the alcohol variable). Liverpool and Everton have the same data as their grounds, Anfield and Goodison,are located in the same local authority.

    Life expectancies

    Apart from throwing up some unusual league places, the league table also further demonstrates the extent of the north-south divide in health in England: the top half of the table is dominated by southern clubs and the relegated trio are all from the north-west. To those working in public health, this will not be surprising as the cities of Liverpool and Manchester have some of the worst health outcomes in the country. The contrast between winners Chelsea and relegated Manchester City in terms of life expectancy is immense at seven years for men and six years for women.

    The PHLT also demonstrates the local health inequalities that exist within our towns and cities. So while Manchester United place in the top four, their “noisy neighbours” Manchester City are relegated. Life expectancy for men and women on the red side of Greater Manchester is four years higher than for those on the blue side – only a couple of miles down the road. This is probably related to the stark differences on these two sides of the same city in terms of economic deprivation with, for example, child poverty rates of 34% for Manchester City Council compared to 14% in Trafford.

    Manchester death league

    Even within local authorities there are high inequalities in life chances with, for example, a 14-year gap in male life expectancy between the most and least deprived areas of Chelsea.

    The north-south health divide, local health inequalities, and inequalities within local authorities are a serious public health concern – to the extent that they were the subject of Due North, the first Public Health England commissioned independent review in 2014. This report recommended a number of ways in which central and local government and the voluntary sector and the NHS could help reduce these health divides. The league table is another way of showing these divisions and raising awareness of the inequalities in “life and death” that exist in our country today.

    This was first published on The Conversation

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