UK Newswire Archive
A Letter to/for Japanese Comrades
By Silvia Federici and George Caffentzis
In their letter of solidarity Silvia and George touch on the global significance and context of recent events in Japan, with particular reference to the role of nuclear power in militarised capitalism. In Japanese and English.
The National Front held its annual St George's Day rally in Newcastle on the 23rd of April. The English Defence League showed up to join their friends, but anti-cuts and anti-fascists did not let them take control of the City Centre.
24-04-2011 20:57Organisers of March for England (MFE) in Brighton revealed their true colours today. Despite claims made by Matt Silva (MFE spokesman) in a press release last week, that members of the English Defence League (EDL) and English Nationalist Alliance (ENA) would not be made welcome at their event, the number of recognised EDL and ENA members made up the majority of the attendees. Exposing the MFE organisers as outright liars and proving that what they say cannot be trusted.
On Thursday 21st April, Notts SOS, Health in Your Environment, Keep Our NHS Public and 38 Degrees held a meeting at the Mechanics' Institute to oppose the Social Care and Health Bill.
The meeting was well attended, with around 100 people in the audience. This may not sound amazing, but it did fill the downstairs room at the Mechanics'. It is also substantially bigger than a previous meeting about the NHS, covering much of the same territory, held in the same room in February 2007.
The meeting consisted of 3 speakers followed by contributions from the floor. The first up was Professor Colin Leys, co-author of the book "The Plot Against the NHS". Leys discussed the ramifications of the Bill, arguing that if passed into law it would lead to a collapse in quality, a narrowing of the services provided, the payment of fees for some services and, increasingly, the provision of services by the private sector.
While strongly critical of the current proposals, Leys was keen to draw the links with the gradual and often secret marketisation process of the Labour Government. He described Labour as "very deeply complicit in preparation of the ground."
He noted the widespread opposition to the Bill which has come from some unlikely quarters. All the unions (Unison, Unite and GMB) have all come out against it, with the RCN endorsing a vote of no confidence in Health Secretary Andrew Lansley by 99%. The usually staid BMA have been vocally critical and even the LibDems don't like it. A recent motion to their party conference in Sheffield ostensibly supported the Bill, but suggested amendments entirely contrary to its actual purpose.
The next speaker was St Anns GP Chris Udenze. He Talked about the need to speak not only with people who already agree with us, but also with Tories. He discussed the possibility of defeating the bill, noting the relative lack of action so far against the Bill. This was dismissed out of hand by Martin Benn from Unison, but it struck me as an important point and unusually honest for a public meeting (these are normally unashamedly positive affairs, regardless of the political realities they confront). Udenze, also talked about various GPs actively involved in the "clusters" which are preparing for the restructuring of the NHS, implying that their financial positions did not necessarily make them obvious allies.
The third speaker was Martin Benn of the Nottingham University Hospital branch of Unison. He gave first hand accounts of the disasters which had resulted from the introduction of private companies into the NHS already. The treatment centre at QMC is a privately run centre and on more than one occasion, Unison have been denied access to their members in the facility. Benn was also keen to point to the impact the spending squeeze in the NHS was already having, despite being only a fraction of what has been seen in local government. (The NHS has actually had a slight increase in funding, but it is substantially less than cost inflation.)
At this point the meeting was opened up to the floor, which began a wide ranging discussion. Two main themes emerged out of this. Firstly, the extent to which (if at all), the Labour Party can be relied upon to support the campaign against the Bill and NHS privatisation more widely. Secondly, the role of trade unions. Points were also raised about the closure of the Hayward House daycare service.
While there is a clear and urgent need to discuss a strategy for beating the Bill and the Tories' agenda more widely, this seemed at times to be wholly disconnected from reality. One prospective Labour councillor even claimed that he would put pressure on the party, if elected, to re-nationalise any parts of the NHS which had been privatised, without compensation. Even assuming this was possible and there was anything left to nationalise, it is hardly likely to happen.
The last Labour Government was in power for longer than any other; had one of the largest Labour majorities ever; faced a particularly divided and weak Tory opposition until the last few years; and ruled during an unusually extended economic boom. In short: that's as good as it is ever going to get for the Labour Party. Anything they weren't able to achieve in those 13 years, probably isn't possible through electoral action. It goes without saying that not only did they not renationalise anything the Tories had privatised, but they actually expanded the policy, trying to flog off the Royal Mail and pumping billions into "private finance initiatives" and "public private partnerships."
