We are pleased to announce that there has been a statement from Unison, which represents some of the staff due to be transferred to a Wholly Owned Subsidiary company (WOS) or as it was previously referred to, an SPV, that the Hospital Trust has announced it has scrapped the plans. The statement said..
“At a meeting Monday morning UNISON stewards received confirmation from Director Mark Braden
that the Trust has stopped all work, both for now and in the future, on forming a Wholly Owned Subsidiary company.”
Leaflets from the public, and a petition, detailed in the posts below, plus pressure from local MPs, must have tipped the balance.
The changes to Dewsbury Hospital finished in September 2017. Local people now have to travel to Pinderfields Wakefield, for more consultant appointments than formerly and blue light ambulances go there in preference to Dewsbury which is unable to admit patients who are seriously ill. The children’s ward at Dewsbury is closed and the Children’s Assessment Unit (CAU) is open during the day only. There is a midwife led unit for births, but no consultant cover.
The Joint Scrutiny Committee of Kirklees and Wakefield Councils who examined the proposals when they came out and found them unfit for the local population, had referred them to the Secretary of State who in turn sent them to the Independent Reconfiguration Panel (IRP). They in turn looked and ruled that the reservations of the Scrutiny Committee could be addressed by the local Clinical Commissioning Groups. We want to know! Have these concerns been addressed?
Since that time, many other hospital closure and downgrade proposals have been sent to the IRP.
Campaign groups across England are meeting in the House of Commons in September 2018 to highlight the gaps in the IRP processes. This is especially relevant here due to the proposals for Huddersfield which is the 8th largest town in England and will have no blue light hospital. Nor will the district of Kirklees as a whole.
It will be useful for North Kirklees NHS Support Group to have evidence from patients of successes and frustrations (failures) of the lack of a District Hospital and what used to be called Care Closer to Home plus the need to travel further away from home for specialist services, especially childbirth. This evidence can then be used to support other campaign groups and their concerns about their service reductions. It will highlight the gaps in the IRP’s processes.
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Paula Sherriff MP for Dewsbury, Mirfield, Denby Dale and Kirkburton has replied to a request for her views on Wholly Owned Companies/Subsidiary Companies/ Special Purpose Vehicles, whatever you want to call them, in NHS Hospital Trusts. Her first sentence on the subject starts with the phrase “I am alarmed…..” so we are not alone.
The attempts to dismantle the NHS have been going on for over 25 years. The changes to legislation inching closer and closer to the healthcare multinationals global policy aims, become clearer when we find the legislation to allow the SubCos, was introduced in 2006, two years before the need to create the campaign organisation Keep Our NHS Public and probably one of the driving factors in its creation. This is before all but the most eagle eyed of the public, even began to suspect anything untoward.
Messages released by Government are sometimes contradictory. On the one hand you have a letter to Trusts from the Department of health suggesting these companies are not allowed as a mechanism to save VAT, yet the Trusts using that argument as the main motivator for spending the money to do it. Companies need capital to set up that surely could be used for treatment. Why now?
Yesterday in Leeds the landmark England wide Judicial Review brought by a grass roots campaign group 999 Call for the NHS, against NHS England for its proposed Accountable Care Contract, was heard. The case examined a point of law, which the group believe is unlawful in the ACO contract and will encourage providers to cherry pick patients rather than provide comprehensive treatment for all, according to need. Since this is already beginning to happen and patients made to wait, such an outcome seems more likely with every passing day. Even if the campaign wins the Judicial Review, NHS England will have suffered a set back but will be able to try again.
The second Judicial Review is about the new health system Government and NHS England want to legalise, with no recourse to Parliamentary debate or public vote. That is due to be heard on 23rd and 24th May in London.
At the street stalls in Dewsbury and Batley many people came over to take a leaflet and sign the petition. The petition is to ask Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust Directors, to think again before committing to a SPV as they are calling the potential Subsidiary Company wholly owned by the Trust Board.
We are hearing that the staff do not want to be ‘divorced’ from the NHS. Members of the public told us they would post their requests for the Trust to think again, directly to the Trust. The leaflet is in the link below.
Dewsbury Keep Our NHS Public, has launched a campaign and petition arguing against a move proposed by Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, to set up a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) which would be a new subsidiary Company owned by the Trust Board, in other words a privatisation. Dewsbury KONP urge the MYHT Board to follow the lead of Bristol’s Southmead Hospital Trust which has scrapped their plans.
The campaign group say ” any new company will potentially
move staff including cleaners, porters and catering staff not already employed by the PFI company (Public/Private Finance Initiative) into the new company under TUPE regulations. This will split the NHS team, potentially leaving staff feeling isolated and abandoned.
offer less favourable terms and conditions to new staff, creating a 2 tier workforce
create an extra tier of governance and management
potentially and unacceptably move buildings and estates from public, into private ownership at the stroke of a pen.
impact on patient experience through lower terms and conditions creating a transient workforce in the future.
Christine Hyde said “The move is likely to have been encouraged by management consultants considering that both Airedale and Harrogate Trusts have already set up a subsidiary company each and Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust has agreed to set one up too. CHFT, Airedale and Harrogate Trusts belong to the same West Yorkshire Association of Acute Trusts (WYAAT) as Mid Yorkshire. New research indicates that advice from management consultants make the NHS LESS not more efficient. We are keen to alert the Trust to such research and help them resist the enormous pressure they must be under through underfunding and relentless redisorganisation by the Government and NHS regulatory bodies. We urge the Trust not to dismantle the NHS in its 70th year.”.
Liz Twist MP has set up EDM 802 asking the government to block further attempts to set up these SubCos due to the likelihood of them being “short term fixes that will create further problems in the future”. Thelma Walker MP has signed it. Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust have not as of 22 March 2018, yet lodged their arms length company with Companies House.
