A petition against the privatisation of the NHS won the support of hundreds of North people during a day of action.
Campaigners from 38 Degrees took to the streets at Durham Market Place and on Teesside to drum up support for protecting the NHS after the next election.
They are challenging parliamentary candidates to protect the NHS from privatisation.
A petition which has been signed by around 2,000 people in the area will be handed to Durham City candidates in the coming week.
And campaigners delivered a 700-strong ‘Save our NHS’ petition to Middlesbrough parliamentary candidate Andy McDonald on Saturday.
Members of the independent campaign group 38 Degrees have called on parliamentary candidates, if they are elected, to “do everything they can to protect the NHS,” from what the group describes as “funding squeezes, privatisation, and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) trade deal”.
The message behind the campaign is spelled out on the 38 Degrees website which says:
“The NHS has been part of our lives for 67 years, but now it’s make or break.
“The NHS isn’t getting the cash it needs. And the government is letting money-hungry private companies carve out profits from treating the sick.”
Alan Rose, one of the campaigners, said:
“‘Our NHS has always been there for me and my family when we’ve needed it. But some politicians seem determined to break it up and sell parts off to the highest bidder.
“The thought of my family being cared for by profit-making companies really worries me. It’s not just about campaign promises to spend this or that, it’s about the fundamental values of the NHS. Could we be heading for a two-tier service based on ability to pay?
“What about the massive structural changes introduced by the Health and Social Care Act in 2012?”
“I would estimate that we collected around 400 signatures.
“We were so impressed with the number of people who were prepared to stop and talk to us in the cold and rain, because the weather really was awful on the morning.
“This petition is important because there is a great danger to the North East if there is a substantial amount of privatisation of the NHS.
“The 2012 Health and Social Care Act went a long way to dismantling the NHS.”
David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees, said:
“We want Durham City’s MP candidates to see that the best way to win votes is to pledge to save the NHS from privatisation and funding freezes.
“Every candidate needs to realise that cutting NHS funding, or handing it over to private companies, is a huge turn off for voters.”
‘Boro’s petition has attracted 792 signitures and was handed to Mr McDonald at the Bottle of Notes by Stella Worton, a 38 Degrees member from Middlesbrough.
David Babbs, executive director of 38 Degrees said:
“We’re sending a clear message to our local MP candidates – you’re being watched by hundreds us. And we all want you to protect the NHS.
“Politicians can’t sit on the fence about the NHS. If they want our votes, they need to promise to keep the NHS safe from private companies and funding freezes.
“We won’t stand for another five years of the NHS being broken up or squeezed to breaking point.
“Saturday’s petition delivery event is all about the people of Middlesbrough telling our next MPs exactly what we want for our NHS.”
Source – Middlesbrough Evening Gazette, 26 Apr 2015
Profit-driven firms have been winning far more NHS contracts than ministers admit and privatisation has increased significantly under the coalition government, the latest evidence shows.
Two new sets of figures, detailing who is being awarded contracts to provide NHS clinical services, both challenge the government’s claim that only 6% of the service’s budget goes to private firms.
Contracts monitored by the NHS Support Federation campaign group show that private firms won £3.54bn of £9.628bn worth of deals awarded in England last year – a win rate of 36.8%.
And responses from GP-led clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to a Labour freedom of information request reveal that private firms have been winning 40% of contracts CCGs have put out to tender, worth a total of £2.3bn, only slightly fewer than the 41% awarded to NHS bodies.
Labour also claim that NHS patients have had to endure longer waits for treatment as NHS hospitals have increasingly maximised their income from private patients, the number of which has gone up by as much as 58% since 2010. The NHS will end up as “a two-tier service”, with those paying privately being prioritised over other patients, unless action is taken to reverse the trend, the party claims.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said the figures it had collated “demolish [David] Cameron’s claim that there’s only been a modest increase in privatisation on his watch. The truth is there has been a sharp increase and the public has never been asked whether they want the NHS to go in this direction.”
