This week saw the biggest pickets yet at Whipps Cross, with Esther Neslen presenting work by local artists in support of the junior doctors. Public support is growing across the country. With the government hoping to turn us against the strikers its important we maintain active support.
Doctors are saying Care UK shows ‘total disregard’ for patient safety. This company has no place in our NHS. Please protect patients and kick Care UK out of our hospitals. Sign the petition.
Why is this important?
The truth about NHS privatisation has been exposed. An undercover investigation has found shocking care failures by private health business Care UK. It’s been caught leaving dangerously ill patients waiting for hours, and using work experience students instead of nurses.
This is what happens when private companies get their hands on our NHS. Care UK boasts that they are the single biggest business helping to privatise the NHS. If we can kick them out of our NHS, it’ll be a major blow to the government’s privatisation project.
Huge public outcry will pile pressure on hospital bosses to shut the door on Care UK – at every hospital they approach.
Please sign the petition to stop Care UK making a profit out of our hospitals. Your name will be added to a petition to the CCG group where you live – the group of NHS bosses in charge of contracting our local services. Together, let’s prove that Care UK aren’t wanted anywhere near our NHS.
Our campaign against the land sell-off at Whipps Cross Hospital is gathering momentum and we could use your help.
The land would be sold for around £11 million (we have heard). Once sold, that land cannot be used to improve services at Whipps Cross. Barts Health NHS Trust which runs Whipps has a huge deficit, due in part to the massive repayments the trust has to make on PFI deals used to rebuild the Royal London (Whitechapel) and Newham Hospital. The PFI repayments are £131 million per year. £11 million would be a drop in the ocean and it is really not worth compromising the future of Whipps Cross as a viable district hospital.
Please email email@example.com if you would like some postcards for you and your family to sign. We will need these back in early September when we plan to hand them all in to Barts Health’s Board of Directors.
The PFI Scandal
At our recent public meeting Mary Burnett gave this sobering and terrifying summary of the PFI scandal.
I want to talk about the scandal of Private Finance Initiative, PFI. How PFIs have turned our hospitals into investment and profit making opportunities for private companies and big banks. And how I think this amounts to the most insidious privatisation of our health service, that is barely talked about either in the media, or by most of our politicians.
When WX, Newham and Barts & the London merged in 2012 it became the biggest hospital Trust in the country. With the biggest PFI – used to build the new Royal London and to redevelop Barts. These hospitals cost just over £1bn to build, but Barts will pay more than £7bn over the 42 years of the PFI contract.
And Barts now has the biggest hospital debt in the country – over £93m.
In 2002 George Monbiot wrote in “ Private Affluence, Public Rip- Off” “ A study by a consultancy company which works for the DoH shows that every £200m spent on PFI hospitals will result in the loss of 1000 doctors and nurses. The first PFI hospitals contain some 28 fewer beds than the ones they replaced”.
And in an article in the Guardian in 2013 John Lister wrote : “ PFI is the reason why – no matter how many mgt consultants are paid £1000s a day, or what horrific plan an administrator might hatch up – there is no solution within the Barts Trust without wholesale cuts in services and staffing that would potentially put patient care at risk”.
And that’s exactly what’s happened. Before it was built, the 2 top floors at the Royal London were mothballed. There are now plans to have a wing there for private patients – despite ambulance queues at WX.
And in 2013/14 we saw posts cut, staff downbanded, Charlotte’s dismissal, staff leaving, a growing culture of bullying, rising agency costs, – all culminating in the CQC report on WX and Barts → special measures.
So why do PFIs destabilise hospitals? Why are they such a scandal?
PFIs involve private companies, and investment banks raising loans to build hospitals ( or schools, roads, prisons ).The companies/banks then own the buildings – at least for the duration of the contract, and any services or maintenance are tied into the contract. It’s been likened to taking out a mortgage for your home and having any maintenance, repairs, decoration, provided by one specified company, and tied into your mortgage contract.
