The ‘Save Lewisham Hospital’ campaign has been successful in its legal case to the High Court (and Court of Appeal) to stop the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, from cutting services at Lewisham to bail out nearby financially failing hospitals. Therefore the government is bringing in a last minute amendment to the Care Bill. This will give special administrators taking over failing NHS trusts in England the power to recommend service cuts and service changes in other nearby trusts. The Health Secretary will be given the power to act on these recommendations.
Simon Stevens will succeed Sir David Nicholson as the chief executive of NHS England on 1 April 2014. Stevens was special adviser to Labour’s first two health secretaries, Frank Dobson and Alan Milburn. They produced the ‘NHS Plan’, launched in 2000. He is currently president of UnitedHealth’s global health division (a US private healthcare company). NHS England oversees the day-to-day operation of the health service in England.
The House of Commons Health Select Committee voted not to endorse Dominic Dodd, who was the government’s preferred candidate for the post of Head of Monitor. Dodd previously worked for a consultancy that advised private health companies how to take advantage of opportunities in the NHS. Dodd has withdrawn his application. Monitor is the regulator for health services in England.
I recently had to go into North Durham Hospital for an acute but minor procedure. All the staff involved were excellent: from the GP diagnosing the problem and organising the admission, to the nurses, doctors and support staff who cared for me. The staff were professional, competent, and courteous. They worked extremely long hours. The problems I encountered were caused by lack of beds and lack of staff. I had to wait ~24 hours for a bed, as the Surgical Admissions Unit was constrained by lack of beds on other wards to move on their patients. I had to wait ~10 hours for treatment as the surgeons were fully committed dealing with serious cases.
“More than 70 people gathered at County Hall in Durham on the morning of Saturday 21st September to discuss collectively what unions, medical professionals, service users and MPs can do to defend the NHS from increasing privatisation and fragmentation.” The event was organised by the Public Services Alliance.
Handover of Petition
The handover of our petition to Roberta Blackman-Woods, calling on Labour to repeal the Health and Social Care Act, will take place on Friday 15th November, 4.30 pm, at the Miners’ Hall, Redhills, Durham City at 4.30 p.m. The petition states:
Dear Mr Miliband
As strong supporters of the National Health Service, we warmly welcome your pledge to repeal the Health and Social Care Act when you form the next government.
We call on you to make restoring the NHS the major issue in the next election.
999 Call for the NHS Rally, Saturday 23rd November, 11am to 1pm, in the Town Hall, Market Place, Durham City. Speakers will include the Green Party leader Natalie Bennett. For more information please see www.nationalhealthaction.org.uk
The Gagging Bill
The Commission on Civil Society and Democratic Engagement has been sent up by a “diverse coalition of prominent charities, campaign groups, academics, think tanks and online networks” because of concerns about the Government’s Lobbying (aka Gagging) Bill. They are taking evidence from affected groups across the UK: we’ve put forward our views as KONP Durham. The Commission has just published their first report (available on their website) with more to follow. Currently the relevant section of the bill has been paused for discussion. However, we know such a pause did not significantly alter the Health and Social Care Act, so the pressure against this bill needs to be maintained.