Please share this video about Simon Stevens, the man who is fragmenting, dismantling and privatising England’s NHS


Private referrals by NHS soar 600%

THE NUMBER of patients referred to private hospitals by NHS bosses has surged by nearly 600 per cent over the last decade as an under-staffed health service buckles under unprecedented demand, figures reveal.

By LUCY JOHNSTON, EXCLUSIVE PUBLISHED: 03:58, Sun, Jul 15, 2018 | UPDATED: 04:04, Sun, Jul 15, 2018 Sunday Express

Alarmed campaigners fear it is another example of creeping privatisation in the NHS and the figures follow a government health watchdog report highlighting serious safety concerns among private hospitals.

The figures, released by NHS digital, show the health service paid for 584,963 private procedures and operations because it did not have enough staff or resources to cope – almost six times the amount outsourced to the private sector between 2007 and 2008, when it commissioned 100,067 procedures.

At the same time, the total number of hospital procedures rose by only a quarter, almost three million in total, to 16,546,667 in 2016-17.

The number of private procedures commissioned by the NHS last year is estimated to have cost at least £1billion.

Sara Gorton of health service union Unison said: “With so many demands being made on the NHS, it’s not surprising that targets for surgery waiting times are being missed and the NHS is having to pay for expensive operations in private hospitals. It’s a terrible use of already stretched NHS resources.

“It’s also why it’s so important the NHS gets the money it’s been promised by ministers as soon as possible, so the health service can get back to treating all its patients on its own premises.”

Dr Tony O’Sullivan, cochairman of pressure group Keep Our NHS Public, said: “It is very damaging for the NHS and a safety issue to divert to the private sector, which does not have the infrastructure and level of expertise to deal with complex cases when things go wrong.

“Often the NHS has to pick up the pieces when this happens. On top of this, increasing use of private hospitals means removing skills from the NHS whilst divesting of income from the more lucrative elective and straightforward cases.”

The news comes alongside growing safety concern about staffing and facilities in some private hospitals.

The news comes alongside growing safety concern about staffing and facilities in some private hospitals.

One report into acute care published last year by the Care Quality Commission found safety concerns in 41 per cent of 206 independent hospitals it inspected.

It discovered an “informal culture” in some operating theatres and lack of proper checks and monitoring of senior doctors.

It likened some failures to those in the case of West Midlands breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who was found guilty of 17 counts of wounding with intent last year and jailed for 20 years.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: “As spending on the NHS has increased, private sector spending remains proportionally low. We remain clear that the NHS will remain free at the point of use, both now and in the future.”

Funding cuts lead to dramatic fall in prescribing of stop smoking products

By Emma Bower on the 16 July 2018


The number of prescriptions issued in primary care in England for nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) fell by 75% between 2005/6 and 2016/17 and dispensing rates for varenicline fell by more than 50% between 2010/11 and 2016/17, according to new analysis.

The research, by health charity the British Lung Foundation, also found that the number of stop smoking products dispensed in Wales in 2016/17 was two-thirds less than in 2007/8. There was a 40% fall in the number of products dispensed in Scotland between 2012/13 and 2014/15.

The British Lung Foundation said the results were the ‘very real effects of sustained cuts to funding.’

The charity’s report Less help to quit said the decline in prescriptions of stop smoking products over the past five years had not been matched by a similar decrease in smokers. Between 2010/11 and 2016/17 smoking prevalence in England fell by 22%, while prescription rates fell by 60%.

According to figures from NHS Digital, GP practices are the most common place for smokers in England to first seek help to quit, with 38% choosing this route. However, the British Lung Foundation said that people were increasingly unable to get help to stop smoking from their GP surgery because of funding restrictions.

A survey by GPonline earlier this year found that 40% of GP partners had experienced cuts in funding for smoking cessation services provided by their practice in the previous 12 months.

Regional variation

This latest research found significant regional variation in the availability of stop smoking products on prescription and specialist services. Stop smoking services had been cut, or decommissioned entirely, in areas of England and some CCGs had issued guidance asking GPs not to prescribe smoking cessation products.

In Worcestershire the local authority decommissioned its stop smoking services in April 2016 and CCGs advised GPs not to prescribe NRT, bupropion or varenicline for any new patients because the local authority would no longer reimburse the costs.

Across the area just 98 people were supported to stop smoking in 2016/17 compared with 2,208 in the previous year, and there were no recorded quit attempts made through general practice.

The report also found that some areas with higher than average smoking prevalence had ‘incredibly low’ prescribing rates. On average one prescription for stop smoking products is dispensed for every seven smokers in England. However, the research found that this figure drops to 1 in every 176 smokers in Bracknell and Ascot CCG in Berkshire and 1 in 55 smokers in Hackney CCG in east London.