So at Barts, Skanska and Innisfree – a construction and investment company respectively – own and operate the PFI. Barts leases the hospitals, and pays Skanska and Innisfree a charge that includes capital costs, interest repayments, and the cost of the services. This year that charge is £2.5m a week. In 10 years it will increase – because the interest is index linked – by a massive 26% to £3.2 m a week. That’s the pressure that results in cuts.
And across the country we have 118 hospital PFIs and 720 PFI contracts in total.
So what’s the scandal?
1) The interest being paid to banks and private investors is at least 1.5 – 2 % higher than if the hospital had been funded through govt borrowing. And for some of the loan, the interest is as high as 15%. Barts is £93m in deficit this year, and paid £43m in interest alone on its PFIs.
2) And there’s a whole market in companies refinancing the debt and selling on their shares in PFIs. Between 1998 and 2010 there were 166 transactions in shares held by companies in health PFIs. Not only does this show the confidence investment banks and business have in the profits they can make, it also illustrates, with alarming clarity, how much our hospitals have become enmeshed in the financial markets. And the amounts being made can be quite staggering. Carillion, for example, has had shares in more than 17 hospital PFIs and boasts they lead the market in selling them on. They made a cool £12m on a £4m investment in a hospital in Kent, and nearly £20m on a £12m investment in Portsmouth.
3) And profit making doesn’t end with high interest rates or selling shares. The services provided through the PFI contract can be a nice little earner for those involved.
– Skanska and Innisfree took £22.7m in 8 years just for buying in the services as part of the Barts PFI contract.
– The contract at Barts to provide services like portering, cleaning and catering is worth £30m a year to Carillion
– and last year Barts managed to withdraw 3 services from the PFI contract and saved 50% on the costs.
4) And when profits drive service provision, it’s no surprise that staff and quality can suffer. Carillion is mired in controversy at the Gt Western Hospital in Swindon, where it provides, under a PFI contract, like at Barts, services like portering, catering and cleaning. There’s been such problems with the services that the Chief Exec of the Trust said in September 2014 : “ concerns about food hygiene and cleanliness have posed a potential risk to patients, visitors, and staff which is completely unacceptable”. The Chief Exec added : “ there remain serious concerns about Carillion’s ability to deliver services to the required standard”
Over the next 5 years, the cost of the Barts and Royal London PFI will increase by £14m a year – 11%
And in the next 5 years, Barts has to make cuts of £324m – 5% of its turnover.
It’s not do-able.
I believe our hospitals should be places where sick people, at their most vulnerable, can get good care and treatment. Where staff are valued, and where management can focus on the quality of patient care, not on achieving impossible financial targets.
PFIs are haemorrhaging money away from that patient care. They have turned our hospitals into investment and profit making opportunities.
That is the scandal of PFIs.
So What Can We Do?
– Tell people you know about the scandal of PFIs. Break the silence around PFI.
– Find out more – there’s plenty of information out there and good websites to be found on the back of our leaflet
– Sign our petition calling for an end to the PFI at Barts – there are paper copies at the back or you can sign on line on 38 degrees website
– Join our local campaign or the Barts pfi campaign – there are details on our leaflets.
Campaigning costs money and we are always in need of funds to keep our work moving and we now have the ability to receive money via paypal via this email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All donations gratefully received.
NHS in Stitches
NHS In Stitches is brought to you by an army of volunteers including some of Britain’s best comedic talents: Lucy Porter, Stewart Lee, Junior Simpson, Mark Steel, Wendy Wason, Nish Kumar, Francesca Martinez, Slim, Kerry Godliman, Pappy’s, Rufus Hound, and Ed Bennett. On the 28th March 2015 at the Hackney Empire in London, the all-star line up lent their (often quite loud, always hilarious) voices to our call to stand up for the nation’s proudest achievement and most treasured institution: Our NHS.
This is an awareness raising campaign. Please watch and share widely.
