Good Health In Bad Hands

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Apologies for the delay in publishing this but it landed in our spam. This is feedback from the Defend Our NHS (DONHS) Wirral meeting that we previously plugged. 

In the mean time it seems that local politicians have been belatedly gegging in on the action , most particularly in relation to the now ‘temporary’ closure of Eastham NHS Walk-in centre. This week’s Adult Care Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee was a humdinger with NHS head honchoes – Simon Banks ( NHS Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group) and Karen Howell ( Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust) getting a good mauling.

Acting chair  Cllr Moira ‘Matron’ McLaughlin took the opportunity to say that it was “important that the decision-makers are held to account.” Yes, those words actually came out of her mouth. My, how we laughed. And then we cried such bitter tears.

She also took the opportunity to plug a prospective Labour councillor who had organised (yet another) petition.  We note that campaigning for next year’s local elections has already started then !

However more concerning for us was an issue that received  zero press coverage and caused considerably less outrage among councillors and that was the closure of  Thorn Heys, an NHS respite service for people with learning disabilities and mental health needs.  Somebody remind us what was that Wirral Plan ‘pledge’ about ‘protecting the most vulnerable’ again?

What is most apparent is that ‘partnership’ working between Wirral Council and its NHS counterparts is not what it should be – the power struggles and the safeguarding of ever diminishing budgets was there for all to see – although of course some highly paid public servants and consultants still seem to be doing okay out of it ! As ever the only people to suffer are those who pay for what appears the deliberate (?) and ongoing (mis)managed decline of a once great institution !

Dear friends of the NHS

Are you angry? The packed audience at our public meeting on Thursday were angry. But they were also full of ideas for the fight back to defend our NHS. There was a spirited and constructive discussion after superb inputs from national campaigner Steve Carne and from a number of local campaigns on our own patch.

Why are people angry? Read the list below* and then come back here.

Are you angry yet? You should be. And if you are you can do something! This is what Thursday’s meeting decided. You can do some or all the following now.

  1. Let us have email addresses of others who might want to join the fight.
  2. Read AND act upon AND share the ‘to do’ list (in the ‘Files’ section on our Facebook page and attached to this message):https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/files/
  3. Come along to the many NHS meetings and protests (some on the ‘to do’ list but starting with the Eastham event on Monday detailed below). Some important events are shown. PLEASE COME!
  4. Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth will be in Eastham to meet with members and people affected by the closure.
    If you are available, and if you know anyone who is concerned about the closure, please bring them along.
    When? Monday September 11, 2017 at 11am – 1pm. Where? St David’s united reform church Eastham Wirral ch62 9dg
  5. STOP THE STP! Wirral Council has the power – and has already said it opposes the STP. Why doesn’t it do it? Wednesday 13th September 6.00pm at Wallasey Town Hall. Let’s make this the biggest lobby ever! Arrive early! http://democracy.wirral.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=819&MId=6118&Ver=4
  6. Attend the Wirral CCG AGM @Tranmere Rovers 28th September from 1.00pmhttps://www.wirralccg.nhs.uk/news/wirral-ccgs-annual-general-meeting-2017/ It’s the CCG which has the local purse strings and makes the cuts.
  7. Share your experiences on Facebook or by email.

Thanks and best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS

…………………………………………………………………………………………

* That list:

  • The closure at short notice last week of the Eastham NHS walk-in centre.
  • The simultaneously announced end of the Eastham-Arrowe Park bus service.
  • The ‘pilot’ closure of the Clatterbridge dermatology ward.
  • A further near ONE BILLION POUNDS of cuts in the pipeline for Cheshire & Merseyside.
  • The payment of £300,000 to Price Waterhouse Cooper to compile the list of cuts to be made locally.
  • The payment across England of £21 MILLION POUNDS to firms like PwC for similar ‘work’.
  • The news that PwC and other ‘tax management’ outfits are being given the job of organising NHS service commissioning.
  • All this part of the 44 awful ‘sustainability and transformation partnerships’ (STP) including one here in Cheshire & Merseyside.
  • The STPs and everything else above comes from the brain of the head of NHS England Simon Stevens who now effectively controls the whole of our NHS. (Jeremy Hunt has washed his hands, Pontius Pilate-style.)
  • The revelation that Simon Stevens came to the NHS from US health ‘corporation’ United Healthcare.
  • The revelations of the anti-patient and anti-doctor business behaviour of United while Stevens was a boss.
  • EVERY local council has rejected the STP. Wirral Council has the power to stop the STP in its tracks and voiced its opposition last December – BUT it took the leader of the Council, Phil Davies, EIGHT MONTHS to write the letter to Jeremy Hunt.
  • Meanwhile the cuts have got worse, the waiting lists longer, the appointments harder to get, the adverts for American-style health services appear on GP notice boards – yet wonderful NHS staff continue to offer a fantastic service despite all this and despite years of effective pay cuts.

