Angry Health Visitors, School Nurses, local hospital and other workers across Somerset Community Health Services met in Bridgwater on Wednesday 1st September, to launch a vital and urgent campaign to persuade the members of the county’s NHS Primary Care Trust to vote to stay within the NHS.
Community Health Services staff, many with twenty or thirty years’ proud and loyal service to the public service ideal, are also appealing for public support.
One Health Visitor at the meeting said: “We are being strong-armed and railroaded. No-one I know wants to be transferred to a private ‘Social Enterprise’ employer. We love the NHS and we want to remain a part of it. We are being told that this must be sorted by the end of September and there is nothing we can do about it. Well, we’ll see about that!”
A School Nurse said: “They are saying that Social Enterprises are good because they are a “not for profit community organisation”. Social Enterprises’ like any other business, could go bust, and would then be taken over by a private health care company.”
A token ‘consultation’ with both staff and members of the public has been rushed through during the peak holiday period, and the PCT are insisting that the final decision must be made at their meeting of 15th September. Staff are asking for more time for a proper consultation, involving staff AND public, which will end with the final decision being made by a democratic staff ballot.
The key Somerset PCT meeting is being held at Yeovil, headquarters of the Somerset Primary Care Trust, on 15th September. The campaign is asking for maximum staff and public support at the meeting, which is held at Wynford House, Lufton Way, Yeovil BS22 8HR, starting at 10.00am. Members of the public are invited to put questions to the PCT at the start of the meeting.
A staff petition is being circulated, which states: “We, the undersigned, are extremely proud to work for the NHS in Somerset. We cherish our reputation as having one of the top Primary Care Trusts in the country, and of delivering high quality services to our local population. We want to continue to work with you to transform our local health service from ‘good’ to ‘great.’ We are proud to work for the best ‘not for profit’ organisation, based in the heart of our local community. That organisation is called the NHS and we want to stay in it! Please hear our voices!”
The press release above was put out by Bridgwater Trades Union Council immediatly after the meeting
SEDGEMOOR LABOUR GROUP BACKS TUC CAMPAIGN
Members of Sedgemoor District Labour Group have joined the Bridgwater Trades Council in expressing strong opposition to the government's privatisation agenda for the NHS, which could see vital services provided by Health Visitors, School Nurses and other hospital workers being transferred to a Social Enterprise employer.
Kathy Pearce, Leader of the Sedgemoor District Labour Group, stated that she shared health workers' fears that if the Social Enterprise does not make a profit, then it would be sold off to the private health care providers who have a history of pricing systems which disadvantage the elderly and vulnerable. Health workers are also at risk of losing their rights after 3 years if this proposal goes ahead.
"We are extremely worried at the speed of the proposed change and the poor quality of consultation over the holiday period, which is allowing this to go through largely unnoticed by members of the public. The NHS is the cornerstone of our society, providing equality of access to all, regardless of income. We cannot afford to let this slip through our hands."
"I urge anyone concerned about these proposals to write or make contact with the Primary Care Trust Headquarters at Wynford House, Lufton Way, Yeovil BS22 8HR, or to attend the meeting there on 15th September at 10am."