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February 29, 2016 / politicsbitesize

Open letter – NHS Reinstatement Bill

Below is an open letter to my local MP regarding the debate in Parliament on the ‘The National Health Service Bill 2015-2016’.

Please consider writing to your MP before the 11th March 2016 to ask them to attend the debate.

For more information on the NHS Reinstatement Bill please visit:


It has been brought to my attention that on Friday 11th MarchThe National Health Service Bill 2015-2016‘ is scheduled for debate. The cross-party Bill proposes to fully restore the NHS as an accountable public service by reversing 25 years of marketization in the NHS, by abolishing the purchaser-provider split, ending contracting and re-establishing public bodies and public services accountable to local communities.

In light of the proposed imposition of the junior doctors’ contract by the Health Secretary and the recent data from a BBC Freedom of Information regarding the high number of vacancies within the NHS, I believe that is more important now than ever to reinstate the founding vision of the NHS.

It is vital that there are enough MPs present in the House of Commons to debate the Bill properly and so I ask that you attend the debate on behalf of myself and other concerned constituents.

Please can you let me know whether you will attend the debate?

Yours sincerely,



February 28, 2016 / politicsbitesize

Junior Doctors and a Seven-day NHS: A Timeline

JunDocsImgThe current Tory rhetoric and media narrative advocating a seven-day NHS has a long history, which truly begins in the mid-80s in the Thatcher/Reagan years. For the sake of brevity, below is a (non-exhaustive) timeline of meetings, events and policy papers from 2012 advocating a seven-day elective NHS by various bodies including the government, think tanks, NHS Employers and NHS England. Most importantly, however, the timeline also charts the impact of this process on the junior doctors and their stand, with the BMA, against the unsafe and unfair contract that has been generated by these documents and consultations.


January 2012Equality for All: delivering safe care seven days a week published by NHS Improvement

– Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, the NHS Medical Director, invited key clinical leaders to a meeting on 20th January to consider how seven-day working in specific services and clinical areas could be introduced successfully across the NHS |

29 March 2012 – Andrew Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act 2012 passed by parliament. Part of Choice in health and social care and NHS efficiency

June 2012 – 13 NHS Trusts set up the South West Pay, Terms and Conditions Consortium (SWPTCC) with the aim of setting up a regional system of pay, terms and conditions, which would operate separately of the NHS nationally. The consortium met with opposition by the Trade Unions and in Parliament

November 2012 – The think tank Reform publishes a report, drawing heavily on SWPTCC, tabling recommendations to Government on how to improve productivity and efficiency in the NHS. The document stipulated that the apparent “surplus of doctors” in the UK “creates an opportunity to drive down pay and review medical ranks”

– Scoping study on contract for doctors in training by NHS Employers published

February 2013 – The NHS Services, Seven Days a Week Forum, chaired by the National Medical Director, was established

March 2013 – Policy Paper 2010 to 2015 government policy: Choice in health and social care was first published

– SWPTCC reports its finding into pay for all doctors, and all other NHS staff (most of whom were covered by the previously negotiated ‘Agenda for Change’ terms)

April 2013 – SWPTCC disbands and no Trust proceeds with its plans

June 2013 – Heads of Terms agreed with the BMA for possible negotiations

July 2013 – NHS England along with our national partners launched A Call to Action which set out the challenges and opportunities faced by the health and care systems across the country over the next five to ten years

– UK junior doctors’ committee agreed to enter formal negotiations with the government

September 2013 – Consultants Committee agreed to enter formal negotiations with the government for England and Northern Ireland

October 2013 – Department of Health grants NHS Employers a mandate to negotiate with the BMA, formal negotiations commence

16 November 2013 – NHS Improving Quality report Every day counts published

20 Dec 2013Everyone Counts: Planning for Patients 2014/15 – 2018/19 published by NHS England. Document purpose: Guidance. Seven-day NHS proposals

Description: ‘This guidance sets out the need for bold and ambitious five year strategic plans from NHS commissioners. It describes an approach to deliver transformational change with the first critical steps over the next two years, to achieve the continued ambition to secure sustainable high quality care for all, now and for future generations’

December 2013NHS Services, Seven Days a Week Forum Summary of Initial Findings

July 2014 – Danny Alexander writes to the Review Body Members (including the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB)) about pay rises in the NHS and (in point 6) raises the positive uptake of the offer of a ‘proactive and systematic approach to considering contractual issues’ with consultant and doctors in training. He asks the DDRB to ‘make recommendations on new contractual arrangements for doctors and dentists in training’ (See NHSPRB & DDRB 2015/16 Special Remit Report)