Labour will on Saturday try to again use health to its advantage in the election campaign by pledging to reinstate the 2% limit of total income that NHS hospitals can earn by treating patients privately.
Ministers claim that the proportion of the NHS’s £100bn-plus budget going to private firms has risen from 4% under the previous Labour government to 6% during the coalition’s time in office.
This month, the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, accused Labour of trying to “scare people about privatisation that isn’t happening”.
But Labour’s research found that of 5,071 contracts awarded by CCGs 2,098 (41%) went to NHS bodies and 2,024 (40%) went to private healthcare firms, such as Care UK. The GP-led groups took control of £69.2bn of NHS funding in 2013.
“David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt have not been honest with working people about the scale and pace of privatisation on their watch. They’ve tried to play it down but these figures show they simply cannot be trusted with the NHS,” said Burnham. “It is shocking to see private companies winning just as many contracts as the NHS, and some with links to the Tory Party too.”
In 2009-10, Labour’s last year in power, 129 NHS foundation trust hospitals earned £224m in total from private patient income (PPI). By 2013-14 that had grown to 142 trusts sharing £389m between them.
The coalition lifted the cap on how much trusts could earn from PPI from 2% to 49% as part of its unpopular shakeup of the English NHS under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.
The £3.5bn worth of contracts won by private firms is five times the £681m the NHS Support Federation identified the year before. It also represents a huge increase on the £205m of contracts awarded in 2010-11, the coalition’s first year.
Of 13 contracts awarded last year that were worth at least £100m, six went to private firms, another five to private consortiums and just two to NHS providers bidding on their own. For example, Virgin Care got a £280m deal to coordinate care for long-term illness and care of elderly people in East Staffordshire.
“The public need clear sight of what’s happening to the NHS ahead of 7 May. The government cannot go on denying NHS privatisation. If we stay on the same path the NHS will become dominated by big business and there is a real danger that it will not survive,” said Paul Evans, director of the NHS Support Federation, which is funded by individuals, charities and unions.
“This is proof positive of a steep escalation in the private sector’s hold over the NHS. The mammoth NHS reforms opened up the NHS to the market and business. There is no current limit on how far their involvement can go,” he added.
The Tories rejected Labour’s claims about growing privatisation and dismissed returning the private patient cap to 2%.
A spokesman said: “This is a gimmick from Labour. Official figures show that outsourcing accounts for just 6p in each NHS pound, and private patient income is actually falling as a proportion of hospital budgets.
“By fixating on privatisation that independent experts and [NHS England boss] Simon Stevens say is a myth, Labour betray patients because the real debate should be good care against poor and on their watch, terrible events at Mid Staffs went ignored for four years.”
Source – The Guardian, 24 April 2015
A major jobs cull is on the horizon at a North East probation service as machines look set to replace some functions carried out by staff.
The Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company (NCRC), which is run by the French catering company Sodexo, is set to shed 131 jobs (around 30% of its workforce) as chiefs look to cut costs.
Unions have slammed the plans, which have emerged in the wake of a divisive privatisation programme, as “downright dangerous”.
It comes as Sodexo plans to install ATM-style kiosks which would allow offenders to report to services without having to meet an officer.
The move to “biometric reporting” would see an offender’s identity checked using fingerprint technology.
A face-to-face meeting could then be requested by the offender.
It is also thought that low-risk offenders may in future be monitored via a call centre under the plans, which Sodexo insists are in the early stages.
The job cuts are expected to be spread out over a 12-month period.
Probation service union NAPO believes the measures, if implemented, could put the public at risk.
Ian Lawrence, general secretary of NAPO, said members feel let down by Justice Secretary Chris Grayling.
“We are angry and disappointed about this news. Probation staff have been through hell over the last 18 months dealing with Grayling’s so called reforms and now many of them are facing redundancy and job insecurity.
