The pressure is starting to work! – ESON Newsletter 31/07/20

There is a bit of good news this week with some services finally returning to Ealing Hospital, thanks to pressure from campaigners, doctors and our local MPs.
According to papers going to our local Hospitals Trust Board (London North West) the private sector has done very well out of the pandemic providing surgery and diagnostic services to 100’s of patients. Added to this we already knew that whilst hospital beds remain around the country, private sector beds are still be used!
Care home deaths have once again hit the news with MPs condemning the discharging of thousands of patients in to care homes as nothing short of reckless. It’s definitely very overdue for an independent inquiry!
Please read on for more on these stories…..
Update on Ealing Hospital & restoring NHS services
There has been a very slow resumption of NHS services that ‘temporarily ceased’ as a result of the pressures from the Covid pandemic. Whilst we understand that keeping people free from infection is of course very important, it is becoming increasingly clear that this is also being used around the country to implement unpopular cuts and changes to services.
Whilst there is still no published ‘Recovery Plan’ for Ealing Hospital we do know that daytime emergency surgery has now been reinstated (not 24/7 as previously) and that there is a commitment to significantly increase the number of critical care beds, which will help to support our A&E. A number of diagnostic services have also been reintroduced such as breast imaging and endoscopies too.
Clearly this doesn’t go far enough with vital services such as Trauma & Orthopaedics emergency surgery ‘under review’, but it’s a move in the right direction.
Unfortunately more and more services are being centralised and so is decision making. These days we are told that hospital service changes get reviewed behind closed doors by North West London NHS, whose chair is based at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital!
Ealing Hospital needs a proper plan for its future that addresses the health needs of all our communities and so we have to keep up the pressure and demand proper public consultation.
The Private Sector is doing very well – thank you NHS!
No doubt the high volume of work going to the private sector from London North West NHS Trust has been repeated around the country throughout the last 3 months.
According to the Trust’s June 2020 ‘Integrated Quality & Performance Report’, 452 patients were transferred to the private sector for surgery and over 500 patients for endoscopy and radiology. However as the Trust slowly recovers surgical capacity they will still be relying on the private sector for 15% of the work. We are asking questions about the cost and extent of using the private sector with public money, which is actively encouraged by the Government via NHS England.
You can read ESON’s questions to the recent Trust Board Meeting here
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‘A Rescue Plan for the NHS’
The Covid 19 pandemic has been the biggest crisis to hit the NHS since its formation 72 years ago. If our NHS is to be geared up to cope with the continued additional need to treat Covid-19 patients as well as resuming ‘normal’ elective, emergency and mental health services, a bold plan is needed.
Health Campaigns Together and Keep Our NHS Public have put forward a ‘Rescue Plan‘ as a basis for discussion on how best to protect and develop the National Health Service in England in the new period opened up by the Covid-19 pandemic. Its aim is to ensure our NHS, which so many have
recently applauded so warmly, is properly equipped, resourced and organised to meet our health needs.
The Plan’s bold list of proposals is below:-
  • Rebuild and properly fund the NHS for the post-Covid world
  • Reintegrate our NHS – revoke the 2012 Health and Social Care Act
  • Proper pay and respect for all NHS staff – end outsourcing Health care for all – scrap all charges and obstacles to care n Keep the NHS out of all trade deals
  • No digital exclusion – no sale of data
  • Rebuild and strengthen public health provision and networks
  • Go further: a radical reform of social care
  • Investment – for the next 70 years
There is no doubt campaigners need our own rescue plan in the face of ongoing cuts and privatisation all conveniently justified under the guise of responding to Covid -19.

You can read the excellent draft Rescue Plan here – very well worth a read

Support NHS Staff pay protests – Saturday 8th August
NHS workers across the country are organising a wave of protests on Saturday 8th August demanding a 15% pay increase paid from 1 December 2020, in order to start recovering a decade of lost wages.
The organisers say – “We are calling on NHS staff and supporters to join us to send a clear message to the government. We do not accept your plans to exclude us from the public sector pay increase, and we will make ourselves heard until you listen.”
The London event will be 11.00am in Trafalgar Square, with loads more around the country and an online rally for those who can’t join outdoor protests. More details here:
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Keep our NHS out of trade deals – please sign the petition:
The promises by the Government to ‘keep the NHS off the table’ in any Trade Bill have been shown to be very shallow indeed as over 300 Tory MPs voted against any parliamentary scrutiny or NHS protection in the Trade Bill debate last week.
The Trade Bill as currently worded would pose a range of dangers for the health service, opening up the NHS to being charged more for drugs; enshrine the rights of American healthcare companies to access our NHS in international treaties and “lock in” privatisation that would be incredibly difficult for a future government to reverse.
The Bill has now gone to the Lords so there is still a chance to get it amended.

The petition has already been signed by over 250,000 showing the huge support for our NHS.

Please sign the petition here – and please share it too.
MPs Inquiry into Government handling of Coronovirus – call for evidence
From almost any point of view the British government, and specifically ministers in England, have handled the pandemic worse than any comparable European country. The UK has the second highest deaths per capita in the world, based on official figures, with at least half of those dying of Covid-19 in care homes, to where thousands of patients were abruptly discharged from hospitals without testing to free up beds, but where supplies of PPE and medical support have been grossly inadequate.
There is much to investigate and learn from but although the Government under pressure has now said there will be an independent inquiry, there is no fixed date.
In the meantime the ‘All Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus (AAP)’ is gathering evidence with the aim of ensuring that lessons are learned from the UK’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak so that the UK’s response and preparedness may be improved in future.
They are keen to hear from a wide range of people including frontline NHS Staff & other key workers, those experiencing physical/mental health problems due to the lockdown and many more.

Please see if you are someone who can contribute here

‘Sending untested patients to care homes was reckless’ say MPs:
The decision to allow hospital patients in England to be discharged to care homes without Covid-19 tests at the start of the pandemic has been described as “reckless” by MPs on the Public Accounts Committee.
The Committee said there had clearly been an “emerging problem” with official advice before it was “belatedly” changed in April. It accused ministers of being slow to support social care during the crisis. Around 25,000 patients were discharged into care homes in England between mid-March and mid-April to free up hospital beds.
After initially saying a negative result was not required before discharging patients, the government later said on 15 April all patients would be tested.
Ealing Save Our NHS has been working with Ealing Reclaim Social Action Group and Seniors Action Group Ealing to raise concerns with Ealing Council about the high number of care home deaths in Ealing care homes. Of the 403 Covid deaths in Ealing up to now, nearly 40% were in care homes.
Local Democracy reporter Anahita Hossein–Pour has been investigating Ealing care home deaths and in response to her questions to London North West NHS Trust about discharges in to care homes has discovered that of 119 patients discharged back to care homes (in North West London) from 1 March to 15th April, only 32 were actually tested. Pretty shocking figures, but presumably they were only ‘following Government policy’.
There will be a story on the My London website in the next day or so.
Meanwhile a story on the MPs findings can be read here