24 Oct 2014NHS’s Five Year Forward View Report published

December 2014 – The BMA submitted evidence to DDRB

October 2014 – The BMA stalled talks due to the Government’s failure to agree to safeguarding measures for doctors’ welfare and patient safety

Jan 2015NHSPRB & DDRB 2015/16 Special Remit Report: ‘In recognition of the strong case for delivering seven-day healthcare services on the grounds of patient safety and quality of care, the Parliamentary under Secretary of State for Health has asked the NHS Pay Review Body (NHSPRB) to consider the barriers and enablers within the Agenda for Change pay system for delivering health care services every day of the week in a financially sustainable way

Both the NHSPRB and DDRB have been asked to submit observations, for England only, by July 2015 which will then be reported to Ministers’

March 2015 – DDRB invited stakeholders to give evidence

8 May 2015 – Policy paper: 2010 to 2015 government policy: choice in health and social care             From: Department of Health and The Rt Hon Norman Lamb (First published: 25 March 2013)

18th May 2015Seven-day a week NHS: Prime Minister’s visit and speech

July 2015 – DDRB submitted its final report to the Government

August 2015 – BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee decided not to re-enter contract negotiations

September 2015 – The BMA voted to ballot junior members in England for industrial action and made the decision to re-enter consultant contract negotiations

18 October 2016 – Junior doctors’ protest in London

19 October 2016 – Early day motion 539 JUNIOR DOCTORS primarily sponsored by Caroline Lucas is tabled

November 2015 – In a turnout of 76.2 per cent, junior doctors voted overwhelmingly for industrial action

December 2015 – Industrial action in England was suspended following conciliatory talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health

21 Dec 2015 – Government’s NHS mandate 2016 to 2017 published: ‘The mandate helps set direction for the NHS and helps ensure the NHS is accountable to Parliament and the public. The mandate must be published each year, to ensure that NHS England’s objectives remain up to date. This mandate was produced following public consultation.

By setting a multi-year mandate with a multi-year budget the government is enabling the NHS to plan more effectively to deliver our long-term aim to achieve the transformation set out in the NHS’s Five Year Forward View and create a fully 7-day NHS’

January 2016 – Talks between the BMA and the government were restarted and based on early progress, the decision was made to suspend the 48-hour industrial action planned for 26-28 January. Talks concluded with no resolution. Industrial action went ahead for 24 hours from 12 January

February 2016 – Talks between the BMA and the government concluded with no resolution. BMA decide to go ahead with the second day of industrial action planned for 10 February

– Junior doctors protest outside Houses of Parliament

– Jeremy Hunt announces his plan to impose the junior doctors’ contract to parliament

9 March 2016 – 48hr strike action against the imposition of the contract by junior doctors planned

6 April 2016 – 48hr strike action against the imposition of the contract by junior doctors planned

26 April 2016 – 48hr strike action against the imposition of the contract by junior doctors planned


January 18, 2016 / politicsbitesize


Do we want a privatised health care system like the one in the US? Well, if we don’t support the junior doctors or reject the creeping privatisation of our NHS that’s what our future holds!

Big Up the NHS

There is a question that has been troubling me for some time now. I think I have worked out the answer but if I am right it is deeply disturbing.

Why does our government have such a fixation about providing a 7 day elective (non emergency) NHS?

Now let me be perfectly clear about this. They are talking about non emergency services – getting your family planning advice on a Saturday afternoon and your varicose vein operation on a Sunday morning. Cameron was unequivocal in his speech to the Tory Spring Conference in Manchester last year. He said “with a future Conservative government, we would have a truly 7 day NHS” and that “everyone will have access to the NHS services they need 7 days a week by 2020 – the first country in the world to make this happen”.

Let me also be perfectly clear that the proposed changes…

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October 2, 2015 / politicsbitesize

The cancerous effect of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill

M_white_dark_RGBOn the 17th September 2015 the second reading of the Welfare Reform and Work Bill took place in Parliament. The political ideology behind this Bill is to incentivise people to get into employment by reducing the amount of out-of-work benefits available to them. Despite an initial common sense interpretation of this – if you don’t work then you don’t have much money to live on and we’re not going to give you any more, so you may as well get out there and work – its practical application to the real world is much more sinister.

In the days before the second reading Macmillan Cancer Support submitted evidence that highlighted the Bill’s effects on existing and potential cancer sufferers. At present, people being treated for cancer are entitled to claim Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which is a benefit designed to support people who have been medically assessed as having limited capability for work. ESA is spilt into two elements: the Support Group and the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG). “Claimants in the Support Group are identified as having the most severe functional impairment or risk to their health and their condition means that they have limited capability both for work and for work-related activity. Claimants in the WRAG are identified as having limited capability for work, but are able to take part in some work-related activity” and are not reasonably required to work or to search for work (as is the case for claiming Job Seekers Allowance).