It shouldn't therefore be a great surprise to learn from one contributor from the floor that during discussions with Shadow Cabinet members during a recent visit to the city, none had believed the Bill could be beaten nor that it could or would be reversed by any future Labour Government.
It isn't even clear that they necessarily think such a reversal would be desirable. Another contributor described a speech by the Shadow Health Secretary John Healey to a Unison conference. When asked whether he opposed the privatisation of the Blood Service, Healey had given a convoluted answer which seemed to avoid him making a commitment either way.
While in opposition, the Labour Party will often vote against government policy because that's what the opposition do. This shouldn't be confused with principle. They might vote against the Social Care and Health Bill now and mimic many of its worst aspects as soon as (or should that be if?) they get re-elected.
The job for those opposed to the privatisation of the NHS and the other aspects of the austerity drive is simply to make them impossible to impose. As one of the last contributors noted, the Poll Tax was not beaten by electing the Labour Party. Rather, a mass non-payment campaign, coupled with widespread direct action, culminating in the famous Poll Tax Riot in London, forced the government to back down and ultimately toppled Margaret Thatcher.
That strategy cannot be copied directly, but UK Uncut actions across the country and the property damage which has accompanied most of the big anti-fees and anti-cuts marches in London demonstrate that autonomous activity can shake the establishment. This should be continued and widened. The companies which will benefit from the sell-off of the NHS have offices with publicly available addresses. They deserve to be treated no better than Vodafone, Boots, HSBC or any of the other companies doing so well out of the Age of Austerity.
In recent weeks news has emerged of plans to cut the daycare service at Hayward House, located in the grounds of City Hospital, Nottingham. A campaign to defend this service sprung up almost immediately. I interviewed Chris from the campaign to find out what was going on.
1) Can you briefly describe the services offered by Hayward House?
Briefly, no! This is as brief as I can be!
There are three parts: education on palliative care; inpatient facilities; daycare.
Daycare allows patients with terminal illness to remain living at home for as long as possible, and provides them with a complete package of integrated care. Patients are treated with dignity, respect and compassion.
Social care: patients, who are often lonely, get out to chat and meet others "in the same boat". There are sometimes extra social activities, such as birthday parties and the annual boat trip. Patients eat together, and the tables are always beautifully laid
Occupational care: patients are helped to do craftwork or undertake other pastimes, should they so wish.
Emotional care: proper help is available should patients or family need to talk over their problems. Being with others in the same situation is very helpful to many.
Personal care: patients have access to e.g. help with bathing, relaxation techniques, massage, chiropody. Aids to help in daily life are provided.
Community care: Hayward House has good links with relevant bodies in the community, and helps with making appointments and integrating patients' daily lives with their medical treatments, etc. Carers at home get some respite from their 24/7 caring duties.
Medical/palliative care: all the other aspects of care are hugely important, but this is the aspect that makes daycare at Hayward House outstanding. There is a highly skilled, trained, experienced and dedicated team of doctors and nurses to help with pain control and other aspects of end-of-life care. Their work has made many lives worth living again when no other medical facilities have been able to help.
Nowhere else locally can provide all these aspects together.
2) What is your personal experience of Hayward House?
My mum was a daycare patient in 1997, suffering from lung cancer. When daycare could no longer control her pain, she moved into the inpatient wards. This was a familiar environment, without that 'hospital atmosphere'. The idea was that her pain would be controlled and she would return home and to daycare, but sadly this was never fully achieved, and she remained an inpatient for about six weeks until she died on April 15th 1997. I was allowed to stay with her day and night during her last few days. All the time she was full of praise for Hayward House, staff and volunteers.
She had moved to Nottingham to be near me, so daycare gave her the opportunity to make friends locally. The treatment she received at Hayward House was exemplary, and because of this I decided to volunteer when enough time had passed for me to feel able to do so.
I have been a volunteer driver for nearly ten years, taking patients to and from daycare. Hayward House prefers to use volunteer drivers when possible, as it is more personal and we get to know each other. Sometimes patients tell us things that they haven't told anyone else. We often become friends as well as drivers, and it is a great privilege.
A few years ago, I also set up a cataloguing system for the medical library, and did some cataloguing for a while. I have also fundraised - by cycling from John O'Groats to Land's End in 2001, and by selling books (ExLibris).
3) What exactly is being cut?
