What’s happening behind closed doors? – ESON Newsletter 30/05/20

We hope you are keeping well in these difficult and worrying times.
Despite millions of people showing their solid support for our NHS in so many ways and the absolutely amazing dedication of NHS staff across the Board, the Government agenda of cuts and privatisation is continuing.
Ministers have used special powers to bypass normal tendering. They are awarding big contracts to their favourite private companies and management consultants – without open competition or scrutiny.
Big changes are also afoot, especially in London where NHS bosses are busily drawing up plans for a post Covid-19 NHS, possibly making permanent bed closures and other service changes that were made so that staff could cope with the demands of the virus.
What future for Ealing Hospital?
It has been a rollercoaster over the past few months at Ealing Hospital as staff struggled to cope with the sometimes overwhelming numbers of patients, but without a doubt they did us proud!
Along the way there have been some pretty drastic service changes including the closure of all the operating theatres, suspension of emergency surgery and removal of critical care equipment.
We were told that this was necessary at the time, as Ealing Hospital couldn’t cope with the numbers, and Northwick Park needed extra staff and equipment as it is a major hub for the virus.
Now the peak has passed and plans are being drawn up for a post-Covid-19 NHS, is Ealing getting back the services it has lost? If not, how can a 24-hour A&E safely remain open without the back-up of emergency surgery?
We recently wrote to Chris Bown, Chief Executive of London North West Trust, which manages Ealing Hospital, to ask these questions and express our concerns for the future of Ealing A&E. We believe Ealing A&E is of vital importance for our communities, especially the Black, Asian & Minority Ethnic Communities who have been so badly affected by Covid-19. Read our letter here
Whilst we are pleased to have received an assurance from Mr Bown that the Trust remains “absolutely committed to continuing to provide an open access 24/7 Emergency Department at Ealing Hospital, as we do currently”.
Nevertheless, Hospital staff, campaigners and local politicians remain concerned about the future for the Hospital and A&E, which can’t function fully without onsite emergency surgery, blue light ambulances and a proper complement of ICU beds – none of which the Trust has yet committed to return. In reality yet another major reorganisation is being devised without involvement of either the actual Hospital staff or people from the locality. ESON will continue to argue the case for re-instating emergency surgery and other services and work together with our local MPs and others to keep up the pressure.
Behind closed doors – disturbing plans for a ‘ New Health & Social Care System‘ in London:
Alongside all the blatant privatisation is yet another Government-led re-organisation of the NHS, especially in London. Local CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups/ NHS bosses) such as Ealing, are to be pushed aside – merged and controlled at a North West London and London wide level. Many of the coronavirus ‘emergency’ closures of beds, theatres and other NHS services may be made permanent by the new London Leadership under Sir David Sloman.
Locally, it’s not just Ealing Hospital that has lost services. Both of Ealing’s acute Mental Health wards (Hope and Horizon) have been closed too and changes made to GP services, such as virtual appointments becoming the new norm.
We could be facing a ‘Shaping a Healthier Future’ Mark 2 on a much bigger scale!
The London NHS plans – ‘Journey to a new Health & Social Care System’ are being rushed through in secret, and only came to light after a key document was leaked to the Health Service Journal and to Hammersmith and Fulham Council. Our sister campaign HAFSON sent the report to magazine ‘the Lowdown’, a brilliant source of research on the NHS.
You can read more about the threat posed to our NHS by these plans here
Why has the supply of PPE been such a disaster?
More than 300 NHS and care workers have now died from coronavirus and many of these deaths were “avoidable with proper PPE”.
Businesses and communities have been ready to help out with vital protective equipment: masks, gowns, visors etc but many Trusts and GPs had to resort to sourcing their own PPE supplies.
The ‘NHS Supply Chain’ –supposedly responsible for procuring and delivering PPE during the coronavirus crisis, turned out to be a privatised and unsynchronised collection of companies. Although technically a part of the NHS, the ‘Supply Chain’ is a complex web of contracts with private companies which all answer to shareholders first and the NHS second.
Immediately upon its formation ‘NHS Supply Chain’ outsourced two major contracts for IT and logistics, and then broke up and outsourced the whole procurement system, by delegating eleven supply areas to various contractors – in the name of “efficiency savings”!
The 5 big players in this supply chain are –
DHL, the parcel delivery company, in charge of finding wholesalers to supply ward based consumables, including PPE kits.
Unipart, responsible for delivering PPE through its £730 million NHS logistics contract.
Deloitte with a series of major NHS contracts – for designing the procurement system in the first place and more recently for managing logistics for PPE and testing centres.
Movianto won a £55 million contract in 2018 to provide a stockpile of equipment, mostly PPE, in case of a pandemic. consumables, including PPE kits.
Logistics, who have been contracted to run a separate PPE channel for NHS Trusts,
You can read the full report here
Also worth reading is this excellent short article by George Monbiot in Guardian
PLEASE ALSO SIGN THE PETITION to end all outsourcing in our NHS and protect NHS Staff here
Could Test and Trace be the same shambles as PPE?
This week, the Government launched its trace and trace system ahead of the planned 1st June date, calling on all citizens to do their ‘civic duty’. The easing of the lockdown and the re-opening of schools is dependent on an effective test, track and trace programme.
Well, for a start the App is not even ready and prior to being tested in the Isle of Wight it failed all the key tests including cyber security, performance and clinical safety. Without the App the system relies on thousands of people physically picking up a phone and tracking down the contacts of those who have reported Covid-19 symptoms and/or have tested positive.
So who is doing the tracing?
Instead of skilled people from Public Health, private company Serco, known for poor quality and low pay, has been contracted to recruit the vast majority of 25,000 contact tracers. They have been given 1 day’s training, by the same people who run NHS 111, and have a script and a list of ‘frequently asked questions’. Specialist queries are expected to be referred to a separate team of 3000 medics or senior nurses. Not very re-assuring!
Kate Ardern, Director of Public Health (Wigan), said “You cannot expect people with no appropriate background knowledge, skills or experience to do this vital job with little training or expert supervision… contact tracing is a skilled job!”
You can read more on this story here in ‘The Lowdown’
‘Fatal Inequalities’ Online Public Meeting – Tuesday 2nd June:
This ‘NHS Staff Voices’ public meeting centres around the effects of inequality and race in the NHS, and in particular, during this pandemic.
Speakers include:
Gary Younge – journalist and campaigner
Dame Donna Kinnair – Royal College of Nursing
Dr Sonia Adesara – Keep Our NHS Public and NHS Staff Voices

