DON’T WALK ON BY – Defend Our NHS: Wirral walk-in centre scandal

Here’s the latest from our friends at Defend Our NHS. Misleading local press reports?   You don’t say!

 

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Dear friends of the NHS

We have some very bad news.

Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group board members (CCG) have decided to CLOSE two local walk-in centres.

They have ignored the protests of:

  • 45,000 petitioners;
  • Over 60% of the two thousand detailed responses to their ‘consultation’; AND
  • The unanimous decision of Wirral & Cheshire West and Chester Joint Health Scrutiny Committee (made up of councillors from Labour and Conservative parties, representing Wirral and Cheshire West and Chester councils)

What was billed as a meeting of the Joint Strategic Commissioning Board on 9th July was turned into a meeting of the CCG Board and they approved their own plan unanimously*.

Sadly they were supported by some GPs (including one who at least declared an interest as his practice would benefit from the change). And shockingly by a councillor who had previously written to DONHS to say, “The community consultation the CCG delivered on the urgent care review proposals showed unequivocally strong opposition to any closure of walk in centres. I stand by the wishes of Wirral residents and council and will oppose any closure of services”.

What now? We must renew our efforts to educate and inform (and if necessary expose) Wirral councillors. Of ALL parties. All opposed the plans, all say they love the NHS, and we doubt that very few of them are aware of the source of the deeply ideological changes to our NHS (in Minneapolis!) of which this is just part.

What can you do?

  1. Please write to Wirral and Cheshire West councillors asking them to support a ‘reference back’ of the decision to the Secretary of State for Health.
  2. Attend our next public meeting. It’s on TUESDAY 30th July at 7.00pm at a venue to be confirmed. Tell your friends and neighbours about this.
  3. Consider becoming more involved in NHS campaigning. Our AGM is in September and we would welcome new enthusiasts onto the DONHS executive committee. Details will follow soon.

See our Facebook page for updates: https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/

Best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS

* The story this week in the Wirral Globe and Liverpool Echo about the protest is misleading in several serious ways. 45,000 people (not 30,000 as they report) and the overwhelming majority of those who sent detailed responses to the CCG consultation protested against ANY closures. And it is important to note that, while DONHS has serious concerns about the behaviour of some councillors, the vote to close the centres had nothing to do with councillors; it was a decision of Wirral CCG and was opposed UNANIMOUSLY by Wirral and Cheshire West Councils…

WALK ON BY – Defend Our NHS: 45,000 people or a committee?

In all of the recent local press coverage about the proposed closure of Wirral’s NHS Walk–In Centres  it seemed to us it was a case of mutual arse-kissing with Frank Field/Abhi Mantegni/Wirral Globe thanking each other for saving us all from the bleeding obvious decision that closing local NHS Walk-In Centres makes no sense whatsoever – economically or politically.

Meanwhile our unrelenting friends at Defend Our NHS were dismissed and unnamed in these reports as ‘campaigners’.

So let’s give these true defenders their due and support their efforts to save us from a fate worse than a total fuck up.

 

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Defend Our NHS: Trump, Wirral and scandalous behaviour

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Following on from our last post and continuing our support to keep public services out of private hands we bring you the latest missive from Defend Our NHS. We’d also like to give you the heads up on a new website launched next week by the NHS Support Federation  NHS for sale

Dear friends of the NHS

First, Mr Trump and his view that OUR health service has to be part of any trade deal with the USA. Well, of course we oppose that completely. But for British government ministers to bluster that it will never happen ‘on my watch’ is total hypocrisy. Parts of our NHS – nationally and HERE in Wirral – are already controlled by American corporations. A former boss of United Health of Minneapolis is the head of NHS England. 

We have warned about this since we were formed over eight years ago; other campaigners have been sounding the alarm for a lot longer*. Our Facebook page lists American outfits active in Wirral.

PLEASE read and share these articles which explain what has been going on and what’s behind it.

USA healthcare is already here!

The NHS is already on the table. But here’s exactly how Trump wants to sharpen the knives.

And watch this succinct and heartfelt video explanation by our friend Steve Carne and which refers to the first link above. 

Second, Wirral, and our alert about meetings to decide the fate of our walk-in centres. These were a joint scrutiny committee of Wirral Council and Cheshire West and Chester Council on Tuesday 18th June at 6.00pm in Wallasey Town Hall and a joint strategic board meeting (i.e. Wirral Council and Wirral CCG) on Tuesday 9th July in Birkenhead Town Hall. (The meeting starts at 2.00pm and we will meet outside the Town Hall from 1.00pm.)

18th June? Imagine our shock when we learned that Cllr Moira McLaughlin has CANCELLED the meeting, writing (in her words) “Cllr Gilchrist has been made aware that members of the public believe that a meeting has been arranged with Cheshire West and Chester Scrutiny cttee to look at the implications for both authorities of the Urgent Care review which was examined in detail by the Wirral Adult Scrutiny cttee during the last municipal year…. I have asked that the provisional notice of a joint meeting on the 18th June be removed from the Council calendar” 

Can you understand why Wirral (and Cheshire) Council would give up this opportunity to scrutinise this hugely important issue? We can’t. Please ask your own councillors to investigate and intervene. They are either for our NHS… or not. What are they trying to hide?