Cancer patients in the WRAG element currently receive only £102.15 a week to help with transportation, extra treatment and general living costs. From 2017, the government is proposing to reduce this by approximately 30% to £73.10 a week, in order to bring it in to line with the amount received by people on Job Seekers Allowance (JSA). The reason for this is outlined in “the ESA Impact Assessment accompanying the Bill [which] states that 61% of ESA claimants in the WRAG want to work, and that therefore reducing the ESA WRAG rate to the same level as JSA will ‘provide the right incentives and support to encourage people to move back to work’”.

As Macmillan Cancer Support rightly pointed out in its written evidence, this ideologically motivated Bill is ignoring the inherent difference “between someone wanting to go back to work… [who is] physically and mentally able to do so” and someone who is medically, and therefore physically and mentally, unable to do so.  They go on, “whereas claimants of JSA are available, seeking and able to engage in work, claimants in the WRAG have, by definition, been medically assessed to have only a ‘limited capability’ for work and cannot therefore be reasonably required to work. It is imperative that the level of financial support provided to claimants recognises this distinction”.

A person with cancer is already emotionally, mentally and physically engaged in a battle with an insidious illness and its invasive treatment, and they do not need an additional financial burden to carry with them. Macmillan is therefore calling on the Government to remove Clauses 13 and 14 from the Bill. According to Hansard, the Bill is currently being considered in a Public Bill Committee, scheduled to meet on 13 and 15 October 2015, when MPs can further consider the Bill in detail and make amendments to it. Please consider writing to your MP to ask them to vote against this bill in its entirety or to request that they remove Clauses 13 and 14 (


If you are feeling active, then join tens of thousands of people this weekend to march in Manchester to send a clear message to the Conservative Party about their Government’s damaging programme of austerity and their attacks on the rights of working people. Please join us if you can and help spread the word:

September 22, 2015 / politicsbitesize

The Meaning of David Cameron by Richard Seymour

Five years ago, Richard Seymour wrote ‘The Meaning of David Cameron’ and, as ‘pig-gate’ rambles on, his analysis of the symbolism of men like our Prime Minister couldn’t be more apt.


“Cameron is of little interest, except as a cipher, a sort of nonentity who channels the prevailing geist”

So goes the introduction of Richard Seymour’s excellent new book, The Meaning of David Cameron. Indeed, David Cameron has been portrayed as something of a nonentity elsewhere. Amando Iannucci’s Time Trumpet, for example, made light of the vacuous nature of David Cameron’s leadership. His presentational style, mimicking Blair, a simulacrum of an already image obsessed hollowed out political shell.

It argues, then, what ‘Cameron’ stands for, or rather represents  is very much a continuation of Blair. In other words, a re-hash of the Thatcher imposed, now status-quo, neo-liberal model of government and public services, and the anti-democratic rule by financiers, business and technicians which this brings with it.

What I have been, particularly impressed with when reading The Meaning of David Cameron, is Seymour’s close reading of the ideological co-ordinates that make…

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September 2, 2015 / politicsbitesize

Capitalist dynamics – Event Reminder

PrivSignTogether with the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation and the publisher Spokesman Books, the Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice, University of Nottingham, will host the following seminar on 16 September 2015, 6-8 p.m. in A01 in Highfield House, University Park, Nottingham:

Dexter Whitfield – ‘Capitalist dynamics reconfiguring the state: alternatives to privatising public services’.


July 30, 2015 / politicsbitesize

15 times when Jeremy Corbyn was on the right side of history

A list that highlights Jeremy Corbyn’s credentials as a principled man and a campaigning politician. Let’s get him in to Number 10! #JezWeCan

The World Turned Upside Down

jezza aparted1. Apartheid: Jeremy was a staunch opponent of the Apartheid regime and a supporter of Nelson Mandela and the ANC. He was even arrested for protesting outside the South African embassy in 1984.
2. Chile: Jeremy was an opponent of the brutal dictator Pinochet (an ally of the British government under Thatcher) and was a leading campaigner in the quest to bring him to justice. In 1998 Pinochet was arrested in London.
3. LGBT rights: As noted in Pink News, Jeremy was an early champion of LGBT rights. At a time when the Tories decried supporting LGBT rights as ‘loony left’, Jeremy voted against section 28 which sought to demonise same-sex relationships.
4. The Miners’ Strike: Jeremy went against the Labour leadership and fully supported the miners in their effort to prevent the total destruction of their industry and communities. Cabinet papers released last year prove that the NUM were…

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