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CG Joins Rally Against NHS Privatisation

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On the evening before the House of Commons began the third reading of the controversial Health and Social Care Bill, we turned out on Cornmarket Street to urge our MPs to prevent it from going into law. The rally was followed by a meeting of Keep Our NHS Public in the Town Hall. Oxford East MP Andrew Smith has already responded by saying "I will vote for the amendments my Labour colleagues have tabled which would stop the changes, and if these fall I will vote against the Bill." [Click here to read more]

Free Training for 'Peer Brokers'

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Today we've started to recruit to our new free training course for 'peer brokers'. The course will run on Thursday afternoons throughout the autumn, and will equip people with experience of using health or care services with the knowledge they need to help others in a similar situation. You can find out more by clicking here or by downloading this flier.

3/4 Fail New Sick Benefits Test

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According to new government figures, only 7% of the 1.3 million Incapacity Benefit recipients forced to undergo the new Work Capability Assessment have been found to be incapable of doing any kind of work, whilst another 17% were capable of doing some work with support. 39% were deemed fit for work and told to start looking for jobs, and another 36% simply dropped out of the process (1% hadn't been assessed). This has led some sections of the media to talk about the 'shirking classes'. Predictably the government claimed that this vindicated their policies, but more than 50 disability groups are convinced that the figures are bogus. [Click here to read more].

Vacancies At Age UK

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Local charity Age UK Oxfordshire are trying to fill 2 vacancies in their support brokerage team. They're looking for an Administrator and a specialist Support Broker to support people with general and physical disabilities. The closing date is 22nd July, and the application forms can be downloaded from here.

BMA Rejects Government Concessions

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The British Medical Association, the trade union that represents doctors in the UK, has voted today to call for the government's controversial Health and Social Care Bill to be withdrawn. In response to widespread opposition to the Bill, the government had launched a 'listening exercise' and promised to make a number of revisions as a result. But the core proposals - widening competition and privatisation - remained. Today's resolution will give heart to the many groups and individuals who still hope to prevent the government's proposals from becoming law.

ConDems Don't Show At NHS Debate

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Lib Dem Evan Harris and Tory Tony Baldry both failed to show up at last night's Public Meeting. Plenty of local people, though, turned out to hear Dr. Jacky Davis (co-founder of Keep Our NHS Public) and express their support for the NHS. Jacky captured the mood of the meeting as she summed up her presentation.

 

"So you know, what we've got to remember is that the NHS doesn't belong to Andrew Lansley, it belongs to the people who pay for it - that's us, it belongs to the people who use it - that's us, and it belongs to the people who work in it ... and we cannot stand by and let them break it up and sell it off. And if we have to take to the streets then I'm afraid that's what we'll have to do, but after this [listening] exercise, the fight has to go on." Click here for short video clip (10 MB)

CG Voices Concerns On Local Radio

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Community Glue went on BBC Radio Oxford's Phil Mercer Show today to give an opinion on the NHS Futures Forum's recommendations, which were published earlier today. We drew people's attention to the dangers of handing over large chunks of the health and social care system to the private sector, as evidenced by the current difficulties of private company Southern Cross. It seems like it will be forced to sell off 132 of its 750 or so homes, as well as sacking 3,000 of its 44,000 staff. Southern Cross claims it won't affect people's care, but people are rightly sceptical. The difference between Southern Cross and the NHS, at the moment, is that the latter is run by the state. Now the NHS has run out of money, it's ultimately the responsibility of the Department of Health and the ministers who run it to decide how much money can be saved without hurting patients; we may not like them, but at least we can vote for someone else in 4 years. With Southern Cross it seems it's the company's creditors - the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Lloyds Group - who will finally say how far the cuts will have to go, or even whether the company survives. The proposed revisions to the Health and Social Care Bill include slowing down the privatisation process, but crucially not preventing it. That's why we believe public and patients' rights groups should still oppose the Bill.

NHS Futures Forum Says' Slow Down'

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The NHS Futures Forum, which was set up as a part of the government's 'Listening Exercise' in relation to the Health and Social Care Bill, has finally produced its recommendations. The BBC has branded it a 're-write' rather than 'back to the drawing board'. Recommended changes include:

  • Ensuring that the Secretary of State for Health remains ultimately responsible for the NHS. 
  • Assessing the readiness of GP Consortia to commission services before handing over responsibility.
  • Introducing safeguards to stop the private providers from 'cherry picking' patients.

Worryingly though, plans to turn the NHS into a 'market' are still there, although increasing the role of the private sector should no longer be seen as an end in itself. Similarly the Forum has recommended widening representation from GPs to be more inclusive of other groups of clinicians, but not to 'expert patients' or representatives of 'disabled' people.

 

People who want to talk to Oxfordshire MP Tony Baldry and Ex MP Evan Harris about the proposals can come to a Public Meeting at Oxford Town Hall on Thursday 16th June at 7:30 pm, organised by the Oxfordshire branch of campaign group Keep Our NHS Public.

Community Glue Defends The NHS

Community Glue Defends The NHS

We have just completed and submitted our response to the 'Listening Exercise' organised by the Department of Health in response to the huge wave of concern voiced by the public, professional bodies and patient groups. Of course we argued for greater patient control, but within a framework where the NHS is still publicly funded and free at the point of delivery. Meanwhile last week the campaign to stop the Health and Social Care Bill  was still gaining momentum, with a demonstration in Oxford (sadly we were out of town, but see their photos) by Save Our Services and KONHSP and adverts by 38 Degrees in the national press (we chipped in - out of our own pockets, not Community Glue's few farthings of reserves!).
Photo by Chris Honeywell.

Mary Warnock Naive About Euthanasia

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This weekend I've been at the Hay Festival (this year sponsored by the Torygraph). The highlight of Sunday's programme was Mary Warnock plugging her book 'Dishonest to God'. In it she argues a position I fundamentally agree with - that morality doesn't need to stem from religious belief, and a modern legal system is better articulated as a negotiation between people than as an interpretation of divine will. One of the questions at the end of the session related to Euthanasia - a subject on which Mary has got in to trouble in the past (largely undeservedly, in my opinion). On this occasion she repeated her not unreasonable view that people should have the option to 'pull the plug' on their own lives if the future becomes intolerable. But was she being naive in overlooking the fact that disability rights groups are almost universally against proposals to legalise medically assisted suicide? [click here to read more]

Law Commission Recommends New Principles for Community Care

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The Law Commission today produced their hotly anticipated recommendations for the reform of social care law. The review was initiated under New Labour in 2008, and intended to make recommendations about what could be used to replace the patchwork of legislation that underpins people's entitlement to support from Local Authorities. It was the National Assistance Act of 1948 that mapped the basic framework of Local Authorities' obligations within the Welfare State, but successive governments have chosen to amend the legislation rather than replace it. The result is a barely comprehensible muddle that seems to give inidividual local authorities the capacity to interpret entitlements very differently (see the ongoing debate around the FACS criteria). [Click here to read more]

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