Friday 5th July – NHS 65th Birthday Celebration – Poole Hospital

Meet on the pavement by the main entrance steps to Poole General Hospital from 6pm on Friday 5th July.

The NHS will be 65 years old on the 5th July 2013. Take some time out to celebrate the wonderful achievements of our NHS over the last 65 years. And to highlight it’s biggest threat since its founding.

The NHS has given us improved life chances, security in times of need, pioneering treatment, and care, life without the NHS is hard to imagine. Three years of this coalition government has seen the dismantling, the selling off, the privatisation of the NHS… and the next 65 Years could look very different. Help be part of the celebration of what we have had, and show our intentions to defend it against government cuts.

Bring a banner, placard, cake, flask, balloon,flowers, tributes, and highlight our NHS for the good it’s done and the threat it’s under.

Facebook Event Page

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Despairing NHS – Video and Lyrics

Despairing NHS – Video and Lyrics (to the tune of Clementine)

nhsIn the darkness, six feet under,
Bevan turning in his grave
Sixty-five years of free healing,
The NHS he cannot save.

Oh our caring, oh our sharing, now despairing NHS,
Thou art lost and gone for profit,
Privatised to serve the rich.

All the doctors, and the nurses,
Cleaners, porters do their best,
But their efforts no longer valued
In the growing profits quest.

Drug companies pay for research
And they promise us a cure
But all they want is to take their profit
And to hell with the sick and poor.

Oh our caring, oh our sharing, now despairing NHS,
Thou art lost and gone for profit,
Privatised to serve the rich.

Clegg and Cameron keen to finish
Dismantling done by Brown and Blair,
PFI debts, target culture.
Reorganised for millionaires.

Shipman, Saville, Stafford hospital,
Just how bad can scandals get,
Whistle-blowers, enquiries ignored,
But you ain’t seen nothing yet!

Lyrics by Oliver Swingler & Making Waves choir, Cullercoats
Original Oh my darling Clementine: traditional
Version 2 May 2013

The Great Train Robbery

Rail privatisation has failed to deliver for rail users and taxpayers; has brought in little private sector investment and private train companies are heavily dependent upon the public purse to enable them to run services, according to a new TUC- commissioned report, The Great Train Robbery – written by the Centre for Research on Social-Cultural Change (CRESC) at the University of Manchester.

And when train companies do make a profit, barely any of it is re-invested in the railways, says the study. It reveals that those firms receiving the largest state subsidies spend, on average, over 90 per cent of their profits on shareholder dividends.

This contrasts sharply with the East Coast Mainline, which is currently state run and which re-invests all of its profits into improving the service.

great train robbery network rail private investment

The Great Train Robbery looks at many of the key objectives behind the decision of John Major’s government to privatise the railways in 1994. The report questions whether any of these have been achieved:

  • Cost effectiveness – train operating companies are entirely reliant upon public subsidies to run services. The top five recipients alone received almost £3bn in taxpayer support between 2007 and 2011. This allowed them to make operating profits of £504m – over 90 per cent (£466m) of which was paid to shareholders.
  • Extra investment – the report shows how the average age of trains has risen since rail privatisation, from 16 years in 1996 to 18 years old today. Just £1.9bn was spent on rolling stock between 2008 and 2012, compared to £3.2bn between 1989 and 1993 (the four years before privatisation.)
  • Over 90 per cent of new investment in recent years has been financed by Network Rail (the taxpayer funded body responsible for rail infrastructure), and comes mainly from taxpayer funding or government-underwritten borrowing, says the report.
  • Significant upgrades to infrastructure, such as the development of the West Coast Mainline, have been paid for by Network Rail.
  • Passenger comfort – the report says while there has been a 60 per cent increase in passengers since 1994/95, there has only been a 3 per cent increase in new carriages, resulting in serious overcrowding on many routes.
  • Innovation – even where there has been private sector investment in new technology, such as Virgin’s tilting trains, it has been underwritten by the state through subsidies to train operating companies and guarantees to rolling stock leasing companies.
  • Added value – The Great Train Robbery shows how train operating companies paid Network Rail just £1.59bn in track access charges in 2012, compared to £3.18bn paid to its predecessor Railtrack in 1994. This represents an ‘indirect subsidy’ from taxpayers as train companies are getting track access on the cheap. It also means that the full extent of taxpayer subsidy is far greater than is often reported.
  • Investment in infrastructure has largely been funded through borrowing by Network Rail which now has debts of over £30bn, and is spending more on repaying this debt than on railway maintenance, says the report.
  • Competitive fares – the UK has the most expensive rail fares in Europe. Long distance, day return and season tickets are all around twice the price of similar tickets in France, Germany, Italy and Spain, which have publicly-run rail systems. Average train fares in the UK increased at three times the rate of average wages between 2008 and 2012.
  • More passengers – the report dismisses claims that privatisation has helped increase the number of people travelling on the railways.It says that passenger growth has mostly been down to rising GDP and changes in employment patterns rather than because of privatisation.

