Forest of Dean & Wye Valley

The fight to keep our health services within the NHS

In C. Mickleson on December 18, 2012 at 1:46 pm

CLAUDE MICKLESON looks at the campaign to keep health services in Gloucestershire within the NHS

Under the ConDem’s new Health legislation, the former NHS Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) are being split into separate bodies for commissioning and provisioning. Now healthcare trusts are busy doing just that – and in the process many parts of the Service have been farmed out to private companies, sometimes with unacceptable results poor service, fewer (and more poorly paid) nurses and staff, and many medical mistakes in the drive for enhanced profits. In most cases these medical errors have needed to be remedied in NHS hospitals.

Each act of privatisation weakens the NHS. It leads to fragmentation ensuring that the Health Service is less able to carry out the duties to the public that they are there to perform – which gives rise to dissatisfaction and ill-informed members of the public, not to mention speculators, claiming that privatisation of the Service might be a better option.


In Gloucestershire it looked as though we might be going down that road. The PCT had decided to transfer the provisioning wing – eight community hospitals – in the county, along with District Nurses, health visitors and ancillary services to a “Public Interest Company”. Although supposedly non-profit making, this body would no longer be an integral part of the Health Service, but a contractor to it, and undemocratically controlled. It could well have been the first step towards possible privatisation when their contract expired after three years.

Many members of the public who were extremely unhappy with the draconian cuts and curtailment of public services, had already formed into groups to fight back. It was decided by these groups that they should work together to resist the break-up of the NHS. One such group was able to put forward an elderly patient in order to challenge the Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust in the High Court, on the grounds that it had failed to consult the public. As usual, there was a time lapse before the case was heard, which prevented the PCT from taking further action. Eventually the case was heard, the barrister acting for the objectors put his case – and the PCT’s legal representatives felt unable to counter it, and offered to settle out of court.


The PCT then decided that its consultation process would consist of “pop-in” sessions throughout the county offering the public two options. In effect they were asked whether wanted a “stand alone trust” – still within the NHS – or to have services put out to tender where there were a number of large companies waiting in the wings, ready to hoover up the NHS funds. The decision to concentrate on pop-in sessions was made despite appeals for open public meetings to be held instead. The pop ins were poorly advertised, though leaflets were left at doctors’ surgeries, libraries, etc., and few of the public were aware that they were being held.

At the same time, anti-cuts’ campaigners visited most towns and various villages in the county explaining what the options on offer were, with petitions asking for signatures for option one.

Gathering signatures and explaining the background to a largely unaware public is a long and laborious job. It necessitated a few hours of hard work during each and every day. As much of the work had to be done during the day time, the task fell mainly to pensioners and those out of work. But at the end of it all the anti-cuts campaigners were able to present over 6,500 signatures to the PCT at its next board meeting.

There is no doubt that these, along with various other representations made to the board, had the desired effect. The PCT board voted for option one – to keep these services within the NHS.

Victory? Well, no, not quite. Just a hard fought battle in the war against cuts and the creeping privatisation of a service which has proved of inestimable value over the past 64 years and should be with us (admittedly needing some improvements) until at least… infinity.


So the fight goes on, to save the commissioning wing, which will be called the Clinical Commissioning Group, from going down the slippery slope into the vile hands of privatisation. The PCT has already set up a shadow board to co-ordinate all the 85 surgeries in the county, representing well over 300 doctors, into one single group. There are fears that the ever-present grabbing hand of the private healthcare companies is already at work picking off the few most vulnerable doctors to inject them with notions of vast wealth to be gained in working with the private sector, thereby fragmenting the NHS even further and leading to its eventual failure.

It is known that there are a large number of doctors who are loyal to the NHS, and we intend to show them that we care, and are prepared to fight alongside them for our beloved National Health Service.

{Web Ed. you can connect with those spear-heading the campaign in the Forest via Forest of Dean Against the Cuts Facebook prescence}.

  1. Reblogged this on Letter to America and commented:
    The lack of debate on healthcare in the UK is succinctly characterised by this blog post. It refers to the “vile” private sector which interestingly the royals and others in the UK elite rely on because the NHS is so dysfunctional. Take Kate for instance; she drove past at least 4 NHS hospitals to check into a private one, in fact the whole family does anytime they need care. Typical of the idealogical argument is a complete disregard for the patient. As rationale people know the right answer to who should treat patients is the best care giver, regardless of whether they are private or public sector. The continuous rearranging of the deck chairs through supposed “reform” on the NHS Titanic, is a smoke screen that allows nothing to change, the patient suffering to continue. American’s should proceed with caution down a path that insures only the privileged will enjoy immediate access and clean facilities.

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