 

 

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Bank Holiday Bulletin Board

With His Lord and Ladyship still on what the latter lamentably calls a ‘vacay’ the faithful retainers at Leaky Towers have been asked to publicise the following in their absence.

Firstly we’ve been asked to give 2 local petitions some exposure:

https://www.change.org/p/wirral-council-stop-development-on-bidston-hill?utm_source=embedded_petition_view

The so called “LEISURE PENINSULA ” council want to sell off  land Bidston Hill for housing
The decision of no government funding to re-build NEW FERRY – central government may be selective when it comes to funding such disasters but from what we’ve seen we  have to say Wirral Council don’t seem to be cognizant about how such disaster funding actually works.
Secondly here’s a reminder and further news about the Defend Our NHS Wirral meeting on September 7th

Leaflet3 August 2017Dear friends of the NHS

This is to remind you of our public meeting in Birkenhead on Thursday 7th September.

We’re pleased to say that we will be joined by national campaigner Steve Carne talking about the STPs and NHS reinstatement.

The need to share information and alert the public is ever more urgent. Please circulate this message and the attachment. The NHS is on its knees and we need to fight desperately to save it.

Please see the revised notice for the meeting, which is attached, and this welcome news below from the Latest edition of Private Eye. The STPs are now called in true George Orwell style ‘sustainability and transformation partnerships’. ‘And’, by the way, is the only word in that title which does not mean the opposite of what it says:

·      ‘Sustainable’ = slashed budgets and services.

·      ‘Transformed’ = cut, demoralised and damaged beyond recognition.

·      ‘Partnership’ = developed in secret, operating in secret, condemned by local councils, a total lack of public/patient consultation, and the only happy partners are Richard Branson and a series of US ‘healthcos’.

 The STPs must be stopped, opposed, reversed and the damage undone.

We look forward to seeing you at the meeting, to which ALL Wirral councillors and MPs are being invited.

Best wishes on behalf of DONHS

More about STPs? http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/home/4593142849

More about DONHS? https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/

Leaflet3 August 20172

Public Service Announcement : Defend Our NHS (DONHS) Meetings

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Published on behalf of DONHS Wirral are details of upcoming meetings and the following message :

We will be inviting Wirral councillors and all four Wirral MPs.

The focus of the meeting will be the local STP – now officially called a ‘sustainability and transformation partnership’  

Some partnership! It doesn’t include patients , STPs generally are not engaging or collaborating with GPs

(let alone the public), and 80% of councillors thought STPs were “not fit for purpose” and “prioritised cost-cutting and closing hospitals over preventing illness”.

The reality of the STP is the dismnatling of our NHS. Campaigners have been warning about this for years. Every day we see the headlines.

Wirral Council voted overwhelmingly in December to oppose the local version of ‘slash, trash and privatise’ and to write a letter of protest to the government. We have no evidence that the letter was sent or a reply received. And now the leader of the Council says  “I don’t see any sign that STPs are going away,…” Some opposition!…

Come and join us – and join our campaign to share information about what’s happening  and to OPPOSE the STP.

(Talking of opposition : did you write to your councillors and MPs as we urged you last month? Where do you send them? It’s easy – simply click here and adapt the draft letter attached . Thank you! http://www.writetothem.com/  

Best wishes on behalf of DONHS

More about STPs? http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/home/4593142849

More about DONHS? https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/

 

 

STP – Slash, Trash and Privatise

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‘Defend the NHS – Wirral’ and ‘999 Call For The NHS’ have contacted us to share their concerns about ‘Sustainability & Transformation Partnerships’ (STP). Of course we’re suspicious of anything with ‘Transformation’ in the title. And certainly anything touched by the dead hand of Wirral Council leader Cllr Phil ‘Power Boy Pip’ Davies.