9th July? Thus is even more shocking. We are now told that the vote at the Joint Strategic Board meeting will be just by members of the CCG board and not by the representatives of the Council. JOINT?!!! Wirral Council has pooled budgets and agreed to joint decision-making on health issues and is now surrendering all its powers to the local branch of NHS England.

The CCG could vandalise our walk-in and urgent care provision against the wishes of FORTY-FIVE THOUSAND people and the vast majority responding to their ‘consultation’.

A date which will live in infamy? Don’t let them get away with it. PLEASE contact your councillors now to protest against this arrogant behaviour. It cannot be allowed. There’s even more reason to gather on Tuesday 9th July from 1.00pm outside and inside Birkenhead Town Hall.

Best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

 * To prove this is not new, try to answer this quiz:

What date is this conversation in the House of Commons? And who answered the question?

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the agreement between his Department and the United Healthcare Group?

A: The government is committed to encouraging expressions of interest from successful international organisations to partner Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in developing and testing models of integrated care in the national health service. In line with this commitment, the Department is in discussion with United Healthcare Group with a view to entering into a contractual relationship with them to provide hands-on support to a number of PCTs to test elements of United Healthcare Group’s Evercare model in this country and tailor it to the needs of the NHS. Under the Evercare model, doctors and nurses in primary care work together with care staff to identify vulnerable individuals at highest risk of hospitalisation. This allows for early intervention and treatment, thus avoiding inappropriate hospital admission, and facilitating safe, early discharge where a stay in hospital is necessary. The work will be carried out under the national primary and care trust development programme to promote significant transformational change.

 

Defend Our NHS: important public meeting – 25 April

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Dear friends of the NHS

Attached is our latest leaflet which will be distributed widely in the coming weeks. Please read and share it.

The leaflet is linked to our next public meeting which we urge you to attend (and to publicise widely):

Thursday, 25 April 2019 from 7:00pm

Birkenhead Town Hall, Hamilton Square.

At the meeting there will be an update on saving our walk-in services.

But the main focus will be our campaign urging people to #VoteNHS.

We are writing to and inviting EVERY candidate standing for election in May’s local council contest in Wirral. Those who are sitting councillors are being asked about their record in relation to health and care; new candidates are being asked about their position and their intentions if elected.  If they can’t attend they can still communicate their views.

Our message to candidates is clear: we have had enough warm words from councillors; we want ACTIONS which defend our NHS. Councillors have the power to do this. And our message to fellow residents of Wirral is clear: #VoteNHS

In December Wirral Council agreed overwhelmingly (a decision by councillors from the three main political parties) to collaborate more formally with the decisions of Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group (the CCG, the local subsidiary of NHS England*).

They had previously rolled over and accepted the government’s decision to abolish the NHS and replace it with local variations: the STP, the ACS and (the latest) the ICS or integrated care system. They had also actually welcomed US health corporations into Wirral.

We want our new council to set about reversing this complicity and to join with campaigners to reinstate our NHS locally and nationally.

Come along and join us. Let’s see how candidates respond to our reasonable request for answers. If you can’t attend please ask your candidates these questions before you vote.

    1. Did any sitting councillors vote for the new ‘integrated’ health and care arrangements with Wirral CCG last December – and if so WHY?
    2. By forming the partnership with the CCG Wirral Council is obliged to support (for example) the urgent care review and therefore to support whatever the ‘commissioners’ decide to do with walk-in services. Were your councillors or candidates aware of this?
    3. CCGs were set up by the government to bring about their plan to Americanise our NHS. Councils in other parts of the country have withdrawn their cooperation** with their CCGs and are refusing to go along with cuts and closures. Do your councillors and candidates support withdrawing support from the CCG and the plans to ‘slash, trash and privatise’. If not, WHY NOT?

 

Best wishes on behalf of Defend Our NHS 

   

* The boss of NHS England is Simon Stevens. Previously he spent a decade working for United Health, the USA’s leading private health corporation. He is a world expert in health privatisation. His ‘alternative’ CV is available on our Facebook page.

** For examples only: 1: Hammersmith & Fulham council successfully blocked the closure of Charing Cross Hospital; 2: Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Waltham Forest councils all opposed CCG cuts ; 3: Luton council pulled out of its local ‘integrated care system’ because it had little influence over the plans 4: seven councils rejected local ‘sustainability’ plans.

 

 

Defend Our NHS: Romance is in the air – 14th February

 

Apologies to all our campaigning friends on Wirral – you haven’t had a look in this week but we hope to rectify the situation this Sunday evening with a trio of posts (yes , you lucky people). Could this be the start of Wirral Leaks ‘Sunday Campaign Bulletin’ ? Probably not! First up we have our faithful friends at Defend Our NHS . Not only are we liking their campaign we’re liking their campaigning style…

Romance2Birkenhead Town Hall
7.00pm
14th February
(dress code optional but wear your heart on your sleeve)

Dear friends of the NHS

We have been undecided on the most appropriate Valentine-themed title for our next public meeting on 14th February.

