See you at the bridge tomorrow?

showing Finsbury Health Centre in the foreground, boy with rickets in a derelict backyard with 'disease' and 'neglect' written on the walls

Your Britain - Fight for it Now!

In a last-ditch effort to express public disapproval of Lansley’s Health and Social Care Reform Bill, which starts its process through the House of Lords next Tuesday Oct 11, many along with UKUncut and Keep Our NHS Public are preparing to block Westminster Bridge tomorrow (Sun 9 Oct) from 1-6pm. More info on this link. We’ll be there with our banner made from Abram Games’ famous WWII poster ‘Your Britain – Fight For It Now’. For people who can’t make it there, both the TUC and 38Degrees have put up sites to make it easy to write to a Lord of your choice to urge them to block this bill. Here’s a handy online list of contact emails and telephone numbers of Liberal and crossbench Lords.

As many, including SaveFHC have pointed out, much of the groundwork for this bill was laid by the last Labour government with its promotion of an internal market within the NHS, the opening up of NHS services to private contractors via the ‘World Class Commissioning’ programme and PFI contracts. As it stands, however, the current bill will bring in a wholesale auctioning off of services to ‘any qualified (org. willing) provider’, a proliferation of quangos to oversee commissioning – doubling them at the last count, and the abolition of the Secretary of State of Health’s responsibility for the NHS. In short, chaos, cuts to services, conflicts of interest for GPs and even less democratic accountability than before.

In terms of immediate effects for our campaign, it seems that NHS property will be transferred to which ever body provides over 50% of the service provision. We thought at first this meant FHC would go to Whittington Health, which is forming a Foundation Trust which includes both the hospital and primary care services in Islington. At the Whittington Health AGM, however, it seems that they are resisting taking over responsibility for the building in 2013, which makes the formation of a community trust to take over refurbishment and management of the building all the more urgent. This is underway, and progressing towards charitable status.

Hopefully one day we’ll be able to look back on this period as a whole as one of collective madness. In the meantime, see you at the bridge?

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