“When we met with Sodexo earlier this year they told us there would be no reductions in workforce.
“The use of call centres and machines instead of highly skilled staff is down right dangerous and will put the public at risk.”
A Sodexo Justice Services spokesman said it was opening consultation on the plans with staff across the six UK centres that it operates.
“We are in the process of sharing our future plans with employees across the six CRCs that we operate, including Northumbria CRC.
“Given that we will be formally consulting on these plans, it would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.”
“Regarding the enhanced voluntary redundancy scheme, we are complying with the National Agreement negotiated between the unions and NOMS.
“We are looking at the possibility of introducing biometric systems in the future but details have not yet been confirmed.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 01 Apr 2015
We have exposed the government and their greedy self-serving tactics time and time again, and now one of the biggest and most obvious abuses of their power has taken place through the largest privatisation deal for the NHS yet.
After making the NHS impossible to operate through their meddling the government have initiated the privatisation of surgery, x-rays, and other diagnostic tests through the back door.
Using a little known about body called ‘NHS Supply Chain’, a highly lucrative £780 million deal has been struck with eleven companies, three of them having previously been heavily criticised, including two by the NHS regulator, for providing poor quality of care in hospitals and care homes.
The total value of the privatisation is made up of five national contracts with a maximum value of £240m, £160m, £240m, £80m and £60m – adding up to a total of £780m.
The companies include several that…
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The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has condemned the Government’s decision to privatise part of the administration of Universal Credit.
Private firm Capita will be gifted with the responsibility for booking initial work search interviews for new Universal Credit claimants.
Capita is currently facing a second inquiry into a £1.5bn Whitehall jobs contract, which small companies claim could leave them facing financial ruin.
A press release on the union’s website reads:
“Their intention is that the process for booking the appointment for a claimant’s initial work search interview will be handed to the private company Capita. No DWP staff will be transferred to Capita under this proposal.
“There is no justifiable business reason for doing this. DWP claim that Capita will be able to make these appointments at weekends for claimants who make a claim online at a weekend, but in practice the appointments could just as well be done by DWP staff the following Monday, as has happened up to now.
“Capita already have been handed the same task for claims to Jobseekers Allowance and this announcement extends that arrangement to Universal Credit claims.
“PCS has protested strongly to DWP about this decision. Seeing their work privatised is a kick in the teeth for our hard working members.
“Members will also be understandably concerned that this privatisation is a foretaste of further private sector involvement in the delivery of Universal Credit.
“PCS has also made the point to the department that Capita is consistently failing to meet its key targets in relation to JSA First Contact calls that are currently out sourced to them. This failure contrasts with the DWP staff in CCS who are consistently meeting the very same targets.
“Again the failure of the private sector to out-perform the public sector has been ignored as the tired, false dogma of ‘private sector good, public sector bad’ is wheeled out once again.
“PCS will continue to argue against all privatisation of DWP work and will continue to campaign for all privatised work to be brought back in-house where it belongs.”
> Hear, hear – claimants should be harrassed by public sector, not private company , workers.
Jobcentres are, I would guess, high on the list for selling off to private companies if the Tories win the next election. Possibly if Labour win too.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 22 Feb 2015
Four North-East Labour MPs have urged Ed Miliband to swing to the Left and rip up his “tragic” commitment to further deep spending cuts.
Grahame Morris (Easington), Ian Mearns (Gateshead), Dave Anderson (Blaydon) and Ian Lavery (Wansbeck) are among 16 rebels issuing the challenge to their leader.
Their alternative election manifesto demands:
* A £30bn investment package – an “alternative way out of endless austerity” – funded either by higher borrowing, the state-owned banks, or a levy on the super-rich.
The MPs call on Mr Miliband to exploit 0.5 per cent interest rates, arguing it would cost just £150m a year to finance the package – which they say would create more than a million jobs, within three years.
