Anger erupted as campaigners accused Brighton and Hove health chiefs of enabling the privatisation of the NHS at a meeting this morning (Tuesday 5 November).
The outbursts resulted in two people being removed from the chamber at Hove Town Hall during a special meeting of the Brighton and Hove City Council Health and Wellbeing Board.
Protesters shouted out their criticisms of the Brighton and Hove Clinical Commissioning Group saying that the CCG had not consulted people properly about its response to the government’s NHS Long-Term Plan.
The CCG said that it had consulted several organisations and had had more than 4,000 conversations with Brighton and Hove residents about its response, known as the Sussex Health and Care Partnership Strategic Delivery Plan.
An NHS worker and the father of a GP criticised lack of funding, staff shortages and privatisation by stealth before being asked to leave the meeting after several interruptions.
And members of Sussex Defend the NHS protested outside Hove Town Hall before the meeting.
One of them, Madeleine Dickens, led a formal delegation to the Health and Wellbeing Board which is made up of five councillors and five CCG representatives. It also includes six “non-voting” members, including a representative of the statutory watchdog Healthwatch Brighton and Hove.
The campaigners said that they were concerned about “integrated care” and said that the NHS was adopting an American approach, adding: “Integrated care is the natural successor to nine years of underfunding.”
They highlighted a paragraph of particular concern in a report to the board which said: “A significant proportion of contracts are already ‘aligned incentive’ contracts for 2019-20 and we are exploring risk-sharing models to stimulate delivery of our new models of care.
“The partnership is committed to identifying innovative and benefit-sharing options to engage both providers and commissioners.”
Ms Dickens said: “In recent years all government NHS policies have had one unspoken primary objective – to bear down on funding.
“All initiatives must save money. With integrated care, healthcare will be restricted by a fixed population budget.
“‘Clinically effective commissioning’ has already removed access to 110 NHS treatments.
“Integrated care systems or partnerships will not only restrict NHS budgets. Institutional altruism will be replaced by institutional denial of care.”
She quoted historian Professor Peter Hennessy as saying that the NHS “is the nearest Britain has ever come to institutionalising altruism”.
Ms Dickens added: “That’s why the NHS is loved. It’s why nurses, doctors, porters and cleaners work in it.
“Why thousands of campaigners around England spend our time fighting to preserve it.”
The campaigners’ demands were
- stop any integrated care partnership planning until the council has organised a public consultation through its website
- for an urgent economic and equality impact assessment
- refer the creation of an ICP to the council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee
- refer the response to the plan to the full council
Karen Breen, deputy chief executive and chief operating officer of the Sussex and East Surrey CCGs, said that the response was required and had to follow a timetable.
She said: “We are very aware of concerns voiced locally about the risks to the NHS of privatisation.
“There is nothing set down in the Long-Term Plan that suggests working in this way will increase privatisation in the NHS.
“What we do know from what our population has said locally, as well as nationally, is that more needs to be done to increase collaboration across organisations so care is much more seamless and joined up.”
She said that no new care system was being set up and that the integrated care system for Sussex would not be a decision-making body. Decision-making would remain with the various CCGs and the NHS trusts serving Brighton and Hove.
Only three of the five councillors on the Health and Wellbeing Board were present for the meeting, Clare Moonan, the Labour councillor who chairs the board, and Green councillors Sue Shanks and Sarah Nield.
They agreed that the deputation and the strategic delivery plan should go before the next meeting of the full council on Thursday 19 December.
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