Items prescribed per 1,000 population are also much lower in England than in Scotland, and this gap is widening, the report added.

The British Lung Foundation warned that the use of e-cigarettes, which are not available on the NHS, could not be guaranteed to fill the gap created by the drop in prescriptions. E-cigarette use had plateaued among smokers since early 2013 and their use among recent ex-smokers had declined from a peak in 2016.

Public health cuts

Professor Stephen Spiro, honorary medical adviser to the British Lung Foundation said: ‘Many smokers cannot get the medication they need to quit because of the decisions made by their local health services.

‘These decisions are of course not taken lightly or, in some cases, willingly. They are a result of the erosion of government funding for stop smoking support. In England, the national cuts in public health funding will total over £600m by 2021. This report shows that we’re reaping the very real effects of sustained cuts to funding. Yet again we must call for these damaging reductions to local public health funding to be reversed.

‘This report also shows how – to cut costs – decisions are being taken by a growing number of CCGs to stop GPs from prescribing clinically-effective and appropriate medication for smokers. This is a travesty.‘

The British Lung Foundation said all smokers should be able to expect their GP to provide access to stop smoking medication, either by issuing a prescription or referral to a specialist service.

It called on commissioners to remove any unfair restrictions on which types and how many approved stop smoking products could be prescribed.

Don’t be fooled, Matt Hancock will be no better for the NHS than Jeremy Hunt was

Independent 11 July 2018
A huge apparatus of the corporate and financial elite has hijacked policy making. The hollowing out and co-opting of democratic institutions is one of the ghastly legacies of neoliberalism Youssef El-Gingihy.

Jeremy Hunt became a lightning rod for the medical profession’s dissatisfaction and the wider public’s disgruntlement with an NHS pushed to breaking point. He has departed following the announcement of a £20bn NHS birthday funding package and will hope that this enhances his legacy as the longest serving health secretary.

Labour shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth took a different view tweeting that Hunt’s toxic legacy includes £9bn of NHS privatisation, 4 million on waiting lists, 100,000 staff vacancies and A&E in a “humanitarian crisis”.

As I wrote last week, the funding package comes with strings attached to a US-style model of accountable/integrated healthcare, with the danger of carving up health and social care multibillion pound 10- to 15-year contracts for private healthcare and insurance companies.

Hunt promoted patient safety as his obsession. And yet since 2010, there have been 120,000 excess deaths in health and social care linked to austerity. In 2015 alone, there were 30,000 excess deaths with the likely main cause being health and social care system failures linked to cuts. Cuts and privatisation are not exactly a recipe for patient safety.

It is likely that Hunt will be remembered for precipitating the junior doctors’ strikes over the imposition of a new contract. Undoubtedly some will have celebrated the departure of Hunt. Don’t be fooled, Hunt was merely a figurehead. His new replacement Matt Hancock is likely to be no better.

Hancock has already waded into controversy over £32,000 in donations from Neil Record – the current chairman of right-wing think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) appointed in 2015 after seven years on its board. The IEA describes itself as the original free market think tank. It was instrumental in the emergence of neoliberalism – the free market orthodoxy entailing deregulation, financialisation, privatisation and shrinking the public sector.

Its head of health and welfare Kristian Niemitz is in favour of NHS privatisation and its replacement with an insurance system. Only last week, Kate Andrews from the IEA recorded a video (to coincide with the NHS birthday) for BBC Newsnight arguing for the overhaul of the NHS.

Hancock voted in favour of the Lansley Health and Social Care Act 2012, which has led to NHS outsourcing to the private sector doubling from 4 per cent to 8 per cent between 2009-10 and 2015-16. He also voted in favour of removing limits on how much foundation trust hospitals could earn through private patient income. This little known provision in the Lansley Act means that hospitals are legally enabled to make up to half their income from private patients.

The Lansley Act devolved the control of the NHS to bodies, such as NHS England. If any single person is responsible for the NHS, then it is Simon Stevens, the chief executive of NHS England.

Stevens was health adviser to New Labour health secretary Alan Milburn and then Tony Blair. He was described by the Financial Timesas one of the architects of NHS marketisation. Stevens helped expand the limited internal market into an extensive market through public-private partnerships, such as the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), and the expansion of outsourcing in clinical services.

He swished through the revolving door to work for the best part of a decade as a senior executive for UnitedHealth – the largest American private healthcare and insurance corporation. In 2013, he was appointed as chief executive of NHS England.

The Stevens career arc is only part of a much bigger story – the corporate capture of democracy through the revolving door, the encirclement of Westminster by lobbyists and the outsourcing of policy to think tanks. A huge apparatus of the corporate and financial elite has hijacked policy making. The hollowing out and co-opting of democratic institutions is one of the ghastly legacies of neoliberalism.

