We have been campaigning strongly against the way our local health Trust, Barts Health, has been managing our local health services.

We will continue to criticise where we think things are going wrong for the people of Tower Hamlets.

But I want here to spare a thought for those who work for the Trust.

Reading the reports of those who use the Trust’s services a clear message shines through.  People often report real problems getting access to medical services.  However, when they do get access, they report great service, from dedicated, skilled professionals.

These health professionals are supported by hard working, and often low paid, staff: cleaners, cooks, technicians and administrative staff.

The staff of course have been in the front line of the problems.  They have faced forced downgrading in their pay grades.  Why should these staff pay the price of cuts, mismanagement and disastrous PFI arrangements?  What can be more demoralising than being told that you are no longer worth the grade you have already achieved?

They have faced threats and intimidation, and in at least one case the sack for doing no more than speaking out about their concerns at the Trust.

One of the most worrying findings in the recent CQC report is the existence of a bullying culture.  Lets be clear about what this means.  It means that where employees were so concerned about things happening in the trust that they wished to complain about it, that the managers would bully them into withdrawing their complaints.  The effect of this was to make it plain that complaints would not be tolerated.  This is an outrage.  The services provided often relate to matters of life and death.  If there are failures or concerns, it is absolutely appalling that these managers had the nerve to try to suppress them.  This suggests that some managers would prefer to allow dangerous or unsatisfactory practices to continue than to have any failings in their organisation exposed.

Against this background it is heroic that the staff have continued to struggle and have provided first class medical care. We know they were able to do this more often than not.

I for one want to pay tribute to the staff who continue to get on, every day, with providing these vital medical services.  We need to free these people to get on with the job to which they have dedicated themselves.  It is as a result of the commitment which they continue to demonstrate that I know that the future can work, if the proper funding and support is provided.



Campaign Launch

What a great turn out today to officially launch our election campaign.

It was great to have Sharar Ali, Deputy Leader of the Green Party, in attendance.

The theme was the crisis in the health service, which is threatening local GP surgeries, and our hospitals facing unprecedented deficits.

The Green Party stands for a publicly funded and publicly provided health service.  Thats why Caroline Lucas presented the NHS Reinstatement Bill this week to Parliament.

Great response from everyone out in Whitechapel Market this morning too!

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Just when you think things cannot get any worse at our local NHS (see my previous blogs), we get this, from The Standard on Friday 9 March.


The creeping privatisation of our health services may be about to speed up dramatically unless people vote to keep our NHS public.

Every vote for a party which will fight for a publicly funded and publicly provided health service will make the difference.

Is the party you are going to vote for going to do that?

The Tax Dodging Bill Campaign

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A big thank you to Caroline and Ruth, local activists who briefed me on the Tax Dodging Bill.  And thanks also to the the many of you who have contacted me about this, showing how strongly people in Tower Hamlets feel about this crucial issue.

I am happy to say that I fully support this great campaign and I hope that when you consider where to place your vote you think about it too.




Save our Surgeries

You cannot have failed to notice the SOS banners adorning all of our local GP surgeries.


How on earth, when we spend so much on our health services, which in Tower Hamlets are facing greater and greater demands, can we be facing surgery closures?

It is a scandal.

I have found out from those who know about these things how fiendishly complicated GP funding is.  But the long and the short of it is cuts.  Real cuts.  And deep cuts.  Our GP surgeries really are under threat, some are very likely to close unless we all rally round and fight for them.

Several surgeries have been saved for now by concerted campaigns by managers, doctors and patients standing together.  But the threat is real and immediate.

Please find out if your local GP surgery is under imminent threat, and if so take whatever action they are asking for to help.

There is so much waste in the so called ‘internal market’ of the health service that to be cutting back GP services is utter madness.  This is where everyone agrees the future lies, not in expensive hospitals.  We all prefer to be treated by good quality, easily accessible local services.  That these just happen to the cheapest form of treatment is a happy coincidence.  To be threatening them with closure is to threaten the whole service.

The Green Party stand shoulder to shoulder with the brave Doctors and staff who have been fighting these disastrous cuts, and we will continue to do so.

Royal London Hospital costs £1.1b? That’ll be £7.1b please.

The public finance initiative (PFI) was a way of funding capital public projects by paying private companies to pay for projects, and then paying the companies back.  The plan was that this would not show up as public debt (if that is so, then the book keepers must be very dim not to notice it).  The obvious drawback is that it is cripplingly expensive.  These private companies did not embark on this for the fun of it, they did it because it would make them lots of money.  And by jove it does.

The last Labour government was addicted to them.

The Royal London Hospital was built using such a scheme.  It was built by a consortium led by Skanska.  By chance, Skanska is one of the PFI funding companies.  So Skanska made handsome profits building the hospital, and will continue to enjoy a steady income, inflation protected.

The contract which was signed will last for 40 years (yes, 40 years).  At the end of the scheme, which involves not only the money but some payments for maintenance and services, it is calculated that that the total payments will be £7.1b.  The table below shows how much of a swindle the total PFI budget in the health service has been.

The senior management of Barts and the London NHS Trust have all just resigned: the CEO, the Head of Finance, the Head of Nursing and the Chief Non Executive Officer.

Barts and the London has undergone a massive management reorganisation up to 2012.  Really massive.  It now encompasses Barts, the Royal London, the London Chest, Mile End Hospital, Newham University Hospital and Whipps Cross.  Goodness only knows how much public money has been spent in these management reorganisations.

If anyone ever thought this was a good idea, I guess they don’t now.  All the people who carried out this reorganisation, at vast public expense, seem to be leaving.

And what are the results?  The trust has the biggest deficit of any Trust in the land.  £94m and counting.

The statistics for the Trust are poor and getting worse in terms of waiting times and outcomes.  Staff are demoralised due to a panic down banding, where all staff had their pay bands reduced.  Thats the way to encourage loyalty!

While waiting lists lengthen, there are two empty floors in the gleaming Royal London towers, with no money to staff them.

The Barts Board have been spending £500,000 per month on management consultants: £7m in 14 months.

The yearly charge on the PFI scheme is at least £54million.

The solutions to these absurdly wasteful policies are obvious.  We fund our health service from central taxation.  That gives you great benefits in terms of planning and control.  The so called ‘internal market’ of the NHS, far from driving up efficiency, has led to profligate waste.  We have a multiplicity of commissioning and contracting bodies, who themselves seem to be endlessly reforming themselves.  In 1974 management costs in the NHS were 5%.  This was probably too low.  But it is now 15% of a vastly bigger budget (even allowing for inflation).  Cut this bill to 10% and this would provide £5b a year freed up for front line services where they are needed.

This can wait no longer.

Only the Green Party and the National Health Action Party stand for a publicly funded AND publicly provided health service.

References: https://peoplevsbartspfi.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/the-trouble-with-the-floundering-flagship-that-is-barts-health/