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Date(s) - 08.06.2012


Durham University


Socialist Health Association  in partnership with Labour Left and Durham University Labour Students


Reclaiming our National Health Service future policies & current action

Grahame Morris M.P.

Prof Clare  Bambra

David Taylor-Gooby

contact Val Hudson valhud2000@yahoo.co.uk tel 07590849333


Bookings are closed for this event.

One Comment

  1. socadmin says:

    Notes by Val Hudson

    On the 8th June 2012, Durham University Student Labour Club hosted a very successful Durham and Tees Valley second Labour Left (LL) meeting, in partnership with the Socialist Health Association. (SHA) Over 40 people attended including many councillors. Below is a summary of the discussion and highlighted are possible points for action. A full version is available from valhud2000@yahoo.co.uk

    The meeting was chaired by Bob Hudson standing in for Roberta Blackman Woods MP for Durham City, who had to leave early to chair another constituency event.

    Harry Cross, a Durham University student and member of L.L. gave a rousing welcome. He argued that the ideas of the left had been an historical curiosity for decades, but that Neo- Liberalism is now defunct. The Coalition’s attack on public institutions like the NHS has shown we need radical and ethical alternatives. Harry said he was delighted the DULC was hosting the meeting, & hoped some of the barriers in a University like Durham would be broken down allowing ideas to blossom among new generation of students.
    Grahame Morris MP for Easington, Chair of Labour Left and member of the SHA & in the unique position of being on the Select Committee and the Public Bill Committee, talked about how positive he feels that the ideas of the left are resonating in the mind of the public. The Tory mantra is wearing thin, and we have to capitalise on that. Grahame outlined what he saw as the main risks of the Act. These are:
    1. Financial. Concerns about the motivation of GP. and whether the services they commission will reflect needs of our community .E.g. Kent has secured a 16 acre site to build a private hospital borrowing £50m to do so GP consortia coming together and prepared to take on debt because they know the taxpayer will pick up Bill
    2. Risk of fragmentation of services trusts coming together pooling all depts. Much more difficult for private companies to use European law to take over an integrated service than services that are fragmented.
    3. Anecdotal threat of bullying of staff, examples from private sector companies. Serco in Cornwall routinely bullying staff. All credit to Unite and particularly Unison for highlighting this
    4. Downgrading of staff e.g. medical sect. grades for medical secretaries in Sunderland Royal being advertised for less now than in 2005. Strike West Midlands downgrading work in secure unit by £14000
    5. FIOs- Private companies do not have to respond. No protection for whistle-blowers.
    6. Comprehensive treatments coming under threat things done routinely no longer treatable on NHS
    7. Threat to hospital infrastructure.

    What can we do?
    1. Point made in Bob Hudson’s article right. Put more flesh on repealing the 49% cap. Stop GPs commissioning from selves. reframe role Monitor. Very least we can expect is that our hospital trusts are immune from competition law. Let’s have a dialogue with Hollande!
    2. We need a system of radar so we can pool information and identify services at risk. Challenge the fitness of some of these private sector providers
    3. Health and Well Being Boards. Already established in shadow form. Make up prescribed by law but opportunity to influence decisions. Charged with producing Strategic Needs Assessment looks at health needs whole population. Use the 3 elected members where Labour + Director Public Health to make sure Joint needs Assessments are being done

    Professor Clare Bambra from Durham University and a member of L.L. and the SHA talked about her recent expose of Lansley’s attempts to shift finances. Currently health resources to an area are based on
    • Age of population in an area
    • Levels of poverty
    • Health needs existing population
    • Costs of healthcare e.g. to have a hospital in London compared to Durham
    In a speech in April Lansley said he wanted to have age as the major determinant. Clare looked at money allocated last financial year and did analysis to show what would happen if took what Lansley said literally. She also looked at how people voted. In NE we would lose more than £250 per person per year, The South East would gain nearly £200 per person. Thanks to support from Labour Party & good media coverage, the government said never been intention of reallocation of resources, and whether this was the case or not it now won’t happen. Clare outlined the key issues:
    • To what extent is NHS the next target?
    • What would it mean for the NE, any shift would mean less money?
    • What is a LL alternative. No denying pressures on the NHS. But what might be an alternative LL and Labour view?
    • How can we influence Labour Party policy?

    David Taylor Gooby a member of L.L. and the SHA & a lay member of the shadow Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) spoke about the need to define what we want from our health care, the most important principles of the NHS are:
    • Something owned by us, and run by us. Is it run by us currently?
    • Something that addresses health inequalities? Might argue can’t get rid of them, but we could reduce them and that might be what we want. We see health as a collective thing of the good of society because that is what socialism is all about.

    David talked about the Healthworks Project in Easington that has helped reduce inequalities It’s aim is pre-distribution, giving the working classes the power to try and avoid inequality. Healthworks, was set up by Easington Council and Durham CC.& is a centre is run by local people. It concentrates on healthy activities to help people get a job,. It builds up confidence . But there is concern this will not be seen as a CCG priority.

    Grahame Morris had to leave early so took questions after his talk, but for the subsequent discussion the Panel was joined by Martin Rathfelder national director of the Socialist Health Association. Building on the risks and possible actions highlighted by Grahame the following themes emerged :

    1 . What do we mean by our NHS & what do we want it to be – something that cures or something that prevents people getting ill?
    2. How we can get Local Authorities and the NHS working in a more integrated preventative way to deal with inequalities, as there is a realisation the NHS cannot do it all ?
    3.There is a fear that CCG’s will commission for what they know about rather than what communities need and that some areas like mental health will get little or no recognition, and community based organisations like Healthworks will disappear because of lack of funding
    4..The advantages, or otherwise local authorities will gain from taking over public health
    5. The role of Health and Well Being Boards and the influence Labour Councillors might have on these, and why there is a disparity on their openness as in Middlesbrough
    6. As Labour Left and Socialist Health organisations what do we want the next Labour government to be, transformational in repealing the whole Act like Andy Burnham suggests or transactional like Ed Milliband seems to be suggesting & only tinkering with parts ?

    In the meantime we must do what we can to expose the destruction of our NHS and in addition to Grahame Morris’s suggestions we should:
    • Lobby patient representative on Clinical Commissioning Groups to ensure they are taking up the issues outlined above
    • Join patient forums at GP practices, these are physical or virtual and some have said they may be able to influence CCG decisions
    • Join Foundation Trusts as lay members. The more lay members the more possibility of governors to influence decision making.
    • Bring home messages to the public about what is happening to our NHS e.g. through market and street stalls. We need to bring the message home that if we don’t act, a first thing you will be asked when you visit a doctor is, ‘can you afford to pay for your treatment?’

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