Great train robbery net profits dividends

Commenting on the report, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘This study explodes the myth that rail firms are bringing added value to our railways. In reality they rely upon taxpayers to turn a profit, virtually all of which ends up in shareholders’ pockets, rather than being used to improve services.

‘Rail privatisation has not brought the improvements its cheerleaders promised – the average age of trains has increased and most new investment is funded by the state.

‘The claim that private train operators are responsible for more people using the railways must also be taken with a huge pinch of salt. Passenger growth has mirrored changes in the wider economy and is not the result of creative marketing drives by companies.

‘The government must accept that the current model is broken. Its determination to impose franchising across the network – even on the East Coast Mainline which is performing well as a nationalised service – shows ministers are ignoring the evidence of 20 years of failure.’

CRESC Director Professor Karel Williams said: ‘The privately owned train operating companies have hijacked the government’s rail reform agenda which is all about ‘getting franchising back on track’.

‘Our research shows how the franchising system allows them to distribute profits at low cost from public subsidy.

‘It would make sense to abolish the train operating companies and it would cost the taxpayer nothing if it were done as the franchises expired.

”Train and track operation could then be integrated under a new publicly-owned National Rail, operating within defined budgets over sustained funding periods.’

The Great Train Robbery says that:

  • Train operating companies should be abolished as a crucial first step. This could be achieved within the next ten years as companies have relatively short leases with contract termination points and there is no requirement for shareholder compensation when the franchises expire.
  • Train and rail infrastructure should be organised by a new not for profit company, National Rail, built around the core of Network Rail.
  • Just as with Crossrail in London, the government should introduce a business levy to raise extra funds for the railways. The report estimates this could generate £21bn a year.

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Save Our Royal Mail

Not everything in life should be defined by its monetary value. Royal Mail is part of the fabric of the nation but it is under threat of being ripped apart. If the Royal Mail is sold off:

  • Prices will go up
  • Business will be squeezed
  • The countryside will be isolated
  • Services for the blind will be scrapped
  • Free post for HM Armed Forces will be stopped
  • Heritage will be lost

Save Our Royal Mail are campaigning to persuade politicians that they must act now and guarantee that these vital services do not disappear. They have the support of groups and individuals representing the countryside, the blind and partially sighted, the elderly and small businesses. You can help them by getting involved. Use the social networking tools on their site to promote the campaign and most importantly write to your MP setting out your concerns. As the campaign grows so will their site. So please return to them regularly to keep updated on news and other campaign developments.

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Police sponsorship deals: the thin end of the wedge of police privatisation

In a recent article in the Daily Echo, Martyn Underhill, the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) for Dorset said he would consider sponsorship deals with “reputable organisations”. He said ideas could include adverts on police cars, website links or plugs on Twitter and that there was “huge potential” in sponsorship, but it would be long-term. He added: “This will help us to plan and sustain projects that might otherwise not have been possible due to the ongoing financial constraints.”

He also advised that he had already spoken to a possible sponsor. So if the government’s savage programme of austerity is anything to go by, it may not be too long before we see something along these lines patrolling our streets:

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Mr Underhill’s election slogan was “keep politics out of policing”, so it is disappointing to see him advocating the introduction of private sector finance to fund policing. He may see this as assisting in planning and sustaining projects but most recent examples where private sector money has been used in place of government funding have ended in abject failure, like for example PFI funding.

Sponsorship deals of the police may only be the small end of the wedge regarding opening up the police service to the the private sector but it is still a legitimate concern and however it is spun, it is a political decision in line with the policies of the current government.

Although both West Midlands and Surrey Police have deferred plans to partially privatise their forces, the chief of G4S, the world’s biggest security firm, has predicted that private companies will be running large parts of the UK’s police service within five years. Ironically one of the driving factors behind Surrey’s decision to suspend the decision to sell off services was their reservations about one of the partner groups, G4S, following their shambolic failure to provide adequate numbers of security staff for the Olympics. If you have any doubts about whether police services should be outsourced to private companies, the logic against it, is there for all to see in a nutshell.

The role of a PCC is yet another scatter brain policy of the coalition and the elections attracted very little public interest. In Dorset the turnout was 16.77% which was higher than the national average. Of those who bothered to vote, 45.2% marked Martyn Underhill as their first preference. This equates to 7.38% of the electorate in Dorset, so hardly an overwhelming mandate to make radical decisions as to how our police force is funded. Also there was no mention of ‘sponsorship deals’ in his manifesto.

