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So Campaigns Can’t Stop NHS Privatisation?

One of the main arguments that keeps apathy and fatalism top of the league table of why the UK public sits idly by when bad government policy destroys our public services: water, electricity, rail, telecoms and now the NHS; is ‘there’s nothing I can do, nothing changes anything.’

Well, campaigners against the privatisation of their local healthcare services in Gloucestershire prove this fatalistic mantra to be totally false!

News of the successful campaign to stop local healthcare services being put out to private tender, including the hospitals, may not be in the national TV news media, but you can be sure that campaign groups such as False Economy; will give it full publicity.

False Economy website news itemFull details of the Gloucestershire campaign, along with tips for others to replicate the fight against NHS privatisation in their own area can be found on the False Economy website. Here is a news snippet of their report:

‘Gloucestershire NHS campaigners have been celebrating victory as Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust (PCT) has announced that the county’s eight community hospitals and health services (including 3000 nurses and other health workers) will remain in the NHS – reversing an earlier decision to outsource services. The transfer was halted earlier this year after a High Court challenge by 76-year old Michael Lloyd of Stroud which forced the Primary Care Trust to go back to the drawing board.

On 15 October, the board of NHS Gloucestershire agreed instead to create a new standalone NHS Trust - and to reject the alternative option of putting health services out to tender, open to private sector takeover bids. The decision also means that the hospital buildings will stay in the NHS rather than be transferred to a new company, PropCo, and staff will not be forced into the SW Pay Cartel.

Michael Lloyd, the retired Stroud railwayman who obtained legal aid to take the case, said

“I am delighted by this decision. We cannot allow a return to the fear and poverty that ill health brought before the NHS existed.  Our NHS is too precious to be handed over to anyone on a political whim, nor should it have to compete against private providers, who are only interested in their profits.”

Click to download documentJames Beecher, chair of Stroud Against the Cuts, emphasised that local political campaigning, as much as the legal challenge, was decisive, saying:

“We would like to thank the tens of thousands of people in Gloucestershire who have contributed to this victory, by marching, filling in consultations and petitions, attending meetings, contributing financially, and helping countless other ways. We also owe a huge debt to the brave members of staff and trade unionists who spoke out, to the national campaigners like Keep Our NHS Public who have supported us, and most of all to Mr Lloyd, without whom, all these NHS staff and local hospitals would have already left the NHS.”

At a time when many parts of the NHS are rapidly being tendered and taken over by private companies like Virgin and Serco, and when concern about the consequences of the government’s health ‘reforms’ is increasing at the highest levels, this outcome has significant national implications.

Firstly, it shows that outsourcing can be halted, even late in the day, if there is enough political will.  When NHS Gloucestershire finally consulted staff and the public (possibly the first time such a clear cut choice has been offered in a consultation), the results were, as the PCT itself admitted, ‘overwhelming’. 91% of staff, and 96% of the public, voted for the services to be run by an NHS Trust rather than be put out to tender.

Secondly, the actions of the PCT show that there are – still - no legal hurdles (domestic or EU) to local health bosses keeping services in house, without tender – something that has also been confirmed in writing by government. Indeed, David Lock QC has argued that the case shows that keeping services in the NHS (without tendering), is an option that commissioners should always consider, first. And the promise of freedom not to have to offer services to the private sector, has since been extended to the Clinical Commissioning Groups soon to take over health budgets – if CCGs are bold enough to hold government to it.’

View the full news item here

Download the False Economy campaign guide, Ten Tips To Help Save The NHS From Privatisation from their website or direct from this website here

Source: False Economy

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