Instead, they say: “All three main parties, tragically, seem to agree that deep spending cuts must continue to be made until the structural budget deficit is wiped out in 2019-20.”
* Rail nationalisation, by taking train operating franchises back into public ownership when they expire.
The MPs reject Labour’s plan to allow not-for-profit firms to bid for franchises, condemning it as timid and “wholly unnecessary”.
They claim privatisation costs £1.2bn a year, adding: “Over 80 per cent of the public want the railways re-nationalised, which must include a significant proportion of Tories.”
* Stronger trade union and employment rights, with a return to collective bargaining “as a check against excessive corporate power”.
The alternative manifesto blames the disappearance of union-negotiated agreements for a sharp fall in the share of national income going to salaries and wages – from 65 per cent in 1980, to 53 per cent in 2012.
And it says: “We should therefore actively promote sectoral collective bargaining and strengthen the rights of trade unions to recognition, and of their members to representation.”
The move laid bare how Mr Miliband will struggle to carry his party to make the deep spending cuts planned, even if he wins a small majority in May.
The left-wing group of MPs are keen to take advantage of the rise of the anti-austerity Green Party and of the SNP to push Labour in a more radical direction.
Meanwhile, Len McCluskey, the Unite general secretary, has made repeated threats to establish a new workers’ party if Labour loses after offering a “pale shade of austerity”.
Last year, Mr McCluskey urged the likes of Mr Morris, Mr Mearns and Mr Lavery to “put the brakes” on Ed Miliband if he tries to take Labour to the right
> Even further to the right, I think he means…
It followed the trio’s criticism of Labour support for an overall welfare cap and vote against compulsory unpaid work experience.
Source – Northern Echo, 26 Jan 2015
A relaunched Northumberland Green Party branch has vowed to build on growing national support when they take on the Tories in next year’s General Election.
Tynedale Green Party, which has reformed in Hexham, will put forward a parliamentary candidate in 2015 for the first time since 1992, challenging Conservative MP Guy Opperman.
And its newly elected officers hope their efforts will be boosted by a 100% rise in England and Wales Green membership since the start of the year, and the possibility of joining further coalition governments in the future.
Graham Howard, who lives in Hexham and has been a supporter of Greenpeace since the 1980s, is press officer for the branch which covers all of Tynedale.
“We have a broken political system supported by vested corporate interests that resist any change.
“I work in the NHS and have seen this coalition turn the service on its head after it had been rebuilt under the previous Government.
“The Tories promised no ‘top-down re-organisation’ and then quite cynically reneged on that manifesto promise by instituting a totally unnecessary and brutal shake-up.
“Privatisation has been the mantra which has ruined so many industries at the expense of our basic infrastructure, for the financial benefit of a minority. The Greens must participate in the 2015 TV debates – they are the fastest growing party membership in the country.”
“Young voters are already much greener than older generations. That there are still climate change deniers able to get away with denying reality in the face of the science, would be laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous.”
John Hartshorne, a former Prudhoe schoolteacher, was the last Green Party candidate to stand 23 years ago.
“I joined because I believed that fundamental issues were not being discussed by politicians.
“Every one of us should have an interest in protecting and nurturing our world for our children, and teaching them the importance of compassion, tolerance and the inter-connectedness of all life.”
The next meeting of Tynedale Green Party is at 2pm on Saturday at Hexham Community Centre.
Mr Opperman said: “I look forward to a robust and honest debate on my record as Tynedale and Ponteland’s local MP.
“I am proud of my achievements such as protecting our local NHS, securing an extra £12m for our schools, fighting for our greenbelt and under this government seeing local unemployment fall by 51%.
“It has been a real honour to serve as the MP for my part of Northumberland over the last four years and I look forward to the campaign ahead. I hope I have tried to do things a little bit differently from the standard MP.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 10 Dec 2014
> Bit of a suprise… everyone seemed to expect the French bid to win.