Given that 32,000 of us, including many local doctors, still await a response to our objections to Wirral CCG’s plans to undermine community health centre services, our early suggestion was walk-in back to (un)happiness

As the plans are only part of the wider political agenda to ‘slash, trash and privatise’ we changed the title to the St Valentine’ Day Massacre (of the NHS in Wirral)

But, on a day for the softy in you, when you will be thinking of roses and chocolates and candlelit suppers and sloppy films, if you and yours are making your way through a cold dark Wirral night you deserve a fine romance

So this is what we have in store for you. A drama of epic proportions! Spanning continents! Passion! Pride! Laughter! Tears! Yet more tears! Romance!

Yes! It’s the love for the NHS that dare not speak its name. Four men against the world!

PS 1: For the BIG picture of what’s happening to our NHS read this: https://publicmatters.org.uk/2019/01/25/rinse-and-repeat-the-sequel-to-the-5-year-forward-view/

PS 2: For the REGIONAL picture read this: What changes will patients notice when the NHS is run by Integrated Care Systems and Providers?

PS 3: for the LOCAL picture go to our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/defendournhs/

 

 

Defend Our NHS: Thank You and Happy Christmas!

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Dear friends of the NHS

Thank you! In fact 32,000 thank-yous. That’s the number (still rising) who signed petitions protesting against Wirral CCG’s plans for our walk-in and minor injuries services.

The petitions (from Defend Our NHS, all the centres and a number of patient groups) were collected at street stalls and in Wirral GP practices and hospitals and on-line.

They not only call for a total rethink of the CCG’s urgent care proposals but also demand a meeting in every single Wirral council ward. This is so that the CCG (and Wirral councillors) can explain just what they think they are doing to our NHS. There has never been any meaningful public engagement or consultation on the massive changes – as the Borough first became part of the ‘sustainability and transformation partnership’, then adopted ‘accountable care’, and then sneaked in ‘integrated care’.

Even councillors on the important scrutiny committee were kept in the dark. (We are challenging the legality of that.) And last week, at the packed meeting when the boxes and boxes full of petitions were presented, all the CCG could offer was ten minutes for protesters to have their say – and then promise to ‘listen’.

Who has the CCG’s ear? 32,000 Wirral residents? Or the few hundred (they can’t be specific) who they claim were ‘confused’ by current arrangements? In fact it’s the boss of NHS England. The man who has famously said, “The worldwide need for healthcare in ageing populations will lead to a demand for goods and services that can drive sales of American insurance, medical devices, and record-keeping technology.” (US health corporations already operate in Wirral. Did you know?)

Meanwhile Wirral Council (in the month when it has fulminated without any obvious effect against the CCG walk-in plans) has effectively amalgamated our health and care services and budgets with the same CCG. Without any of the required scrutiny (merely bombastic speeches) they have confirmed their acquiescence to the notorious ‘Section 75’. A minority of councillors stood on our side but they were outvoted by a majority coalition from three parties.

All of this means we will have our work cut out to DEFEND OUR NHS in 2019. There will be no let-up in our campaigning and we hope we can count on your active support. Tens of thousands of Wirral residents are with you.

Stay in touch.

AND have a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

On behalf of Defend Our NHS

Find all the information you need on Facebook

Audit Trail of Destruction

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The latest Private Eye reports that our very own local MP Frank Field has (quite rightly) been tearing strips off auditors/accountants PricewaterhouseCoopers  (doing business as PwC) in the House of Commons.

Their summary is:

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As you can read for yourselves we once again witness Frankenfield’s flair for Gothic melodrama. “Waving his cleaver'” (oo-er missus!) as if he’s auditioning for the lead role in a remake of ” Mommie Dearest” ( “bring me the axe!)  – but then as we’ve said before he’s always been a Freudian case study waiting to happen.

Wirral Leaks readers will know that PwC are internationally renowned as the favoured go-to accountants of the tax avoider[i] and money launderer[ii].

So who does Wirral Council (with their chums in the Wirral Clinical Commissioning Group ) choose to undertake ‘due diligence’ (cue hysterical laughter) as they help to dismantle the NHS locally?

We really don’t need to give you the answer do we?  But we’ll give you a clue – can you spot the business acronym below?

PwC CCG

How much did that ‘due diligence’ work cost us ? And have we heard a peep out of our local hero about PwC’s involvement in it?

Once again we don’t need to give you the answer do we?

Under the circumstances all we can say to Frankenfield is this :  If you’re going to play the people’s champion and defender of the NHS you have to be true to yourself and true to us. If not – what are you? That’s right – it makes you a duplicitous politician! But then we’ve long known that at Wirral Leaks!

[i] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-31147276

[ii] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2014/08/18/pwc-to-pay-25-million-to-settle-money-laundering-report-allegations/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.03f32dddcd

 

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.