Here is the latest update on where we are up to with this campaign, and what has been changing within the healthcare services in East Sussex.
Firstly, how I see this campaign could work would be for it to take a role which is primarily involved in co-ordinating actions between the different local organisations who have affiliated. Some time ago Wealden Labour contacted me about a film they were screeing in Uckfield. I was able to promote the film screening of, Groundswell: The Grassroots Battle for the NHS, on this website and say a few words on the night. I have now arranged for the film’s producer, John Furse, to be showing his film in Eastbourne on the 20th Jan.
We have got a big fight on our hands if we are to protect our local services. In many areas the STP boards have published a full plan for what changes they intend to make to hospitals. When the public see the proposals published in full it is a much easier job to inspire large scale protests. It seems in our area the changes they intend to make to our hospitals will be brought in gradually through a drip-drip approach. A cynical manouevre designed simply to avoid public opposition. I believe more strongly now than ever before that if we are to win this fight we must support each other and co-ordinate our efforts.
So far in East Sussex we now have an alliance formed of Hastings and Rother CCG; Eastbourne, Hailsham and Seaford CCG, East Sussex Healthcare Trust and East Sussex County Council with Sussex Partnership Foundation Trust affiliated. They are testing this model of an alliance where healthcare is commissioned and delivered by a single organisation. Initially the test was from 2017-2018, but now they have announced one more year of testing this model. This alliance would be modelled as an Integrated Care Provider or an Accountable Care Organisation. Although they claim that the additional year of testing this arrangement is to ensure its effectiveness, it seems more likely that they are waiting for the results of a judicial review into that model.
Last year, the 999 Call for the NHS Campaign was involved in a judicial review of the Accountable Care Model. The review went to appeal after one judge in Leeds attracted widespread condemnation for his rejection of the arguments presented by the campaign. At the Appeal Court campaigners felt they were given a much better chance to be heard and were left feeling slightly optimistic for a better outcome when they were told the court was to reserve judgement. It is likely that a result will be published early in 2019.
Health Campaigns Together are going to be running a ‘Safety First’ campaign to fight for a health service that is both safe for patients and safe for the workers. Although we must not forget that the NHS is still giving a fantastic level of care for many patients there is now evidence that some patients and staff need greater protection. HCT is aiming to get local campaigns such as this, gathering evidence of where safety issues are arising in the area in both NHS and private medicine. We need to have links with staff members, health and safety reps and members of the public to run an audit of safety within East Sussex healthcare settings. If anyone can help with this, please get in touch. It goes without saying that if you wish to provide information you can do so anonymously.
One area that has been brought to may attention on numerous occasions is the cinderella service of mental health. Mental health is supposedly meant to re-invest any money saved through cuts back into the service (no, I don’t know either why they are bothering to cut in the first-place if this is true). It seems to me that many campaigners are failing to keep their eyes on mental health trusts for just that reason. Yet, we know that since 2010, 1/3 of all inpatient mental health beds have been lost. Over the coming weeks I will be presenting the first of what I hope wll be many articles on safety for psychiatric patients on this website.
So what can you do as readers of this blog?
- Please engage – get in touch to say hello and if you belong to a community group who has not yet affiliated to the campaign find out if your group will affiliate.
- If you would like me to come and give a talk to your group then please also get in touch
- If you have information about services, or service changes please let me know
- Get in touch if you have any ideas for actions this campaign could adopt
- Think about whether you would like to join a small organising committee
- I hope that in the future we will be able to set up meetings where representatives of different local organisations can discuss campaigns or how to co-ordinate their actions with others
- If your organisation is planning a campaign event please tell me about it and let me help get you more support
- Lastly, please keep talking to the people you know and tell hem about this campaign.