More than 50 members of the public, Workers, Trades unionists and IW councillors attended a lively public meeting last night, called by concerned residents in the light of the IW NHS Trust announcement of the Joint Venture Partnership with private company Ryhurst.
Ryde and East Wight Trades Council participated in the meeting, congratulating the organisers for the initiative outside of politicians’ and parties’ control. They raised with Allyson Pollock the secrecy and stealth, the manner in which outsourcing and the privatisation programme was taking place. Already the meeting was providing information about the buildings and other things happening inside St Mary’s. It was also pointed out that trades unions like UNISON Health were intimidated in coming forward and also whistle blowers were in the same boat.
The Trades Council also said that it would fully participate in and support the organisation set up by the meeting and would join a “Keep Our NHS Public IW branch”.
The chairs laid out were filled, as those who attended watched the Peter Bach documentary Sell Off which emphasised that corporate interests rather than patient care is driving reform in today’s NHS.
What this means for the Island
Green Party Parliamentary Candidate, Vix Lowthion, delivered a short presentation on how the national picture relates to developments on the Isle of Wight.
Based on IW NHS Trust Chief Executive Karen Baker’s recent letter to Trust members, she highlighted how the 50:50 partnership on estates would be addressing the future of all the older, red brick buildings at the south end of the hospital – including the old Newport Workhouse.
The aim of the partnership appears to be seeking expert advice to move the NHS Trust closer to a ‘care closer to home’ delivery of services – including using private businesses, telemonitoring and home based staff.
Vix challenged the Trust’s insistence that ‘this is not privatisation’ as semantics; that private companies taking tax payer’s money to deliver services at a profit for themselves is inefficient at best.
Her presentation was followed by Labour Parliamentary Candidate Stewart Blackmore, who stressed the wider political issues surrounding the NHS, and that the Labour Party would pledge to address these directly. Stewart apologised for the misdemeanours of the previous Labour administrations and said he was never a Tony Blair supporter.
Professor Allyson Pollock, Professor of Public Health Research and Policy at Queen Mary’s, University of London, joined the meeting via Skype and answered many questions put forward by the concerned attendees – including what NHS staff could do to overcome the culture of intimidation in speaking out over these changes.
The meeting concluded with a lively discussion concerning how Isle of Wight residents could take their campaign forward. A Keep Our NHS Public IW branch will be established in the next week, and the Health and Scrutiny Committee would be meeting with NHS Chief Executive Karen Baker next month.
Labour councillor Geoff Lumley insisted that the assembled residents must organise en mass and not rely on the council to put pressure on the NHS Trust, but to demonstrate the strong feelings of ordinary residents against privatisation of our NHS.
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