At this moment Gloucestershire (along with Wiltshire and North East Somerset) are trying to take Patient Transport Services (non-emergency ambulances) out of the NHS and hand them to a bus company, Arriva. This service transports seriously ill people including those with kidney failure, cancer and severe diabetic problems.
The decision (which has not yet been implemented) to give the contract to Arriva comes despite significant concerns about the performance of Arriva in other areas where they have taken over the service, including Manchester (where their bid was weaker on quality, but undercut the NHS provider on price) and Leicestershire, where they were found to be using dirty ambulances and non-CRB checked staff. At the present time there are many unanswered questions including:
did Arriva get selected as preferred bidder because it was judged to provide a higher quality service – or just a cheaper one? If the latter – didn’t the government promise this wouldn’t happen?
will fewer people in our county be eligible to use this service? have they assessed the equalities impact eg on disabled people?
what will the impact of losing the contract have on the existing NHS provider, South West Ambulance Service Foundation Trust, and its ability to provide a joined up, integrated service, out of hours service, and emergency service? both in terms of its finances, and in terms of its ability to provide training and progression route for staff?
at what stage did any of our elected representatives know this was happening? if they didn’t know until it was more or less a done deal, how is this democracy?
why do the CCG minutes not contain any mention of outsourcing Patient Transport Services? Who actually took this decision, if its not in the CCG minutes? How is this ‘clinically led commissioning’?
what involvement did the public have in this decision, exactly? they claim there was some ‘engagement’ but details seem extremely sketchy aside from mention of a few handpicked stakeholders. what steps did they take to inform the public that this vital NHS service might be privatised, before taking their final decision? how is this ‘open and transparant’?
why did those who initiated this procurement exercise decide it was in the ‘patient interest’ to go out to the private sector to run the services, given they were in the midst of a consultation exercise about the NHS that overwhelmingly showed the people of Gloucestershire want services to stay in the NHS, not be tendered out?
if you share our concerns please get in touch with us to be added to our mailing list.
Please also contact your elected representatives here to let them know your concerns and ask the questions above.
Do elected representatives support NHS ambulances being privatised without local people having a say? If not – will they speak out about it?
We are asking these questions of the Clinical Commissioning Group themselves via the local Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, and will keep you posted. But it is important for our local elected councillors and MPs to know that people aren’t happy about this!
Right now, the government is trying to sneak through secondary legislation (under Section 75 of the Health & Social Care Act) to force virtually every part of the NHS to be opened up to *compulsory* competitive markets, open to the private sector. We have just over a month to stop them, and we need to start straight away.
These regulations (SI 257) are likely to be the final straw for many of our NHS hospitals and clinics, already damaged by too much costly marketisation and cuts.
Parliament does not normally even debate or vote on this type of regulation – but it is possible. Even those Lib Dems who supported the Health & Social Care Act should be very concerned as the regulations break the reassurances offered to parliament and to the local Clinical Commissioning Groups, that the Act allowed local choice about when to use competition. For example Andrew Lansley promised doctors that “commissioners, not the Secretary of State and not regulators – should decide when and how competition should be used to serve… patients interests” (see briefing for other examples of the promises that were made). But these new regulations do not allow local freedom to decide when to use competition, at all.
Here in Gloucestershire, campaigners successfully overturned privatisation of nine hospitals, instead keeping them in the NHS without tendering (in October 2012 – ie, even after the Act). The barrister in that case, David Lock QC, has told us that this option will no longer be possible for anyone else, if these regulations go through.
Please take time now to
a) sign this petition to call for a full debate, vote and defeat
b) urgently email your local MP to ask them to ensure these regulations are debated, voted on and defeated in parliament. Send them the Keep Our NHS Public briefing, & use the bullet points in the briefing to help you explain to your MP why you are so concerned. You can use www.theyworkforyou.com if you don’t have your MP’s email address.
c) ask others to do the same! please spread this message widely to friends, colleagues, any groups you are in, and write to the newspapers using the points in the attached briefing, along with your own experience.
d) you could also email the clerk of the house of lords committee on statutory instruments which will be examining the regulations shortly, raising concerns about the implications of these regulations and asking them to recommend they get a full debate in the Lords. Their email address is seclegscrutiny[at]parliament.uk. I will let you know when we know more about the way the Commons committees operate.
e) if you are in touch with your Clinical Commissioning Group you could ask if they share your concerns about the implications of these regulations, and if so, if they will speak out against them, and insist on the freedoms they were promised, to choose when they used competition, or not.
You can also read more background here:
and please do consider joining Keep Our NHS Public without whom this would not have been possible. www.keepournhspublic.com
SAVE OUR NHS!
Free workshop open to all – Saturday 16 February, 8 Milsom Street, Cheltenham, 10 a.m.- 3pm
Brett Sparkes, South West Coordinator, Unite Community
Claude Mickleson, treasurer of National Pensioners Convention*
Roger Davey, South Glos. & Wiltshire Unison Health branch*
And speakers from Gloucestershire 38 Degrees, Stroud Against the Cuts, and more
Please download and circulate the flyer here SAVE OUR NHS workshop 1 +2
Please contact helpthenhs[at]hotmail.co.uk for more information.
CAMPAIGNERS involved in the successful battle to keep Gloucestershire’s community health services public have now written an open letter to every GP in the county asking for their support in protecting other parts of the NHS from privatisation.
Read on in the Stroud News & Journal, here….
I’ve sent this letter to my doctor, and a number of 38 degrees members have sent similar letters already. Feel free to amend – hope this is helpful!
Do let us know if you get a response from your GP. We know many GPs share our concerns.