As a result, big banks – caught red-handed in one nefarious scandal after another – have financed (and in some cases effectively own) NHS hospitals. They are profiting from over £300 billion of PFI debt for the entire UK. Big three management consultancies help write health policy. Big four accountancy firms are paid millions to restructure NHS services through a massive programme of cuts and closures. The creation of chains of super hospitals and networks of GP surgeries paves the way for potential private equity and hedge fund takeovers.

Don’t be fooled, the replacement of Hunt with Hancock merely represents a changing of the guard.

A new, updated and expanded edition of ‘How to Dismantle the NHS in 10 Easy Steps‘ by Youssef El-Gingihy published by Zero books will be out later this summer

NHS 70th Birthday Celebrations South Warwickshire 5th and 7th July & Eleanor Smith’s bill to reinstate the NHS 11th July 2018

On July 5th SWKONP celebrated the NHS’s 70th birthday outside Leamington Town Hall. We attracted plenty of shoppers with our cakes, and our petition fighting the Coventry and Warwickshire STP (re-branded ‘Better Health, Better Care and Better Value’) plans to cut £267million from the NHS budget.


And great turn-out for 7th July Labour Party NHS 70th birthday stall. A great complement to 5th July (the actual birthday) SWKONP NHS 70th birthday stall.
LP July 7 IMG_0965 2

11th July 2018

Birthday celebrations followed by Eleanor Smith’s bill to reinstate the NHS, backed by the shadow health team, successfully went through the 10 Minute Rule procedure today and goes on to its second reading, scheduled for October. (We will learn later where it is on the agenda and what chance of it being taken.) The MP for Wolverhampton South West was delighted and thanked Jon Ashworth for his full backing. Both of them sincerely thanked the campaigners who have fought so hard to ‘renationalise the NHS’ – as Jon Ashworth prefers to say! We had a very good turnout at short notice, with supporters from KONP groups in Bristol, Brighton, Waltham Forest, Ealing, Hammersmith & Fulham, Camden, Hackney, Lambeth, Lewisham, Greenwich and Chingford LP councillor Zia-Ur Rehman. On now to a full draft of the legislation Labour will develop with us prepared in readiness to take back our NHS fully into public domain once again as soon as this government falls.

Some photos:

SWKONP joined the NHS 70th Birthday march in London, June 30th 2018

The NHS 70th Birthday march in London was a success. For a hot summer’s day, 50,000 marching was a good turnout.

Worth listening to BBC Eastern Counties Justin Dealey – discussing #ourNHS70 demo today with KONP Co-chair, Tony O’Sullivan

From 46:55 > 54:00
And on Labour List July 3rd 2018, Jonathan Ashworth writes:

This week, NHS bosses are warning that the Tory health budget won’t be enough to deliver the radical improvements in cancer and mental health care we’ve been promised. We’re also learning more about the Tory tax rises on the way, as The Guardian tells us Philip Hammond is thinking of ending the freeze on fuel duty. Every day between now and the November budget, Tory MPs should explain to their constituents which tax rises they plan to impose.

Of course our NHS has now suffered from eight years of austerity, cuts and privatisation. Around £9bn of contracts have been handed over to private providers, often in community health services or patient transport this year. And indeed when a private provider doesn’t win a contract they sue the NHS! Virgin Care should hand that money back. It’s why we are so committed to ending privatisation and restoring a public NHS.

Today on LabourList we hear what privatisation means for staff and patients. Geoff Hough, who works for South Central Ambulance Service, details the shambles of the privatisation patient transport staff in Sussex – a contract that has now thankfully been brought back in-house after millions of pounds were wasted.

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea writes for us on the latest backdoor privatisation happening at the moment, where hospital trusts have started transferring staff into ‘wholly owned subsidiaries’. Unions across the country have already taken industrial action, including at Wigan where both I and Jeremy Corbyn have expressed our solidarity with striking staff.

Also writing from the frontline is Andy Jones, who has worked for over 35 years in hospital catering. His mantra is ‘food is the best form of medicine’. Some hospitals, according to official data, are spending less than £3 a day on patient meal. That’s why I’ve pledged that the next Labour government will enforce strict minimum standards on hospital food.

Brexit continues to dominate the national news and of course the NHS will be hit hard when, for example, 45 million packs of medicine move from the UK to the EU every month while at the same time 37 million packs move from the EU to the UK. Ben Bradshaw warns of the consequences of a ‘no deal’ Brexit for the NHS.

