WE ARE Tower Hamlets Keep Our NHS Public
- campaign for local services, freely accessed by all – and against NHS migrant charges
- support local health workers
- monitor the NHS locally and nationally
- oppose the re-organisation, privatisation, marketisation and financialisation of the NHS
- share information through leafleting, public meetings, talks, demos, press releases and social media
- challenge local health commissioners, and
- lobby/brief MPs & councillors.
We are affiliated to Keep Our NHS Public nationally. We work with four other NHS campaign groups as part of NE London Save Our NHS (NELSON).
Go to our Twitter and Facebook feeds for real-time information on our activities and views.
13 January 2021
Covid crisis – how the NHS in Tower Hamlets is coping
Our report on what’s happening at the Royal London Hospital & how local GPs are leading the local vaccination effort featured on Jenny Fisher’s Tuesday Show on 12 January (see from 37 mins).
(Jenny is the Editor of East London News and her VodTalks air live at 10pm on Tuesdays.)
We strongly support the campaign to make sure the new Whipps Cross Hospital in Leytonstone genuinely meets community needs. It’s clear that decisions taken now will have a knock-on effect on hospitals and services across the whole of NE London.
The rebuild is long overdue and we welcome the commitment Barts Health NHS Trust has made to complete the new hospital by 2026. With architects appointed and work beginning to prepare the site – formerly a nurses’ home – the plans are really taking shape.
But at this critical stage, we are deeply worried about some of the emerging details.
- Despite the area’s growing and ageing population, the plans include slashing 51 beds – on the assumption (no evidence provided) that cash-starved community services will take up the slack.
- The Government has promised just £400m towards the costs – so the rebuild depends on selling off a large chunk of NHS land at the site to private developers for housing. Whipps Cross would struggle to expand to meet future needs, while staff already struggle to find affordable homes in the area.
- Barts is proposing the new hospital could be a Centre of Excellence for the care of frail and older people – but we need to be clear what that means in practice.
The campaign is calling for:
- more beds, not a cut of 51
- guarantees there will be a 24/7 blue-light A&E and all the facilities to support this
- more Government funding
- a truly sustainable hospital and site for patients, staff and our planet
- key worker housing that really is affordable, and
- community involvement in the whole process – the Redevelopment Board must be open to the public, with no decisions taken behind closed doors.
Post-Brexit trade deals: a real threat to the NHS
TH KONP members are playing a key role in the campaign to hold the government to account over post-Brexit trade deals.
The government has said the NHS won’t be included in its post-Brexit trade deals. However, it refuses to introduce legislation to protect the NHS.
Fears for the NHS include the possibility that:
- the UK will agree to substantial drug price rises, to meet the demands of the big US-based drug companies. This would make the NHS unsustainable;
- trade deals will protect overseas investors by allowing corporations to sue the UK government if its policies affect their profits. This would make privatisation of NHS services almost impossible to reverse;
- the UK will be pressurised to weaken regulations for data privacy, while making NHS data available to off-shore, multinational companies; and
- standards for food, chemicals, toiletries, animal welfare, drug testing and agricultural practices will be lowered in line with those of countries like the USA, with serious consequences for public health.
Unlike elsewhere, the UK Parliament is being largely kept in the dark about trade talks, with limited opportunities to scrutinise or debate what’s being negotiated, and no way of definitively vetoing a bad deal.
Tower Hamlets KONP members have joined campaigns by national KONP and groups like We Own it, Trade Justice Movement and Global Justice now. Our recent actions have included:
- lobbying MPs and members of the House of Lords to support amendments that aim to protect the NHS from trade deals and increase Parliamentary scrutiny;
- submitting evidence to parliamentary committees on risks to the NHS, especially from the UK-US trade deal;
- researching what US digital trade rules mean for the NHS.
Tell Barts Health, migrant charges are racist too
The Board of Barts Health NHS Trust discussed two important reports in July 2020. One confronted racism. One ignored racism. We are calling on Barts Health to stop ignoring the elephant in the room. Migrant charges in the NHS are racist too.
Confronting racism: We welcome the Barts Health report: Co-creating a truly inclusive organisation (published in July 2020). We want Barts Health to succeed in unpicking racism in our local NHS and to use its influence for the good in the wider community.
But Barts Health can’t and won’t succeed, if at the same time it ignores the racism behind charging migrants for healthcare.
Ignoring racism: The Trust’s Overseas Visitors Annual Report for 2019-20 focuses on the revenue generated by 977 patients who were denied free in-patient care in our hospitals. The racist hostile environment policies introduced by recent governments mean that people who live in NE London are now charged as ‘visitors’ if they can’t produce the right papers to prove their official status in the UK.
We call on Barts Health to start reporting the effects its charging policies are having on our ethnic minority communities. It must include this issue in its work around racism.
Test-isolate-care-trace: An emergency call to councils
As the pandemic took hold, we called on the NE London boroughs to set up local test and trace systems.
We could see that testing run by Deloitte, alongside contact tracing organised by Serco could only fail catastrophically. This is exactly what has happened in the months since.
We ran a petition and lobbied to put pressure on our councils to stand up for our communities by insisting on using their existing pandemic plans and public health resources to take a lead on test and trace.
With Government policy changing by the hour, some of our councils are beginning to work with primary care and the community to bring key elements of test and trace back where it belongs – in our local neighbourhoods.