Therefore we proudly present a crash course kindly provided by the above pressure groups as to why we all need to be concerned about  STPs.

The STPs are the vehicle to ‘slash, trash and privatise’. You can find all the gory details here:http://www.stopthestps.org.uk/mad-as-hell/4593267514

The story of Wirral Council’s leader and his steps from willing participant to Damascene conversion to unconversion along the road to health and well-being (taken from published minutes inter alia).

Step 1: 9th March 2016 Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“The Board discussion included a focus on: How the Wirral Plan and 20 Pledges related to the work of the Board; How the Plan related to the emerging NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan; and How the Board could add value to help deliver more effective and efficient partnership working to achieve our priorities.

The Board agreed that a follow up discussion was required to understand and agree, within the Wirral Plan and emerging strategies:- Which strategies were top priorities for the Board; and Which strategies does the Board wish to; Lead; Influence; or be kept informed – included in Figure 1 of the report.

To help inform the follow up discussion, the report brought together some supporting information. This aimed to draw out the strategic linkages between the draft Health and Wellbeing Strategy and the Wirral Plan in order to help partners agree the future focus, priorities and strategic direction for the Board. 

Councillor Phil Davies cautioned against duplicating work and suggested the focus be on how, as a Board, members could add value to the whole agenda.”

Step 2: 13th July Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

“Jon Develing, Chief Officer, Wirral CCG presented the report to brief members of the Health and Well Being Board on sustainability and transformation plans for Cheshire and Mersey and how this would be informed by a local delivery services plan for Wirral….…Members welcomed the report and agreed it would be a good framework and focus for the Health and Wellbeing Board with helpful ties to the Wirral 20:20 Plan.
Resolved – That the development of the Healthy Wirral Local Delivery System Plan and the mechanism by which this will feed into the wider development of the Cheshire and Mersey STP be noted and endorsed.”

Step 3: 16th November Health & Wellbeing Board. Phil Davies in the chair.

This is the day the STP was officially published. Board papers included the milestones and timetable for the Sustainability and Transformation Plans and associated operational plan. Apparently glitches on the CCG web site were disrupting further dissemination. Item 4 on the agenda was the sustainability and transformation plan (STP) and a verbal report from Graham Hodkinson, Director for Health & Care. Councillor Davies refused both to take the item and to allow any questions or comments from the audience. The exchange is available on video via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eTvIQwwwUWw  about two minutes in.

Step 4: Wirral Globe 21st November

Sit down before you read this…Leader of Wirral Council Phil Davies says: “we are extremely unhappy that elected members and officers have not been involved in the process of producing STPs and we will not sign up to any of the proposals until we have had an opportunity to discuss the contents of the STP and effective arrangements put in place to engage our residents.”  READERS FALL OVER IN AMAZEMENT…

Step 5: November: Angela Eagle, MP for Wallasey (Wirral) statement:

”Yesterday I sat down with Phil Davies, leader of Wirral Borough Council, to discuss the Tory government’s plans for a billion pound in cuts to our local NHS. These cuts threaten the future of acute care across the whole of the Wirral. It became clear very quickly that the plans are yet another top-down set of cuts and reorganisations, imposed by the arrogant Tory government, on the Wirral, and that neither Phil nor I have had any say on the plans at all. It is wrong for the Government to act in complete defiance and without any consultation with local people, workers and their representatives. Sign our petition today at www.savewirralnhs.com to register your concerns.”

Step 6: 28th November Wirral People Overview Scrutiny Committee:

Rejected the Cheshire & Merseyside STP.

The plan was also rejected by Cheshire West and Chester Health and Wellbeing Board on 16th November, by Sefton Council on 17th November, and by the Liverpool Health and Wellbeing Board on 1st December. These have all been widely reported. Knowsley Council have joined the opposition.

Step 7: December 2016 full Council meeting:

 “agrees to write to the Secretary of State for Health and call on the government to withdraw these Plans immediately with a view to holding urgent discussions with key partners, including local Councils, on how good quality health and social care services can be provided going forward [sic] based on continuing to provide a National Health Service which is properly funded and free at the point of need.”  

There is no evidence that the letter was written or a reply received.