The Police Federation have been warning for some time now that the cuts to Police budgets will inevitably hit the front line and Trade Unions such as Unite and Unison have been running campaigns against police privatisation.

Fighting crime takes teamwork. From the bobby on the street to the investigators and forensic experts gathering information to secure a conviction. Police forces need a joined up force working together to serve and protect the people. If you break up and sell off chunks of the service to ‘profit first’ companies, police forces will not be more efficient – it will put lives at risk.

When you have the likes of G4S and Serco waiting in the wings to bid to run core crime functions, such as 999 call handling, custody and detention, investigating crime forensics and patrolling neighbourhoods, you know public policing is under threat,

Police sponsorship deals may be the thin edge of the wedge of police privatisation but if you believe that our police force should remain in the public sector, do not allow the door leading to privatisation to be pushed further ajar. Please make your PCC aware of your views. Click here for Martyn Underhill’s contact details.

Bournemouth Council supporting the ‘sell off’ of public services

At a time when local authorities’ budgets are being savagely cut by central govt leading to the loss of public sector jobs and services; it seems reasonable to expect that our local councils would be doing everything in their power to use all their available resources to support and retain public services. However that does not seem to be the case with Bournemouth Borough Council.

An event is being advertised on the website of Business Events in Dorset under the heading “Winning Public Sector Business – an introduction to bid writing/tendering”. It has the full backing of the Bournemouth Borough Council and similar events have been held for several years which were presumably funded by them.

The half day free workshop session is aimed at small & medium sized enterprises “looking for any Public Sector Contract” and encourages them to “book NOW on a ‘Winning public sector business’ workshop so you can avoid the typical mistakes and pick up tips and best practice when completing a PQQ, ITT or tender document” to give them the best chance of winning. The workshop is described as a “mixture of presentation, case study, group work and most importantly for you working on a tender that you could bid for.”

Even if we put aside the fact it is highly questionable whether the council should be tendering out our public services to the highest bidder; what mandate do they have to use local taxpayer’s money to encourage and support businesses in that very act?

Locally Bournemouth Council is shedding hundreds of jobs through ‘efficiency savings’ – yes that means cuts – and many employees who were employed by the council are being transferred to private sector employers. This very often leads to the employees having to take a cut in pay, changes to shift allowances and lose out on annual leave and sick pay entitlement.

It could be said that the jury is out whether these private sector companies will provide the same level of service to the public. However, most will already have heard stories in the media where it is simply not the case and when a service is moved from the non-profit public sector to a profit making private company, it would seem blindingly obvious that the amount of money made available for the quality of the service offered will severely diminish.

It is also unclear whether services that were constantly audited within the public sector have these rigid checks maintained within the private sector; and it is also unclear who monitors the quality of services being offered. Private companies are also not liable to release information under Freedom of Information requests even though they are providing a public service. Added to this, there is the question of accountability whereby several changes of service providers may lead to any faults / complaints being passed between them whilst they argue who is liable to correct the situation.

Serious questions need to be asked of Bournemouth Borough Council why they make such radical decisions to not only sell off our public’s services but also pay for the training of private companies to assist them in ‘winning’ the contracts.<

The list of contact details for Bournemouth Councillors can be found by clicking here

Ask your MP to pray against Jeremy Hunt’s NHS regulations

Reproduced with the kind permission of Going to Work – click here to view the original page

jeremy-hunt
TAKE ACTION NOW!!!

No, we’re not seeking divine help (just yet) over Jeremy Hunt’s new NHS competition regulations, but ‘praying against’ them could be a good way of getting them exposed in Parliament.

As things stand, the new regulations count as secondary legislation, which means they need no further debate in Parliament. They’ll come into law on 1 April, and competition for NHS contracts will suddenly become the default in most cases.

This is despite many promises to the contrary given by the government when the Bill was debated last year. Jeremy Hunt is using Parliamentary procedure to sneak privatisation in by the back door.

However, MPs from three parties, including Labour Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, the Greens’ Caroline Lucas and Lib Dem NHS rebel Andrew George (see a list of current signatories) have backed a motion to “pray against” the regulation.

This special form of Early Day Motion is a rarely used piece of Parliamentary jargon, which basically means they’re opening a kind of petition for other MPs to sign, calling for the secondary legislation to be struck out.

If enough MPs can be persuaded to join them in praying against the regulations, the motion’s special status makes it more likely that Parliamentary time will be secured to debate it.

There are signs today that Jeremy Hunt is coming under pressure over this. But we need to keep the pressure up, if we’re going to secure any real changes here.

This motion could be a good chance to get the scrutiny that the government are trying hard to avoid.

Please ask your MP to help pray against back door NHS privatisation now.

Click here to visit the Going to Work website page, enter your postcode and click “Participate” to send an email to your MP.