And photos from the June 30th London#OurNHS70 march:

Labour commits to legislation to reinstate the NHS


As we approach the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the NHS, very many also had their eye on 11 July when Eleanor Smith, MP for Wolverhampton South West was due to present her NHS Bill under the Ten Minute Rule procedure (a 10 minute speech, no discussion usually, and then a formal passage on to a second reading). When this was withdrawn at short notice, there were questions and anxiety. A prompt statement 22 June from Jon Ashworth, Shadow Secretary of State for Health & Social Care included an invitation to key figures to meet at the House of Commons to discuss Labour’s plans for legislative recovery of the NHS back to public hands. Following that meeting 27 June the following statement has been released with the agreement of the participants in that meeting. They include Jon Ashworth MP, Allyson Pollock (co-author of the NHS Reinstatement Bill with Peter Roderick, who was also present), John Lister and Tony O’Sullivan (the two co-chairs of KONP), Alex Scott-Samuel (Socialist Health Association chair) and Sue Richards (KONP executive) – they were mover and seconder of Composite 8 at the September Labour conference – and HCT officers.
We are moving forward with increased influence for campaigners.

John Lister, co-chair Keep Our NHS Public and editor of the Health Campaigns Together paper

Labour commits to legislation to reinstate the NHS

Campaigners are set to play a leading role in shaping Labour legislation to reverse the 2012 Health and Social Care Act and end the fragmentation and privatisation of the NHS.

That was the positive outcome of a constructive meeting called in Westminster by Labour’s Shadow Health and Social Care Secretary Jonathan Ashworth MP earlier today (June 27).

The meeting brought together representatives and advisors from the shadow health team and Labour Leader’s office and health policy advisors, along with Eleanor Smith MP who had planned to move the NHS Reinstatement Bill as a 10 minute Bill on July 11, Allyson Pollock and Peter Roderick the authors of the Bill, the Socialist Health Association, Health Campaigns Together, and Keep Our NHS Public.

It was called as an urgent response to the decision last week by the Labour whips’ office not to support Eleanor Smith’s Bill for parliamentary procedural reasons, and to address the subsequent criticism and fears expressed by campaigners in social media that this decision represented a retreat by the Labour leadership from a full commitment end privatisation in the NHS, reverse the 2012 Act and reinstate the NHS.

Jonathan Ashworth underlined his support for the underlying principles of the NHS Reinstatement Bill, and also stressed the PLP’s record of implementing the various commitments for campaigning as set out in last year’s Labour Conference Composite motion 8. He explained that his intention in calling the meeting had been to find ways in which legislation which all can support could be developed through a process of collaboration and consultation.

Campaigners were repeatedly assured that Labour’s leadership is committed to proposing its own Bill in the first Queen’s Speech of a Labour government that would embody the principles of the NHS Reinstatement Bill. The explanation of the decision to pull support from Eleanor Smith’s Bill was that the level of detail that it included is too great for tabling at this stage as a 10 minute Bill, with some of it potentially controversial within the Party. In particular significant debates need to be had on how Labour wishes to address the crisis of the heavily privatised social care system currently run through local government, and whether the NHS or local government should take charge of public health.

It was agreed that while this work needed to be done, in the short term, as Eleanor Smith and others argued strongly, a declaration of intent and principle is needed from Labour in this 70thanniversary year of the NHS.

With this in mind the meeting agreed:

  • Jonathan Ashworth and Eleanor Smith would publicly sign up to show their support for the ‘NHS Takeback’ pledges, based on the Reinstatement Bill, that is promoted by the We Own It campaign
  • Labour will seek the earliest opportunity – if possible before the summer recess – to table a shorter version of the Reinstatement Bill as a 10 minute Bill, to be moved by Eleanor Smith. This would echo the Takeback pledges and the NHS Reinstatement Bill as previously tabled.
  • Further detailed meetings will take place beginning immediately – between the Leader’s office, the shadow health team and the drafters of the Reinstatement Bill, but also on a wider level to draw in and engage with campaigners, trade unions and other significant stakeholders – to draw up more detailed Labour legislation based on the Reinstatement Bill. Meetings will also take place with other committees as appropriate with the aim of developing an agreed draft Bill by the end of 2018 suitable for inclusion in a Queen’s Speech.
  • Campaigners will continue to work with and advise Jon Ashworth and the shadow health team in responding to any NHS England proposals for new legislation or amendments to the Health & Social Care Act that might be tabled by the current government. Joint efforts to expose and challenge privatisation and encourage those such as the Wigan strikers who are actively fighting it will continue.

The unique and historic nature of this meeting and these agreed proposals was stressed by Jon Ashworth and recognised by the meeting. This unprecedented level of collaboration is a result of years of hard work on the ground by campaigners.

The result will be a stronger and broader campaign in Parliament and across the country for legislation that will restore and improve the NHS as a publicly owned, publicly funded, publicly provided and publicly accountable service.

Be there on Saturday 30 June – 12pm Portland Place, London W1A 1AA.