The wonderful, unique daycare service is being cut. Apparently it will be replaced by "a different kind of service" - but no-one seems to know what that will be; and no-one has any confidence that it will be a quarter as good as current daycare.
4) When is this likely to come into effect?
Referrals stopped on April 1st, and complete closure is scheduled for September 1st.
5) How have other volunteers responded?
I haven't been in touch with all of them, but several are fuming - just like me - and want to campaign. Organising is made more difficult because we all volunteer different days of the week.
6) What has been the response of residents?
Daycare patients aren't residents, and so far the inpatient wards aren't affected. Daycare patients are devastated. That's one reasons we volunteers are so angry - how can such ill people, whith wom we have become friends, be treated like this! Some patients are so distressed they keep crying, and are physically affected - not being able to sleep, not being able to keep food down, losing weight, getting more short of breath than before. Some patients are keeping going with determination, setting up their own petitions, and doing a variety of imaginative campaigning things. All patients are utterly opposed to this closure, and unfortunately this has affected the mood in the daycare room.
7) What has been the response of staff?
Staff are upset too. They are an excellent team; once the team is ripped apart, it will not be possible to recreate that level of expertise and experience again. I think staff are all the more upset because they are not able to campaign; I believe that many would like to. They don't like
to see their patients being hurt by this.
8) Are any of the trade unions interested?
I don't know yet. We as a campaign group haven't had time to go there yet. I don't know whether nurses or other staff have done anything. No unions have approached us about this.
9) You mentioned in your first article that staff were "not allowed to campaign on this issue." Is this an official diktat?
I believe so, although I haven't seen any documentary evidence. Staff are very wary when discussing it with us, and have said they can't do more. They must be worried about their jobs, and hoping to be redeployed elsewhere, perhaps in "a different kind of service".
10) What has the campaign done so far?
Well, we've posted on Indymedia! We've handed out slips in the daycare with contact details, to help other volunteers, family and patients connect with us if they want to campaign.
We've set up a website http://www.savehaywarddaycare.org.uk/ . Two patients have started their own petitions - one to David Cameron, and one to the PCT - so we've decided to keep both going, as they're to different recipients. The one to the PCT has also been turned into an online petition http://shhd.epetitions.net/ . Petitions have been handed out or left in the Oncology Department, at the Gedling hustings, at gyms, shops and everywhere campaigners go. One cancer patient sat outside a charity shop for two hours collecting signatures. We're encouraging everyone to write letters. We've contacted MPs. We've contacted the media - in fact, later on today we'll be posing for a photoshoot for the Evening Post (article expected about Thursday) and then we'll be interviewed by the BBC (TV news breakfast, lunchtime and early evening Wednesday; Radio 8am news Wednesday).
We're gathering information - e.g. by asking Notts Hospice (where patients are supposed to go after September 1st) whether they could accommodate the extra 100 visits per week; and by making FOI enquiries to the PCT to find out some statistics about Hayward House and the intended future of palliative care.
I must make a mention of Councillor Mick Newton, whose help has been tremendous, with contacting MPs, the council and the media, and knowing the way around processes.
We're networking, trying to gather as much support as possible.
11) What do you have planned over the next few weeks?
There's lots to do. We hope to have our first meeting in May, then we'll have more coherent plans. But some of the things I see need doing, and some of which I'll do, include writing to the PCT personally, putting forward all the arguments; helping patients without confidence in letter-writing to do the same; finding out the PBCs who will be replacing the PCT, and lobbying them; getting GPs on board; producing a flyer; distributing that flyer and the petitions even more widely; having a presence at Mayday and maybe the Green Festival; contacting the national press.
I don't believe the PCT had an inkling of what Hayward House daycare is all about. I believe they thought it was just another day centre. I promised one of my passengers that I would do all I could to stop daycare from closing. If necessary, I shall have to think more creatively!
12) Have you been able to link up with any other anti-cuts campaigns?
Notts SOS. Otherwise, we've only known about this for less than a fortnight, so there hasn't been time to do that much. Add it to the list of things to do!
13) Have you heard anything from the Primary Care Trust (PCT) yet?
Only that they've received my Freedom of Information requests, and I should get an answer in due course.
14) What can concerned readers do if they want to support the campaign?
Have a look at the website - it's got a page full of suggestions. Spread the word, write letters, circulate petitions, contact us and come to our meeting when it's announced.