Virgin Trains and Stagecoach have won the franchise to run the East Coast mainline rail route, it emerged this morning.
The controversial takeover has seen the firms promise to invest £140m in the route over eight years, and will pay the government £3.3bn for the contract.
Rail Minister Claire Perry is expected to be at Newcastle Central Station today and the franchise, which covers the route between London and Edinburgh, has been publicly run since 2009.
The anticipated move was lambasted by Labour MPs in the North East, after the publicly-run Directed Operated Railways brought the line back into profit.
Ahead of this morning’s decision, Dave Anderson, Blaydon’s Labour MP, said:
“This shows the real contempt that this coalition feels for the people of the North.
“We have seen continuing failures by private companies in running our line over the period since privatisation until the public sector stepped back in and stopped the rot and we have seen increased punctuality accompanied by increased usage by the travelling public which has delivered the best economic performance of any UK train service.
“This counts for nothing in the world of Conservative dogma. It shows, yet again, that this Government will ignore the wishes of anyone as it steams ahead with its ideological attack on the public sector in our country.”
East Coast paid a record £235m back to the Government in its final full year in public hands – up 12% on the previous year. Proof, unions believe, that a private sector deal is politically-motivated.
Grahame Morris, Easington MP, dismissed the privatisation of the line this week as “right wing Tory dogma”.
He said: “This public-run rail franchise has generated over a billion pounds for the Treasury.
“If this is what a publicly-run train operating franchise can deliver, at a time when every penny counts, we should be looking at ways to bring privately run railways back into public ownership not the other way round.
“This is right wing Tory dogma being put ahead of the best interests of the service, consideration for passengers and the public finances.
“The public-run East Coast Main Line franchise has consistently been the best performing franchise when it comes to passenger and staff satisfaction, fares and profitability.”
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 27 Nov 2014
Since being in power, the Conservative dominated government has been on a mission to covertly and overtly privatise as many of our public services as possible – all in the name of profit.
Last year, Cameron was involved in controversy over the grossly undervalued sale of Royal Mail – a sale which netted bankers Lazard, Goldman Sachs and UBS tens of millions in profit and cost the public around £1 BILLION in lost sale revenue
This week, two articles in the mainstream press expose the extent to which public services are being used by the government to line the pockets of private companies.
The Guardian reported how privatisation within the NHS is rife as a result of the much criticised Social Care Act which can into force in April 2013.
The Act has dramatically extended the enforced tendering of services within the NHS, opening up much of the service to…
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A probation service union is seeking a judicial review amid concerns over a “dangerous privatisation” move.
The Government announced this week that Sodexo will play a leading role in running probation services in Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.
The French firm, which has managed the 1,300-capacity HMP Northumberland since 2013, will take on the work of Northumbria Community Rehabilitation alongside the charity Nacro.
Napo, the probation service union, is now calling for a judicial review, and says introducing the reforms could place the public at risk.
Mike Quinn, spokesperson for the Northumbria branch of Napo, said:
“This is an important step in our campaign to halt these ill conceived plans to privatise probation.
“It should serve as a reminder to both the Government and bidders that we won’t give up in our fight to protect the public from this dangerous privatisation.
“The government simply can’t be allowed to carry on with plans which put the safety of the public in Tyne and Wear and Northumberland at risk without allowing proper piloting of their plans, or even publication of their own risk registers. They’re yet to convince anyone but themselves that there plans are any more than a way of making money for large companies.
“Northumberland and Tyne and Wear has been well served by a top performing probation trust for years.
“Over the last 6 months the minister has systematically attempted to destroy the Probation service – he must remember that the result of this isn’t just disgruntled workers with low morale, it’s an increase in crime and the victims of crime. It’s time he saw sense and called a halt to this privatisation.”
Justice Secretary Chris Grayling says the reforms will lead to better management of offenders in the region.
Source – Newcastle Evening Chronicle, 31 Oct 2014