The Network – A Sign of The Times?

BNI money in motion

Now we all know there are charities that do good work and in an era of depleted public services it is often essential and vital work in support of the most vulnerable people in society. Nevertheless we have to say some of them seem to operate along the same principles as our self-serving and dysfunctional public services with over-inflated salaries to match – but with the added sickly ingredient of self-righteousness.

Consider if you will the case study below involving a Merseyside-wide charity to which we invite those in the know to comment on the allegations and concerns that have been brought to our attention . Although we understand if a certain Wirral councillor declines to do so as they got themselves into a bit of bother the last time that happened.

However personalities aside – our interest is particularly aroused by mention of a networking group called BNI ( Business Network International) . Now our regular readers will know how we have often railed against nepotism, favouritism , cronyism – that often masquerades as ‘networking’. We’ve often asked questions about the role of Common Purpose , the Knights of St Columba , Freemasons and ‘The Inner Ring’ (about which more another time) – anything that might explain some of the appalling things that local politicians and public servants seem to be able to get away with . However BNI is a whole new (and a rather worrying development) for us . It’s like Wirral Chamber of Commerce on steroids. Whilst we understand that schmoozers and shysters can see the appeal we do question as to whether charities should be mixed up in such arrangements – as they appear to scream all kinds of conflict of interest (see below). For more background information read here : Making More Money with BNI

The Chair of a Merseyside-wide charity is/was also part of a networking group called BNI which is a referral based organisation, allowing businesses to network and pass each other referrals generating business for themselves and making their chapter wealthy.  If you’re not regularly passing referrals to each other, BNI can remove you from the Chapter and cancel your membership.
The Chair joined the charity as a board member and at the time heavily criticised the then CEO (name provided) .  The Chair over time recruited more board members for the charity all of those being BNI members/friends.  Which meant that when it came down to a majority vote, all BNI members stuck together meaning all the votes went in their favour (when choosing suppliers which would benefit themselves, when choosing whether or not to get rid of the CEO etc).
In March/April 2017 ,the board decided to recruit a new CEO. The chair influenced this and used a recruiting company via BNI (at the charity’s expense using public funding and a referral point for the Chair  to advertise for a new CEO. During the interview process the current CEO  applied and got the position. We later found out that a recruiting Board member and the chair knew the successful candidate . The person who was appointed CEO actually the recruiting member’s boss for another company (name provided) . They declared they knew them – but not to that extent. Another board member ( a non BNI member  – name provided)  left the room stating that they would have no part in this staged interview 
Whilst this was going on, the former CEO (name provided) had grounds for unfair dismissal and was paid £10,000 to keep quiet.  This was taken out of public funding by Wirral and Liverpool Council.  Funding which could have been used elsewhere for the beneficiaries of this charity . So £10,000 was used to get the chair’s mate into a job leaving members of the charity  £10,000 short of public funding.
Since the new CEO has taken over, he has removed anyone that does not agree with them on the Board.  Members on the Board are backed into a corner and almost bullied into agreeing with the BNI members. The recruiting Board member has been paid by the charity for telecommunication services which is not the cheapest service. The CEO is using the charity (and their public funding) to secure contracts to further his own private business.  They are currently trying to acquire a company car through the charity (another liability for the charity).  Even though there are staff that are using their own cars to fulfil their job roles.  The Board are asked to provide 3 quotes for anything that they require.  Generally out of the 3 quotes they will choose the most expensive quote as it is a ‘friend’.
The Chair and the BNI board members will take all of the money from this Charity maybe get as many referrals as they can to keep face in their BNI groups, then move on to another struggling charity.
I am unsure if the Chair and the recruiting member are still apart of BNI but I feel something is going on behind the scenes that staff and I are not aware of.  An incompetent CEO is now in full control of public funding from Wirral, Liverpool and Sefton Council and directing any funding towards themselves , their friends, their business, the Chair’s charity and not services for people for whom the charity was set up. Using phrases like ‘if they don’t support us, we won’t support them’ (referring to the people who access our services funded by local councils and don’t buy into his mates businesses e.g transport services to airports, energy companies and their tariffs etc.  They are bringing in consultants which are friends at £250 per day to ‘sort out’ ‘the Charity’.  Again, a fee which is taken from public funding.
Anything you find please keep us updated.  We are lead to believe we are paranoid but a lot of things just do not add up and we’re becoming more and more suspicious.  It is almost like they want us to lose the public funding so the Chair can take those contracts for their own charity.  Do you think it is suspicious?
To which we can only reply : hell , yes!

STP – Slash, Trash and Privatise


‘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:

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  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 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…”


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.