Category Archives: Open Letters

Doctors’ Strikes: Time For One Final Push

An open letter from the NHSpace blog to all those doctors considering what action to take.

Dear doctors,

You’ve come a long way since the ballot on industrial action last year. You’ve forced the government to come back to the table at least twice, and got concessions out of them. You did this by maintaining a united front, and by being honest and measured whilst your opponents were being deceitful and excessive.

That’s why you still hold the cards. Hunt went all-in months ago with his ‘imposition’. He has no greater sanction left, and can only harm you in the court of public opinion. And so Hunt is trying to convince the public to turn against you.

“Hunt’s contract is far more damaging than any strike. He’s stretched the NHS so thin that people are already falling through the cracks.”

But he hasn’t succeeded yet. A new poll shows 57% of the public still support the strikes, and 51% believe Hunt should not have been reappointed. You can still win the public relations battle. Just do the following:

1 – Be team players. If the public think that doctors are divided over the contract and the strikes, they’ll lose faith in you.

2 – Be constructive. If you don’t like the strikes, focus your energy on talking about the issues you want fixed, rather than attacking your colleagues.

3 – Keep the message simple. The government are still pursuing the ‘7-day NHS’ line, which is easy for the public to follow. So remember: Hunt’s contract is far more damaging than any strike. He’s stretched the NHS so thin that people are already falling through the cracks.

4 – Expect to win, and soon. The government may have put on their poker face, but underneath the pressure is showing. If you can keep the public on your side, the government will have to cave in soon.

Regardless of what you think of the strikes, you must work together to win this fight. The very future of the NHS depends on your actions in these coming days and weeks.

Best wishes,

NHAspace

Open Letter from Dr Clive Peedell to Jeremy Hunt regarding the legality of the latest top-down NHS reorganisation

To the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt, MP, Secretary of State for Health

Dear Mr Hunt

I am writing to you on a subject of great urgency regarding the changes to the NHS proposed on 19th May 2016, by Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England.

Mr Stevens has suggested that the health service could create a form of ‘combined authorities’. He talks of spanning hospitals and commissioners and consolidating CCGs.

These proposals appear to run contrary to the provisions of the Health & Social Care Act (2012) and contrary to the stated objective of the Act of a locally driven commissioning service provided by GPs, who have an intimate knowledge of their local community needs.

Whether or not the CCGs have fulfilled this function satisfactorily, they are, nonetheless, a legal creation. I am, therefore, asking for clarification of the legal status of the changes being made under the Sustainability and Transformation Plans.

Mr Stevens has also referred to removing veto powers. Does that mean, in effect, that no-one will be able to object to changes as they will be imposed? Could you clarify which powers are being removed, under what statute were those powers granted, and what legislation been passed to allow their removal?

This announcement was paired with the publication of the funding allocations expected for 2020-2021. Mr Stevens said that these numbers would give a better focus than the funding ‘gap’ numbers people try to come up with. His predicted figures are shockingly low.

I do not write as a legal expert, but as a doctor with great concern for the impact of these extensive changes on my patients. I ask that you clarify with urgency the law that is being used for these changes which are happening on a large scale with great speed.

My specific concerns are about transparency, responsibility and accountability. There does not appear to be adequate time to prepare proper risk or equality impact assessments.

I look forward to hearing your response on these serious matters.

Yours sincerely

Dr Clive Peedell
cc Rt Hon David Cameron MP, the Prime Minister
cc Rt Hon Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition
cc Hon Heidi Alexander, Shadow Secretary of State for Health

Open Letter to Jeremy Corbyn from Clive Peedell

Dear Jeremy Corbyn,

First of all congratulations on winning this election.

What you have achieved shows that there is demonstrable support for anti-austerity politics around the country. That is something we have never doubted in the NHA, despite the opinion of the mass media and government representatives.

Having said that, it would be foolish to think that ideologically driven austerity, which underfunds and undermines our public services, will step aside in the face of public opposition. You have stated publicly that opposition parties must work together. I think that you should start those discussions straight away.

I co-founded the NHA party 3 years ago in reaction to the Health & Social Care Act, which ended the NHS as we know it. It was always clear to me and to my colleagues who founded the party that the Labour Party had played a significant role in the dismantling of the NHS. The legislation they enacted extended the market and established the private sector’s role. They have failed to alert the public to the real extent of the damage being done under the Coalition and the current government. They even allowed David Cameron to claim to be the protector of the NHS, a claim that should have been laughable, not credible.

There has been a groundswell of anger from within the NHS against Jeremy Hunt since he launched his ‘24/7’ NHS plans. He and his Cabinet colleagues appear to be the only people in the country who don’t know we already have a 24/7 NHS. He accused consultants of opting out when they don’t, has refused decent pay rises to nurses, wants to force reduced pay and conditions on staff across the board, has presided over A&E closures that have had fatal consequence, made £200million cuts to the public health budget and has presided for too long over hospitals being run according to financial not clinical judgement.

You acknowledged the problems of the market in the NHS today in your speech and have spoken of the PFI deals shackling the NHS Foundation Trusts. Both these areas are of great concern. That is why I take this opportunity to issue an invitation to you to discuss the way forward for the NHS with myself and my colleagues, passionate defenders of its core values, with the knowledge and direct experience ‎to offer workable solutions.

On Monday, two days after your election, there will be a debate on Jeremy Hunt’s proposals in Westminster Hall. It should be a debate on a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt as required by the petition rules but it has been altered.

