Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/723/14737
Gloucestershire: Countywide protests to stop NHS sell-off
Chris Moore, Gloucestershire Socialist Party
Over 100 protesters rallied outside Stroud General Hospital on 16 June before marching into the town centre. At the same time campaigners in Gloucester, Cheltenham and the Forest of Dean gathered to tell NHS Gloucestershire management to keep health services within the NHS.
A determined year-long campaign, including a judicial review, prevented the transfer of over 3,000 community health staff and nine community hospitals out of the NHS and into a 'community interest company' or social enterprise.
Campaigners also achieved a significant breakthrough in getting the option of a standalone NHS trust for community health services accepted by the NHS Gloucestershire board and the Department of Health, something previously dismissed by both. There is now an 18 June 'expressions of interest' deadline for groups, including NHS organisations and possibly private companies.
Stroud Against the Cuts believe that staff and public have the right to know who is interested in taking over NHS services. A Gloucestershire community NHS staff survey showed 91% support for a standalone NHS trust.
The Health and Social Care Act, unless stopped, will dismantle the NHS, exposing it to private sector vultures. Already, a clinical commissioning group has started to be set up in Gloucestershire. In Leeds, Virgin's Assura Care is working in partnership with 27 GP surgeries.
None of the health trade unions or professional bodies, such as the British Medical Association or the Royal College of Nursing, support the Act and a 2012 survey of GPs in the Stroud district found 61% opposed it.
Those who support community health services being run by a standalone NHS trust were urged to write to Jan Stubbings, chief executive of NHS Gloucestershire. Health trade unions will be approached over having a countywide demonstration. Campaigners also explained the urgent need for a national demonstration to defend the NHS, alongside support for the TUC 20 October demo.
More information: www.stroudagainstcuts.co.uk or keepglosnhspublic.posterous.com
In The Socialist 20 June 2012:
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