Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/640/10343
Stop the NHS sell-off
Community health services in Nottinghamshire will be well on the way to privatisation by Christmas. Almost every part of healthcare that is not in an acute hospital or a GP's consulting room is affected.
A Nottinghamshire NHS worker
Services included are district nursing, coronary and stroke rehabilitation, mental health, Macmillan nurses for end-of-life care, sexual health, walk-in centres, health visitors, school nursing, Sure Start centres and many more.
These are now run by the Primary Care Trust (PCT). PCTs have been ordered to stop providing any services themselves, just becoming commissioners of services provided by others.
It could be other NHS organisations that take over, or charities, so-called Social Enterprises (which operate like private businesses) - or profit-making companies.
The 'Transforming Community Services' programme has grouped services into 'bundles'. Bids are invited by organisations wishing to run one or more bundles. The whole process sounds like a pub auction!
Whichever organisations win the bids, it will certainly be the profit-making corporations that will swoop down and grab them over the next few years. This will threaten many patients who depend on these vital services.
New providers will break up national pay, conditions and pensions - starting with new staff and then moving on to transferred staff from the PCTs.
Thousands of PCT employees around the country have been issued with redundancy notices.
It was only in July that the government published its white paper setting the NHS on the road to privatisation. Supposedly, this was for consultation. It hasn't even been debated in parliament, let alone become law.
But by December the successful bidders will be decided. The nurses, therapists and other staff who work in these services will find themselves employed by new organisations next April, unless a massive trade union-led campaign is built.
The speed of all this seems breath-taking - until we remember 'Transforming Community Services' was published back in 2008 by the Labour government!
The following letter was sent to the Hereford Times newspaper by a Socialist Party member:
The death of Sandra Lancaster at Kington Court community care centre highlights what can only be described as a regime of neglect. This is not the fault of the good-natured, hard-working staff but the level of service contracted and supervised by Herefordshire NHS from a private operator.
My father went to Kington Court two and a half months ago to recuperate from a cracked leg-bone. He entered as an independent, mentally and physically able man but has left there as a weak, skeletal, mentally confused and dependent person. His 92-year old wife has been turned from cared-for to carer.
My father's deterioration was not inevitable but has arisen from a regime under which his waking hours were spent sitting in isolation, with no mental or physical stimulation. The staff are given no time or remit to engage patients in conversation or to gather them for communal activity.
No physiotherapy was initially provided and when it finally came, it was woefully inadequate. My father's muscles have wasted to a point where he is barely able to support himself even with a zimmer frame.
A sudden, obvious drop in his mental state was not noted as significant by nurses or doctors and it was only at the family's insistance that blood tests were taken. This revealed an imbalance in mineral salts and he was immediately admitted to Hereford County Hospital. He is now massively incapacitated.
Herefordshire health administration must be held to account for allowing this pretence of a service to continue. It is their responsibility to provide a service with proper medical and nursing supervision, with staffing levels that create a genuinely therapeutic service for people needing intermediate care. We would not let any family member go near Kington Court again.
In The Socialist 29 September 2010:
Socialist Party editorial
Socialist Party news and analysis
Socialist Party feature
Socialist Party workplace news
International socialist news and analysis
Socialist Party feature