Celebrate the NHS’ 69th Birthday Tonight at Guildhall Square

Join local activists to celebrate the 69th birthday of the NHS and show your support for nurses and NHS workers following the government’s recent decision – supported by MP for Portsmouth North, Penny Mordaunt – to refuse emergency and public service workers a pay rise. Sarah Cheverton reports.

A group of local activists have organised a celebration in the Guildhall Square this evening to honour the 69th birthday of the NHS. People attending are invited to wear blue and white – the colours of the NHS – as part of the celebrations, and to pen NHS-themed poems to be read during the event.

Limericks about the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, are particularly welcome, but writers are reminded there may be children present.

A ‘Wall of Shame’ will be created for members of the public to leave their own messages for the Health Secretary, and to record experiences of the ongoing cuts to health services.

Hampshire and IOW Defend the NHS group are encouraging Portsmouth residents to sign an online petition to be sent to all CCGs in the Hampshire and IOW region, to stop the ongoing implementation of the Sustainable Transformation Plan – or STP, previously reported on by S&C:

For those who don’t know – and there are a lot of us – STPs are 5 year plans for all aspects of NHS spending in England. 44 plans have been drawn up by health services, local authorities and health providers across the country, each one covering geographical areas known as ‘footprints’, and representing an average population of 1.2 million people. As well as covering NHS spending, each plan also has to show how NHS services can better integrate with local authority services such as adult social care – ‘known as place-based planning’ – and is expected to cover the period from October 2016 – March 2021.

Nationally, STPs have proved highly controversial with activists often referring to them as ‘Slash, Trash and Privatise’ plans.

Despite a lack of public awareness, understanding and support for the controversial plans, the STP continues to be rolled out.

The online petition reads:

By Hampshire and Isle of Wight Defend the NHS

To all Hampshire and Isle of Wight CCGs

RE. Hampshire and Isle of Wight NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs)

Following the general election on June 8th, the British government has been in disarray. Yet the Hampshire and Isle of Wight NHS STPs (a programme of privatisation and cuts also known as Slash, Trash and Privatise) are continuing after they were signed off on 23rd December 2016 for a two- year period.

We are beginning to see the devastating effects the STP cuts and closures are having on our NHS in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. GP surgeries are closing, with no plans to replace them like for like. The only plans we have seen are consistent with the stated STP aims of cutting GP workload by 30% and handing the work to “non- clinical staff”, i.e. volunteers and untrained staff.

Then there is the Naylor report, fully backed by the Prime Minister, and its explicit cross reference to STPs which in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight includes selling off 19% of the estate. It is likely that the Isle of Wight will be particularly affected.

In view of the drastic loss of this government’s credibility and ability to govern, we the undersigned demand that all current and ongoing footprint- wide implementation of the STPs stops immediately. The plans are hugely damaging for our NHS and need to be scrapped for good.

The petition can be found here.

Following the decision to refuse a pay rise for emergency and public sector workers, Portsmouth North residents can also write a letter to MP, Penny Mordaunt, who voted in favour of continuing the public sector pay freeze that has been in place since 2010.

A draft framework for the letter is highlighted on the NHS Birthday event page, as follows:

Dear Penny Mordaunt,

As your constituent I am very concerned that your voting record as published in the Independent 29th June 2017 indicates that you voted to keep the public sector pay cap, more precisely referred to as successive real-terms pay cuts. Nurses and public sector workers in general are angry and outraged at the double standards of the government after it would seem that £1 billion for arrangements with the DUP were found quickly yet no extra money for public sector staff was made available. The false and politically motivated narrative of “austerity” continues unabated.

This comes as the Prime Minister and others publicly praised our emergency services, firefighters, NHS staff following recent terrorist attacks and the horrible Grenfell tower disaster. This praise now rings hollow in the ears of all affected public sector workers. This praise does not feed public sector workers’ children, it does not pay the mortgage.

Please explain your reasons for voting to keep the pay cap, especially as you thus voted for even more drastic NHS staff shortages, for even more nurses having to resort to pay day loans and food banks, for even greater risks to patient safety through understaffing.

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely

(Name, address, postcode)

The Happy 69th Birthday NHS event takes place in Portsmouth’s Guildhall Square tonight between 6-7pm. All are welcome.