Race and inequality have had a significant effect on covid-19 outcomes for workers, with Black and Asian people up to 4 times more likely to die from covid-19 than white people, yet despite this many BAME workers feel unable to demand safer working conditions for fear of disciplinary action or losing their job.

To hear more and join the discussion, please register here:
You are welcome to send any questions you may have for the panel in advance to [email protected]
Independent group of Scientists & health experts speak out:
‘Sage’, the ‘ Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies’, which advises the Government, has been much criticised by some of our leading scientists and health policy experts. David King, a former UK Government Chief Scientist has set up an Independent ‘Sage’ group which has just published its first report.
If you are interested in reading what they think the Government should be doing on Covid-19 – here is a link to their first Report – absolutely fascinating!
NHS Staff Voices interview Professor John Ashton:
Keep Our NHS Public now has a NHS Staff Voice’s group. Their Chair, Alia Butt (psychologist and psychotherapist) recently interviewed public health expert Professor John Ashton CBE, a British doctor and academic, and former Regional Director of Public Health for North-West England, on the government’s mishandling of the Covid-19 crisis.
You can watch it here
Mental health still the poor relation?
So is the Government now providing adequate funding to support our mental health services, already creaking under the strain of cuts to NHS and local authority budgets and now struggling to cope with the added burden of rising demand driven by the pandemic –Answer – No. Instead of the Government providing 24/7 support for frontline workers it is the charities who have come together under the ‘Our Frontline’ banner to provide these services.
You can read more on this story here
Covid and care homes – why we need to nationalise our care homes:
An excellent article by Roy Lilley, former NHS Trust Chair, writer and broadcaster on health policy. Written for the Telegraph but then spiked and never used….
Thanks for your continued support