Urgent: Mid Staffs NHS administrators pushing privatisation

On Saturday, over 50,000 people marched through Stafford in support of their local hospital, which has been put into administration by regulator Monitor on behalf of the Department of Health. As the SKWAWKBOX blog pointed out, the ‘independent’ administrators appointed by the government to review the provisional decisions made by the original CPT team are none other than… the same original team.

As a commenter on the SKWAWKBOX blog pointed out, the speeches given by those addressing the marchers on Saturday were impassioned and plain-spoken – in stark contrast to the twisted, opaque statements made by the so-called ‘independent’ administrators about their plans. Here is an excerpt from the speech made by Support Stafford Hospital campaigner Cheryl Porter:

Nye Bevan said ‘The NHS will last as long as there are folks left to fight for it!’ 
Well I can see that there are many people willing to stand up and fight for the best national health service in the world! This is just the beginning of the fight, not only for our hospital but for lots of hospitals throughout Britain.

I have been privileged to meet some truly wonderful, dedicated people recently and they haven’t had a voice! Today I hope we have given them a voice.

We all need to shout loud, be proud and let the GP’s. the administrators and the government know that we want OUR hospital.
Please, Please….. please
I ask each and everyone of you to ask your GP whether they are in favour of closing services at Stafford, I want you to write to the administrators and tell them,……tell them we want A&E,
Tell them we want critical care….
Tell them we want paediatrics…..
Tell them we want ICU….
Tell them we demand Maternity…..
Tell them we want our hospital!

Now, compare that with this, from the ‘independent’ administrators’ website:

The TSAs will also be undertaking a market engagement exercise to understand the appetite of other healthcare providers to deliver services in the local community. This engagement forms part of the TSAs’ work to develop potential solutions to ensure the sustainability of services and it will contribute to the development of the recommendations in the draft report which will form the basis of the formal consultation.

Convoluted, detached, opaque – and as serious as a heart attack if, like those 50,000+ marchers, you care about real NHS services in Stafford or anywhere else. The ‘market engagement exercise to understand the appetite of other healthcare providers to deliver services in the local community’ – if put as plainly as the language used by the speakers on Saturday afternoon – would read something like this:

We want to privatise Stafford’s services, and we are going to talk to any and all private providers to see who fancies a piece of the pie.

The people of Stafford have said loudly and clearly what they want – they want to keep their NHS hospital, which is now among the best in England. But the government, for all its talk of ‘choice’ and ‘localism’, has no intention of missing the opportunity it sees, not only to close Stafford hospital and farm services out to private companies, but to set a precedent that it can apply to other hospitals as well – and it has targeted 36% of England’s hospitals just for the first phase.

The people of Stafford deserve to keep their hospital, in spite of the ‘smear-job’ that has been done on it by the media and by government. But they’re going to have to continue fighting if they’re going to do so.

The NHS Constitution gives every single person in and around Stafford the legal right not only to be ‘consulted’ about which of a pre-decided list of options they have to put up with, but

to be involved, directly or through representatives, in the planning of healthcare services, the development and consideration of proposals for changes in the way those services are provided, and in decisions to be made affecting the operation of those services.

These legal rights are not being respected by the government’s ‘hatchet men’, the Trust Special Administrators. CCGWatch urges the people of Stafford to engage legal assistance and demand their right – the right to be right at the heart of the deliberations and decision-making. Not just one or two representatives that might be railroaded by the ‘hit squad’, but an overwhelming presence.

Every person who relies on Stafford hospital has that legal right individually. If the TSAs do not acquiesce, they could quite conceivably be tied up in legal wrangling while the hospital remains open until the country has a chance to change its government, if each person insists on their right to participate – the rights of the Constitution apply to patients and public alike.

Given the high-profile, career-making nature of the case, it might be possible to find barristers who would represent the townspeople free of charge. If not, then the people of Stafford are going to need funds urgently for the fight.

Just as CCGWatch urges the people of Stafford to ‘fight the good fight’ for all our sakes, we urge every person who reads this to contact Support Stafford Hospital to offer a donation to create a fighting fund – not just for the sake of Staffordians, but for your own self-interest. If the government gets away with its plan to pull apart Stafford hospital and throw the pieces to its private health supporters, your own local hospital is likely to be on the list sooner rather than later.

(And, if you can afford to do so, please consider using the Paypal link on the right of the screen to make a small one-off or repeat donation to CCGWatch for the wider fight to preserve the NHS).

Thank you.