Step 8: July 2017 Phil Davies writes:

“I don’t see any sign that STPs are going away, although they have been re-badged as Five Year Forward View Delivery Plans. Locally, we have committed to integrated commissioning, and that naturally leads to the question of how the providers are going to respond.  There have been a series of workshops, led by Price Waterhouse Cooper (PWC), to explore what our view is about accountable care on Wirral.  What has come out of that is that there are a number of options, ranging from a single ‘organisation’ through to an ‘alliance of providers’ and a couple of stops in between.  The very strong view currently expressed by the providers (and that includes the GPs) is that they do not want a single Accountable Care Organisation, so we are talking about an Accountable Care System…”

Meanwhile…

The cuts have already started – Wirral CCG ran something called a ‘consultation exercise’ late in 2016. It’s part of the STP but they don’t say that too loudly. And it asked the public for their opinions on proposals to cut a whole list of medical services. [And they’ve already been ending contracts for valuable work.]

So, rather than simple clinical decisions, the public were invited to vote in some kind of treatment beauty contest. People in other parts of the country are being asked to vote on different lists. The local NHS is becoming a postcode lottery.

Meanwhile the cuts have been happening for years because we and the NHS are being ROBBED.

Last year US drug giant Pfizer increasing the price of 100mg packs of an anti-epilepsy drug from £2.83 to £67.50.

We are being robbed by the PFI (private finance initiative) – hospitals built and then leased back to the NHS at eye-watering rates of interest, often by firms which also blacklist trade unionists.

And it’s happening close to home. Not many Wirral residents know that 20 of their local GPs are in cahoots with Richard Branson. Yes, the tax ‘avoider’ Richard Branson runs Virgin Care – and they are in a surgery near you. It’s not a huge contract BUT Branson is biding his time until the NHS collapses and he and his collaborators are asked to pick up the pieces and run a service on the cheap ‘in the community’.

We’re being robbed by accountancy firms like Price Waterhouse Cooper, brought in and paid £300,000 by the Cheshire & Merseyside STP to identify where the STP can make cuts.

Most of all we’re being robbed by the madness of running something we never used to have – an NHS market. Thousands of managers, administrators, lawyers, accountants, inspectors, regulators employed simply to oil the wheels of awarding contracts to private firms. Privatisation does NOT save money. The cost of running the NHS commissioning ‘market’ takes about 15% of the total budget.

So hospital waiting lists get longer and you can’t get an appointment with your GP despite the fantastic efforts of NHS doctors, nurses, paramedics and other staff whose wages have been frozen and whose conditions get worse. Medicines previously available on free prescription now have to be bought.

Why? Not because we need to ‘save’ money. The NHS is almost the cheapest health service in the developed world.

So why the problems?

Because there have already been billions and billions of pounds worth of cuts.

Because of the robberies listed.

Because staff aren’t been recruited and trained.

But most of all because this government WANTS to destroy the NHS and force us into some US-style insurance scheme.

That’s the emergency in brief.

 

Transformers 2

We need to thank our lucky stars that Wirral Council ‘leader’ ( ha!ha!ha!) Cllr Phil Davies aka Power Boy Pip yesterday authorised a Wirral representative to attend a ‘Transformation’ beano in Manchester today.

Unfortunately that representative was his namesake Cllr Angela Davies.

Although it must be said that whilst ‘Our Ange’ knows all about the ‘public sector transformational journey’, it would appear she didn’t like it much. Whilst working for the NHS she was quite happy to enjoy the transformation of the drug and alcohol services over into the private sector in the guise of ‘Crime Reduction Initiatives/ Change, Grow, Live’ but then it all got a bit messy for the poor lass. And whilst she was quick to criticise her new employer on the QT she soon hotfooted back to secure employment within the  NHS when she realised just exactly how they meant to ‘transform’ services.

And so the moral of this story would appear to be that ‘transformation’ is alright for us plebs but not for those with a secure pension plan – and the opportunity to enjoy free lunch and refreshments at the Manchester Hilton!

Everything Must Go

FLOG-IT

The mystery of why the privatisation of public services has been embraced  so enthusiastically by the current Wirral Council administration – despite it being ideologically against everything a Labour administration should stand for – has puzzled us for sometime.

However we had a Homer Simpson ” D’oh” moment  when we realised exactly why outsourcing is the perfect solution for an organisation wracked  with incompetence , dishonesty and corruption.

