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Maghull Meeting Debates NHS Sell-Off

Greg | 14.09.2006 21:04 | Health | Social Struggles | Workers' Movements | Liverpool

Some 200 local people packed the public meeting in Lydiate, near Maghull
last night called by KONP Merseyside in response to the threatened privatisation of GP services in Sefton East Parishes.

In the course of the day the local Maghull Champion led with a statement by George Howarth MP backing the privatised GP scheme. But the paper also advertised the public meeting.

The South Sefton PCT held its board meeting. The APMS (Alternative providers of medical services) scheme was not on the agenda. A local activist asked that it be discussed. He was told it would not be on the agenda at this or the next meeting, although it might make the one after (4 months from now).

A key figure in South Sefton PCT was asked to attend the public meeting. He declined, saying he was satisfied proper consultation had already taken place.

The public meeting was addressed by Debbie Abrahams – who explained why she had resigned as chair of Rochdale PCT and the current situation with Netcare providing Clinical Assessment as well as running an ITC to which the Assessment can refer; Dr Elizabeth Barrett who gave a detailed account of the decision to fight United Health at Langwith and how the campaign took off leading to a Section 11 challenge which won at Appeal; Marie Lloyd (Chair UNISON Regional Health Committee) who urged people to stand up and fight for their rights, outlined the cuts at Southport and Ormskirk hospital, and backed the NHS Logistics strike; and Alex Scott Samuel who gave a rousing speech for KONP and quoted from the local GP’s letter (below)

GP’s at a local surgery wrote to the chair of the soon to be merged Sefton PCT and made their letter public at the meeting. Full text is below.

The chair of the LMC (GP’s local management committee) Joe Chattin
turned up at the public meeting and explained how the PCT had rigged the process to prevent normal NHS routes for recruiting new GP’s from being pursued.

The response from the audience was fast and furious – more details when I get time. The local people were mainly senior citizens but also included nurses and GP’s. The anger began from the fact that our leaflet was the first they’d heard of the entire issue, but went on to the wider issues.

The NHS Logistics strike was backed from the platform by Marie Lloyd, by a KONP local healthworker in the audience, and then Jean Allen spoke from the floor on the impending strike. She was given very strong support from the audience.

Gtr Manchester KONP banner flew behind the platform, along with Amicus
health banner. Healthworker was distributed at end of meeting. Several petitions circulated, including one calling on South Sefton PCT to organise a real public consultation with space for the opposition to put its case.

A local journalist stayed to the end of the meeting and asked to be told details of the next one, to publicise.

It seems there's never been a meeting like this in Maghull. For the rest of us, it was staggering.


‘High Pastures’ Surgery
138 Liverpool Road North
L31 2HW

Tel 0151 526 2161
Fax 0151 527 2377

13 September 2006

Mr Paul Acres
Chairman of the New PCT
South Sefton PCT
Burlington House
Crosby Road North
Liverpool 22

Dear Mr Acres

The Partners at High Pastures Surgery would like to raise some points of concern about the new APMS Practice proposed for the Maghull area. We would also like to have some clarification about the specific issue of funding for Essential

We are, above all, concerned about the potential destabilization effect of the APMS Practice upon our (and other) local practices. This concern is not just the obvious ‘selfish’ one of our long-term partnership viability but a genuine feeling that this could have a detrimental long-term affect on the effective provision of primary care in the area. We fear that short term financial ‘pump priming’ that inevitably comes with any new initiative will lead to inequalities locally that will allow the APMS service to grow. Once the local balance has shifted from NHS to Private dominated providers of healthcare then those original NHS services will be lost for good. We believe that at this stage the public will sadly find out the hard way that an important strategy of companies is to maximize profits for directors and shareholders (despite the inevitable flowery mission statements to the contrary). Currently NHS led GMS services such as our Practice have no such overheads and the public can be sure that every penny goes to run the services and pay those who are actually
directly involved in medical care.

From a non-financial angle, we are also concerned about the issue of
continuity of care. We fear that the service may be led by GPs on short-term salaried contracts. We also fear that staff retention generally may be an issue as the private company inevitably strives to keep salaries low. This fact, combined with the disincentive of workers for APMS having no NHS pension scheme could lead to high staff turnover in the long run. This is very likely to reduce the quality of primary care to the local population.

Our specific question relates to funding of Essential Services. In the
outline business case for APMS July 05 (4.2 Level) it clearly states that Essential Services will be funded from ‘normal GMS budget’. Following discussions with Naveen Menon he has suggested that funding is an entirely ‘negotiable’ process between the PCT and the APMS organisation. Clearly these two funding streams are mutually exclusive. Could you please clarify this point? If the rules have been unilaterally changed since July 05 and funding is ‘negotiable’ could
you please reassure us that no inequality in funding will exist between GMS practices and the APMS.

Many thanks for your considerations of these matters and your prompt
reply. We intend for the contents of this letter to also be discussed with the LMC and local groups who are concerned about privatization of the NHS

Yours sincerely,

The Partners
‘High Pastures’ Surgery

cc Naveen Menon, Development Manager, South Sefton PCT
Joe Chattin, Secretary LMC, 12 Belverdere Park, Aughton