In recent weeks it has emerged that the daycare service provided by Hayward House is to end. A campaign against this move has sprung up, attracting considerable local media attention. I interviewed one of the users of the service to find out what they felt about what was going on.
1) Can you describe the services you receive at Hayward House?
I have been a daycare patient for over 6 years. I am in the advanced stages of cancer to my spine, lungs and kidneys. Very frequently between my oncology appointments I am quite poorly and in increasing pain, I am always able to see a member of the medical team during my daycare visit and they always able to help me. Whilst I enjoy the social element of my visits the daycare unit is a frontline 1st class medical facility. The PCT seem to want to airbrush the superb medical care offered and focus on the social aspect which although is important it must not eclipse the medical side.
2) What is your opinion of the plans to cut this service?
The decision to relocate this service is not only heartless it has not been thought through in a clear and concise way. Over a period of time everyone who uses daycare creates a special bond with the other people they see everyday/every week. It is an extremely cruel to transfer patients to various locations. I.e. The Nottingham hospice is only able to accommodate another 10 patients ,as there are in excess of 5000 visits per year to daycare it is blatantly obvious that Treetops will not be able to cope with the remaining capacity.Both these hospices do not provide the level of medical care which is offered at Hayward House.
3) What would you like to say to the Primary Care Trust (PCT) about their decision to cuts this service?
The PCT must reverse their decision to close the Daycare unit. In the last year in excess of 70k has been spent in refurbishment of Daycare and it is a travesty if this money is wasted.Both joint CEs of Nottingham County NHS have refused to visit the unit which proves that the medical care element has not been taken into account.
4) What would you like any concerned readers to do to support the campaign?
We must all join together to ensure that Hayward House Daycare continues as it is now. The decision to close has been taken by persons with no clinical experience in end of life cancer care and has totally betrayed David Camerons manifesto pledge of no cuts to frontline services. If end of life cancer care is not front line perhaps Mr Cameron can tell me what is?.
24-04-2011 15:30The usual toothless eejits went to Brighton and proved nothing.
The latest offering from Notts Save Our Services bringing together anti-cuts ongoings in Nottingham and Nottinghamsire. You can visit the Notts SOS website for a Word version and back issues of the newsletter.
a dozen police have arrived in the square and are threatening eviction. campers are deciding on their response and calling out for peaceful support.
after the st george's day 'celebration' was cleared away, the 'occupation against the cuts' campers took up their usual position in the square as per the previous three weeks, but at half past midnight, a dozen police have arrived threatening an eviction attempt. see background at http://london.indymedia.org/articles/8837
*We kindly request News and Media organisations to reference this Indy Media article if they intend to use the information provided.
the peaceful 'occupation against the cuts' has established its camp in trafalgar square for the fourth week running tonight. the 24 hour protest will camp overnight and run workshops and awareness-raising exercises during the day tomorrow.
click on image for larger version. all images are 'some rights reserved' - free for credited non-commercial use, otherwise contact author for permission
as per last week, trafalgar square was being used for an event (this week it was a st george's day celebration), and so the occupation began on the grass in front of the national gallery. there they set up their marquee and ground sheets and held a picnic while waiting for the square to clear.
later, they will pitch tents in the square, and tomorrow will run their workshops and talk to the public.
this is the fourth week that the occupation has taken place. it was originally called a week after trafalgar square was cleared by an enormous and unnecessarily violent police kettling operation after the TUC march and other anti-cuts protests on the 26th march.
they announced their occupation would be entirely lawful and non-violent and effectively dared the police to attack them once more.
although filmed by 'heritage wardens' and watched by police (both overtly and covertly), they stayed the full 24 hours, and outreached with large numbers of passers-by who also participated in workshops run by the really free school.
when i visited last week (their third occupation), their numbers had increased, and they were also joined by the beginnings of a homeless rights project. they had spread out large sheets of blank paper, forming the slogan 'no cuts', and on the paper they invited people to write how the cuts had affected them. by the end of the occupation last sunday, the sheets were completely covered with moving descriptions of misfortune, misery and deprivation written by members of the public over the previous 24 hours.
the occupation is open to all as long as their intention is non-violent and respectful. supporters should also bring food and non-alcoholic drink to share.
The fifth edition of The Grey Matter - Newcastle's radical independent political zine. This pdf is how it should be printed to make a booklet, feel free to print, copy and distribute! For a version that makes more sense to the online reader, go to http://thegreymatter.wordpress.com/2011/04/23/the-grey-matter-april-2011/ .