Friday, 19 August 2011


Two members of the steering group of Furness Against the Cuts attended a public meeting organised by the Westmorland and Lonsdale Constituency Labour Party held on Thursday 14 July at the Shakespeare Centre, Kendal.

The meeting, called to address government proposals to sell off the most highly profitable parts of the National Health Service to private companies, was attended by about 45 persons - not one of whom was under the age of 50.

The panel (left to right) consisted of Paul Gardner (Royal College of Nursing), Tim Ells (Unison), Chairman Paul Braithwaite (W&L CLP) and Doctor David Wrigley, GP (Keep Our NHS Public campaign).

Dr Wrigley, a member of the British Medical Association Council, described the remarkable step forward when, 64 years ago, the National Health Service was introduced.  Minister Bevan described this as a Milestone in History and a Civilised Step for it provided health care for all that was free at the point of need.  Gone was the great fear of falling ill and having to meet a doctor's bill for teat ment and medication.  No health and social care for vulnerable people should rely upon service provided by some business that could, like some retail company, fail and be bankrupted (liquidation of Southern Cross homes is a good example of this). Dr Wrigley explained how the Private and Public Finance Initiative (PPFI), introduced by the previous Labour government, has cost £65 billion for a value of just £25 billion.

Tim Ellis stated the need to be fully resourced and trusted.  He stated contributions to the public purse would be much greater if the 49 richest people and 220 companies in this country that PAY NO TAX were to pay the estimated £120 billion lost through their tax evasion.  The current White Paper is about introducing competition into the NHS and should not be amended but killed off. Public pressure could sink this bill just as it did Thatcher's bid to introduce the Poll Tax in the 1980s.  However, top Tories had noted public opposition, feared this would have electoral consequences and so pressed Thatcher to drop it.

Paul Gardner reported 98% of delegates attending the RCN conference in Liverpool gave a vote of 'No Confidence' on the current Secretary of State. The RCN was severely critical of commissioning by GP fund-holders and strongly suggested there be a nurse on every commissioning body.  Essentially, priorities are: quality of care, safety, assessment level of safety and of risks during and following hospital treatment and that the experience of the patient must be positive.  Minister Lansley's agenda undermined these.

There followed some good contibutions by members of the audience with, of course, one by the token defeatist "These cuts will go through so what we've got to do is see how we can reduce their impact on people."

The meeting ended with an overwhelming vote to ask our local Members of Parliament to oppose the Health and Social Care bill.

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