NHS Gloucestershire’s board last month voted unanimously for community services to remain in the NHS. This decision, affecting eight hospitals and nearly 3,000 workers, was the culmination of a hard-fought campaign by anti-cuts activists and some brave members of staff.
The fight started when our primary care trust tried to divest its services into a new “social enterprise”. Cabinet office minister Francis Maude says these will be less “unpalatable” to people than “wholesale outsourcing” to the private sector.
But once a service leaves the public sector it is difficult for it to return, and it finds itself being put up for tender every few years as contracts have to be renewed.
That’s how we saw an award-winning service in Surrey going to Virgin Health. It’s an easy way to privatise services without people knowing until it’s too late.
The campaign forced trust bosses to do a proper survey of staff, instead of just going through a faceless person in management. And nearly every single member of staff chose to remain in the NHS.
The alternative would have meant the services would have been less accountable to the public and more expensive to run. The community services’ assets, worth over £90 million, would have been leased back to the service providers at goodness knows what rate!
Although the law states that the public doesn’t need to be consulted over a “simple” change of provider, here it would certainly have given rise to changes in provision. So the public were eventually consulted too.
Gloucestershire care services are now moving to a new NHS trust. But lessons have been learned.
The government cannot simply be allowed to privatise services against the wishes of service staff, users and the rest of the public. If you are concerned about the privatisation of services near you, act as soon as possible.
Health worker, Gloucestershire
Please keep reporting on the massacre of miners in South Africa as regularly as possible. The government and police would like to feed people lies. I am in mental anguish as the truth is revealed at the hearing. I am angry, in fact furious!
Under apartheid, black people didn’t trust the police who tortured people without any consequences. The ANC has recreated that apartheid environment where police can murder poor black people in broad daylight. Don’t let them get away with it. All the affected families deserve justice.
Jabu, Johannesburg, South Africa
There has been some misleading and grossly insensitive reporting in the right wing press about end of life care, particularly the Liverpool Care Pathway.
This is a care model designed to make people’s last days as comfortable and dignified as possible. But to read the reports, you’d think doctors were killing people to save cash.
People in their final hours deserve that we do all we can to alleviate their physical, emotional and spiritual distress.
Health workers tend to the dying and their families every day and every night. To describe their work as killing is deeply offensive—to workers, to patients and to their relatives.
End of life care worker, Leicestershire
On 2 November the crisis in Ireland and Europe took on a clear face and a tragic story for me. Declan Gilmartin, 22, from Leitrim hanged himself in north London.
Like many young people from Ireland, economic conditions drove him to seek work abroad, far from his family and friends. He moved out of necessity rather than choice and in the process became alienated and lonely.
Ireland is losing a generation. Some 182,900 15 to 29 year olds have left since the crisis began. Many then face real social problems without the support networks they grew up with.
Capitalism seeks to alienate and divide us, and we strive to offer a socialist alternative. But the only option Declan felt he had was to take his own life.
Ruairi O’Neill, Bristol
Police have a long history when it comes to investigating “figures of high standing” in sex scandals. In 1971 a 15 year old Top of the Pops audience regular committed suicide leaving a diary naming celebrities who used her for sex. Police derided her as a fantasist.
Approved schools like Duncroft were all closed down after newspaper investigations in the 1970s revealed systematic abuse. Curiously police are still yet to interview Duncroft’s former head or members of staff.
Paul Foot’s book Who Framed Colin Wallace? contains claims of a high-level cover up over Kincora boys’ home. An inquiry set up by William Hague into organised child abuse is now criticised for being limited in scope to protect celebrities and politicians.
Police are said to have intimidated anyone trying to make complaints. On past performance, when police say they are working on an “arrest strategy” one has to wonder if they are in fact working on a damage limitation exercise?
Keith Prince, south London
Is it right that these millionaires spend a billion dollars each on running in the US election? There’s thousands of people unemployed and living on food stamps.
How wrong is the capitalist system? People are starving to death but its OK to spend a billion on posters and shit.
David Fawcett on Facebook
I disagree with Jonathan Neale about not voting for Obama. In a way it’s a perfect con, but not voting won’t help. Unless there will be some sort of socialist uprising in the States there is not much option.
Angela O’Hare on Facebook
Iain Duncan Smith has threatened workers with a cut to their benefits if they don’t work full time. Yet people are forced into part time work because full time jobs are so hard to come by.
Under-employment has risen to 3.3 million under this government. Let’s give Duncan Smith a taste of what it’s like to lose a job.
Jo Rust, King’s Lynn, Norfolk
Would you believe it, our mail centre is closing. People are being displaced, or losing their jobs because they don’t want to travel an 80 mile round trip every day.
All the manager can do is tell people they are not to drink from cups but from beakers with tops on. At over 50 years old I don’t need to be treated like a two year old.
‘The insider’, postal worker, Teesside
I saw your report on firefighters protesting. Well if an MP’s house catches fire these guys should refuse to put it out. It’s the cuts isn’t it?
Rich Fisher on Facebook