As an act of good faith, and in order to show that you will start your leadership as you mean to go on the Labour Party should turn up in force to that debate and insist it be used as a vote of no confidence. That’s what the petition demanded. Many tens of thousands attended your rallies. Many hundreds of thousands more, from all parties and campaign groups, signed petitions and have written articles and emails in opposition to this government’s attacks on the NHS. If those who elected you are recognised as a groundswell of public opinion, so should those demanding that Jeremy Hunt be held accountable and their views should be represented unequivocally by Labour MPS in Westminster Hall on Monday.

Your leadership holds the promise of a new optimism. We hope it will be borne out in the creation of a real new politics offering recognition of political allies in the fight against austerity, against the destruction of our public services and that we can be united against the Tories in the defence of our NHS.

Congratulations once again

Clive Peedell

Dear Andy: Labour Need To Sort Themselves Out

Dear Andy Burnham,

We know you probably haven’t heard of NHSpace. That’s fine; everyone has to start somewhere. What matters is we believe in something, and we’re willing to stand up for what we believe.

We thought you were too, Andy. We saw you give a talk to NHS staff last year, and we took notes. You said:

  • “I prefer the NHS model over a more marketised system. A more marketised system means more costs.”
  • “The NHS model avoids the inflationary pressures, rising costs and fragmented care that affects a market-based system.”
  • “We will repeal the H&SC Act, and we will include that in the first Queen’s Speech of the next Labour government.”

So why, Andy, are you now supporting the marketisation of the NHS? You would reverse the H&SC Act only to replace it with a different flavour of privatisation in which the NHS and charities are ‘preferred providers‘. Such a system will still welcome private firms, be governed by European competition law, and waste billions on contracts and tenders.

You’re a nice guy, Andy, and you give good speeches. But what you’ve got lined up for our NHS just isn’t good enough.

Labour have strayed too far to the right and are now helping the Tories sell off the welfare state that Aneurin Bevan helped create. The Labour Party isn’t the same party that you joined at age 14 to fight the Tories, and it’s certainly not a party that  Bevan would recognise. You of all people should be able to see that Labour need to sort themselves out.

Yours sincerely,

NHSpace 

Open Letter To Harriet Harman

Jessica Ormerod and Deborah Harrington have some advice for the Labour deputy leader.

Have we really not moved on since 1953? Take one look at Harriet Harman and her pink campaign bus and you’d be forgiven for thinking we haven’t. The idea that Labour are going to sweep up the mummy vote with a pink bus and a patronising wink from Harriet as she talks woman to woman would be laughable if it weren’t so vomit-inducing.

Since the coalition stumbled into power we have all been the losers, but women and children have been hit the hardest. Labour are neither saying nor doing anything to stop the horrific effects of austerity on the most vulnerable in our society.

I can tell you, Harriet, just what keeps us women folk up at night. Like you, I live in South East London. Unlike you, my children go to the local comprehensive school and over the last few years I have seen families made homeless by the wicked austerity agenda. An agenda that your party defends. To use the patronising parlance of government, these are ‘hard-working families’ who have been turfed out of their houses because the landlord has decided to ride the property market and sell the flat, leaving families with no recourse but to pack their bags and go to the housing office. Because there is no housing stock left in Lewisham, these families are re-housed in the appalling conditions of so-called ’emergency accommodation’, often far from their jobs and their children’s schools. Mummy lies awake listening to the drug addicts and alcoholics shouting at each other in the room next door, worries about the three buses they will need to get to school the next morning, worries if she’ll even be able to get on the bus because if there’s one pushchair on there already the driver shoos you away. And anyway, everyone will have to be up at 5am in order to make the journey of 5 miles because buses are late, buses get stuck in traffic and there’s always a walk at the end with three miserable, tired children who might not have eaten because, and here’s another worry, Harriet, there’s not enough money for everyone to eat breakfast.

Women bear the brunt of plummeting household finances, they go hungry to keep their children fed, they take their children to hospital, they work zero hour contract jobs, they get beaten up by their partners and have nowhere to go…

So, Harriet, let’s talk about what women want:

Housing

Women, and especially women with children, are most affected by the unaffordability of decent homes. They are more likely to have inadequate incomes and suffer from draconian reductions in benefit. Don’t just talk about building more homes, talk about what kind of homes. Council homes at council rents sounds good. Don’t use that awful term ‘affordable’ which mostly is only marginally less affordable than current market prices. How about decent jobs in areas where homes are standing empty so people can live happy lives there?

Childcare

Don’t offer more ‘free’ hours and vouchers, these have led over the last 20 years to the cost of nursery places in England being the highest in Europe – put more money into any given area of the private sector and the prices go up (but not always the standards). Build on local council provision instead, or provide more kindergartens attached to primary schools.

Social care

Do something urgently about the drastic reductions in local authority social care budgets which hit women harder than anyone. Women already provide a lot of the care for the generations below and above them, and what support and relief they were getting has been torn away by this government.

Health

Women bear the children and also tend to look after their household’s health. If they suffer inadequate housing, low wages, failure of local provision of service, their health suffers – and then who looks after the children?

Domestic violence

Where can we take our children to be safe from abuse now that the refuges have been savagely cut?

Education

I want to send my child to a normal state comprehensive but I am faced with an array of foundation schools, academies and free schools that I don’t trust and I don’t like.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. I say, get out of your bus and get real about what is actually happening to women: to their children and their partners; to their everyday lives. Don’t tell us what we worry about – ask us and we’ll tell you.

We want a new politics. We want a healthy NHS. We want a better Britain.