John Grogan MP said of the development at Airedale which went live earlier in the year
“I’ve met Health Minister Philip Dunne to express concerns that if trusts throughout the country continue setting up subsidiary companies there’ll be a big loss of VAT revenue to the Exchequer, which could be used to fund NHS staff pay rises”.
Issues of tax avoidance in relation to these new private companies, have been raised in the Parliament and Stephen Barclay Minister of State (Health and Social Care said .. “the Department has been clear that the setting up of a subsidiary is not a vehicle to avoid VAT.”
David Honeybell said “It’s our NHS, funded by our taxes and NI contributions, and that’s how it must stay. We must not allow any part of our NHS to be sold off or transferred to any other body, who ever (sic) sets them up.
Jenifer Devlin said “The assets that will be transferred belong to us and the NHS. They must not be privatised”.
Paula Sherriff MP has been invited to comment but has yet to send a reply.
A copy of the letter to the Board can be found in the link.
There has been a sudden rash of Hospital Trusts in the West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, privatising their estates, porters, cleaners and other staff into a private company wholly owned by the Hospital Trust Board, colloqually known as a SubCo.
Airedale and Harrogate Hospitals companies went live very recently and the current staff were TUPE’d over to leave their employment in the NHS and become non NHS employees.
Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust is referring to the new company as an SPV or Special Purpose Vehicle. We know that there is a similar structure in place to service the ongoing PFI arrangements, which rather begs the question is Mid Yorkshire Hospital Trust going to be taken over in the future by its SPV through some Venture Capital deal?
Paula Sherriff MP has been asked for comment but has not replied yet.
Roy Lilley, respected NHS commentator is worth reading on the subject, here:-
At the Governing Body meeting in common on 14th Feb 2018 of the North Kirklees and Greater Huddersfield CCGs in Dewsbury Town Hall, it was announced that due to opposition to the introduction of the rigid rule called Health Optimisation, preventing people who smoked or had a BMI of 30 or over, receiving elective operations until they stopped smoking for 6 months or had lost a percentage of their body weight, was to be scrapped.
Paula Sherriff MP in a Westminster debate which was mentioned, had noted the enormity of the postcode lottery the measure had created particularly on the border with Wakefield whose CCG did not introduce the policy. https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2017-12-12/debates/E0D6DD11-4E2E-47D0-86AB-A1E4F28698D1/HealthcareOptimisationPlanKirklees
Thelma Walker MP for Colne Valley had drawn attention to the fact that BMI was not a measure of fitness, since people who do sports often have strong muscles and a BMI which is higher than average.
The Health Optimisation Rule was also opposed by Clinicians in the hospitals.
At the meeting, deprivation between North Kirklees which has more than Greater Huddersfield, was clearly stated in a report by the Local Authority which summarised the most recent Joint Strategic Assesment. Nevertheless a GP from Huddersfield, said he wanted ‘disappointment’ mentioned in the minutes, because the policy was to address health inequality. In the opinion of this blog, it was not. If an person with a BMI over 30, or smoker had the requisite £10,000 or whatever it cost, there would be a surgeon to perform their operation and the NHS would pick up any problems afterwards. It seems to highlighted wealth inequalities. Watch out for more NHS doublespeak in the future. On the level of health, GPs can still talk to their patients about the advisability of losing weight and stopping smoking.
A question in the meeting elicited the verbal response that there had been no recorded saving from the initiative while it had been running, but later in the meeting a nurse on the Governing Body from the Greater Huddersfield CCG said she had heard the savings were predicted to be considerable. She wanted to know where the money to invest in the services needed to comply with the West Yorkshire and Harrogate wide ‘Healthy Choices’ instead, was going to come from. It is a good question. Public Health cuts are everywhere.
These are designed to incentivise providers to offer less care. The principle of comprehensive treatment according to need will disappear under these new systems. If you want your children and grandchildren to have the same access to health treatment as you have had in the past, please join us now. Let us know how to contact you via the comments box below.
Has a hospital or ward closed near you? Has your Local Authority’s Scrutiny Committee recently referred the proposals to the Independent Review Panel? (formerly called the Independent Reconfiguration Panel?) If so please will you let us know! E-mail STP_Agony Aunt <email@example.com>
Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS is starting a campaign to get the Independent Review Panel to broaden its terms of reference to include investigating the damaging effects of the government’s “austerity” policy on the NHS and social care; and the effect of Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships on NHS “reconfiguration” proposals. For more info, see Calderdale and Kirklees 999 Call for the NHS – Hospital cuts consultation.
They would be very glad of the involvement of other campaign groups from across England, whose NHS and social care cuts and changes have been recently or currently referred to the Independent Review Panel.
Dewsbury is a case in point.
Dewsbury Hospital’s A&E was rated 6th best in the country in 2012. Now it’s been downgraded and cannot take blue light ambulances. In the first year since the it opened and the A&E downgrade, 79 women in labour at Dewsbury’s midwife-led birth centre had to be blue-lighted 20 minutes to Pinderfields Hospital because something went wrong. The Birth Trauma Association (BTA), which helps women who have been through traumatic deliveries, just last week in reference to Dewsbury, said transfers were risky for mothers and babies! – which is exactly why the Joint Kirklees and Wakefield Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee referred the proposals to the IRP in 2013. Unfortunately the IRP said the changes were ok. They’re not.
A Birth Centre is wonderful…if there’s an A&E next door! Huddersfield birth centre is the next to have its hospital’s A&E cut. Kirklees and Calderdale Joint Health Scrutiny Committee has referred THAT proposal to the Secretary of State.
If you can remember reports in the local news about your hospital cuts, closures and a referral to the Sec of State, please let us firstname.lastname@example.org