Consider this :

  • No more Freedom of Information requests – it’s commercially sensitive and exempt from FOI legislation !
  • No  more whistleblowers  – malpractice has nothing to do with us guv!
  • No more direct public accountability – private businesses become accountable to their shareholders and profit always takes precedence over the public !

Now consider these recent Wirral Council tenders. Firstly :

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Now wouldn’t it be handy if the Wirral Chamber of Commerce continued their empire building ways by bidding for this contract at Cheshire Lines Building ?. They’re only round the corner and Chief Executive Princess Paula  Basnett could send one of her rellies in to keep an eye on facilities. Win- Win !.

Meanwhile another source asks us about a tender that has gone well under the radar. Wirral Council have outsourced their cash in transit services to G4S based in Bootle, they gave the long serving and loyal staff no notice of this decision and they  didn’t even know their jobs had been put out to tender !.

This service was actually in profit and apparently G4S are the costliest cash services provider around . As the council are in such a financial mess it would seem a very odd choice if you didn’t consider the position we have set out above

However by far and away the most intriguing is this “Due Diligence” tender for consultants to cross the i’s and dot the t’s when it comes  “to the integration of Adult Social Care services into NHS Community Services” .

 

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Wirral Council leadership must be licking their lips in anticipation at the prospect of finally offloading the toxic , dysfunctional and perennially overspent Department of Adult Social Services onto the NHS.

If it does go ahead we can only hope that the provision of Adult Social Care services adhere to the principles of the NHS and that they should be free at the point of delivery.

This should mean no more punitive charges should be placed on vulnerable people for essential services – but you can bet your life that when it comes to “due diligence” that the consultants will be asked to find a way to continue with these charges.

We shall be observing developments with great interest and we advise those who believe that public services do not belong in private hands should do the same.

Green Leaves?

APH-NO-EVOL

We understand that a certain Sue Green, head of HR has recently left the employment of Wirral’s other most prominent employer after Wirral Council  – Wirral University Teaching Hospital (WUTH) as it now fancifully likes to call itself.  On the Wirral rather like North Korea (which apparently has a better life expectancy than certain parts of the Wirral )  people seem to disappear overnight! Not only is no explanation given, it is frowned upon when people ask perfectly reasonable questions.  Those who do dare raise issues meet a wall of silence or glib corporate fudges about ‘confidentiality.’

This of course completes a notable family double after the departure of Mrs Green’s universally loved and much admired other half – Dave ‘Del Boy’ Green from Wirral Council. It is also somewhat serendipitous given the fact that DG is rumoured to have found ‘gainful’ employment again, beyond the confines of the insular Peninsula. Let’s hope there’s a nice local golf club at hand.

Now we don’t know the full circumstances of really happened, or whether this was about the appalling lack of staffing in the hospital because APH’s Department of spin is essentially as communicative as a brickwall, but without the warmth.  However, we are always suspicious when the Chief Executive of WUTH (David Allison) circulates the following type of message to APH’s inmates on the ocassion Sue Green was first absent from work .

Here are some highlights, which rather than enlighten, one feels would baffle employees at the hospital.

“I am writing to advise you of a situation that is likely to appear in the media in respect of this Trust’s Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development

 As with any employee of our Trust, we would not comment on circumstances related to their employment. We therefore intend to issue a response to this effect.

 My purpose of advising you of this situation is that I felt it would be inappropriate for you to learn about it in the first instance via the media.”

 Clear?  Well actually no !
What is particularly curious is that no such story ever appeared or was followed up , no doubt due to some spectacular stonewalling, and Mrs.Green was eventually allowed to quietly disappear from public view and quite possibly as seems to be the trend in that particular household, clutching a big fat wad of public money ( one for devoted Freedom of Information fans to follow up).

From leaks that have been received about this case we at Leaky Towers can only hope that :

a) The media wasn’t being used in this sorry saga as a  bargaining tool rather than serving the public interest.

b) That Mr.Allison is aware that only last week a group of MPs hit out at “outrageous” examples of public bodies apparently paying employees to keep quiet about problems.The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) highlighted that so called “gagging clauses” have been used to cover up serious failures in organisations such as the NHS….and indeed we understand that some of the recommendations were based on a number of cases in the public sector and a particular case involving Wirral Council!

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news/confidentiality-clauses-por/