This 37 minute film is based on the 2 hour live event. It features a selection of the fantastic stand up sets, sketches, short films from the night. It also includes some back stage interviews with a few of the comedians.
Please note, we would mark this video with the YouTube rating of ‘Strong Language’:
Strong language: Contains some expletives and profanity; however such words are infrequent and not used in a sexual context. This level is appropriate even for content with expletives and profanity bleeped out. It is also appropriate for suggestive dialogue, sexual innuendo, discussion of adult themes, and the expression of strong views and opinions that viewers are likely to find offensive, disrespectful, or otherwise controversial.
On Saturday 25th April, members of Waltham Forest Save our NHS will join the People vs. PFI and other campaign groups on a tour of East London. Our aims are to protest and raise awareness of the burdensome PFI debt at Barts Heath NHS Trust which runs Whipps Cross Hospital.
Barts Health is 10 years into a 40 year contract with Innisfree and Skanska, the companies that built and are responsible for maintenance and services at The Royal London and Barts Hospitals. Over the length of the PFI contract, for hospitals that cost £1.1bn to build, Barts Health will pay £7.1bn for construction and services. If the Trust defaults on its debt, its hospitals will belong to Innisfree and Skanska and as such will be privatised.
The PFI deals are widely blamed for undermining finances at Barts Health, leaving the trust in an impossible financial position that has led to the recent damning CQC report that landed Whipps Cross Hospital in special measures.
To make matters worse, Barts is paying over the odds for services like catering and cleaning, provided by Carillion – a company with a very poor reputation. More than 50 workers employed by Carillion at Swindon’s Great Western Hospital are taking discrimination cases to an employment tribunal.
We want the borough’s three MPs, if re-elected next month to put party politics aside and to work together on resolving the onerous debt that is weighing down Waltham Forest’s only general hospital as we proposed in our open letter on PFI to Stella Creasy, John Cryer and Iain Duncan Smith.
The NHS campaigners invite fellow borough residents to meet and greet the PFI campaign bus as it tours Walthamstow and Leytonstone. The bus will be stopping at the main entrance to Whipps Cross Hospital at 11.00am to collect ‘passengers’ for the day of campaigning. The PFI bus will move through the borough arriving at the top of Walthamstow market on Hoe Street around 11.15am.
Please sign the petition here calling on Barts Health NHS Trust and NHS England to make immediate, publicly transparent, plans to end the disastrous and unsustainable Barts Health PFI contracts. Six East London hospitals are under threat; with a looming crisis in care, 10% of staff posts lost and wages cut for many employees.
“I am really happy to be returning to work with my team and the rest of the staff at Whipps Cross Hospital and Barts Health NHS Trust. And I look forward to being able to contribute to the work I understand is now under way, in response to the CQC report, to bring about improvement in our hospital. It’s vital that Whipps Cross becomes again a hospital of choice for health staff to work in, where they can provide the best standards of health care to our local population, and find a good future.
Health staff must be able to speak out for their patients and services without fear. They must be free to organise themselves in trade unions and stand as representatives knowing that their rights as a union rep will be respected, and that the role of an independent union campaigning for the interests of the staff, their patients and services is also respected. These were issues at the heart of my case. Its resolution will I hope contribute to building a climate of openness and confidence so needed in our health service.
I want to thank my union UNISON for its backing and support in taking my case to tribunal, and to thank our highly committed legal team. I have been moved and inspired by the support from colleagues, from health campaigners and fellow trade unionists, and so many other people. It has held me up through some pretty difficult times and brought home that the issues I faced have far wider significance for people.
Together we are standing up for what we believe in and this has made all the difference. Let’s continue to do so for the future of our NHS.”
Charlotte Monro, 31st March 2015
Today Bart’s Health issued the following statement:
Barts Health NHS Trust is pleased to confirm that it has invited Charlotte Monro to return to employment at Whipps Cross Hospital and that Charlotte has accepted the Trust’s invitation.
Full text can be found here.