Saturday 12th November 2016

Keep Our NHS Public - North East
Health Campaigning Workshop

oger Nettleship, Maddy Nettleship and Dave Herbert from SSTHC attended the workshop organised by Keep Our NHS Public North East, which was attended by about 20 people. Key speakers were Dr Louise Irvine and Olivia O'Sullivan from the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign. They made a wonderful contribution which everyone from the movement on health around the region really appreciated. Speaking first, we were asked to make an intervention on our work, which received a very good response.

Afterwards Louise mentioned that she liked what we had said at the end of our contribution about the need to deprive the ruling elite of the power they have to deprive us of our right to decide the future of our health service and the future of society! She agreed with the importance of having that as an aim. We thanked her and said that our outlook was connected to their determination to win their campaign.

We talked about the history of the campaign, and we spoke about the fact that the ruling elite had destroyed public authorities and are now leaving the NHS in the hands of competing chief-executives constrained by imposed deficits and the market. We suggested that the lesson was to build a social movement to enable the people to become that public authority themselves. We have to unite people around the aims that health care is a right regardless of status, that it must be guaranteed and that this is the proclamation from the people for the whole economy in this struggle to safeguard the future of the NHS (this was the context for those final remarks that Louise liked).

During the workshops it was very interesting to hear remarks about the importance of uniting people regardless of political views, and the role that bodies like the People's Commission (PC Chaired by Michael Mansfield QC) have played. In response to a question about maintaining campaign momentum, Louise and Olivia pointed out that the PC partly served that role following their demonstration, as they didn't expect to win the legal case outright and would therefore have otherwise had that as an inspiration for their movement. It was certainly inspiring for us to hear that they have just defeated an attempt by the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to contract out multiskeletal services to the private sector. Assisted by the 'Freedom of Information' (FOI) law, they challenged their CCG over an 'Impact Assessment' analysing the effect of its strategy on existing services, knowing that it would compromise the A&E services at Lewisham if consultants were transferred. Louise mentioned that a similar challenge has also been won in Sussex. Their CCG tried to claim that the 'Impact Assessment' was done by NHS England. However another FOI proved that to be a lie. The contract was stopped because the 'Impact Assessment' showed that if the contracting-out went ahead it would destabilise existing services. People power can defeat the wrecking activity of these anti-social cost cutting measures and diktats.

The main future actions they are promoting include the Campaign for the NHS Reinstatement Bill, and the National Demonstration organised by Health Campaigns Together.

The nationwide campaign to save the NHS is gaining depth and breadth every day. We spoke to representatives from the Rothbury campaign, the Durham KONP campaign, and the 999 Call for the NHS campaign - important inter-campaign links continue to be forged!

For your convenience all of the slides from the presentation are available below:

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