Monthly Round Up

Fabian Society – The biggest attack on the NHS

The biggest attack on the NHS

by Mohammad Yasin MP writing for the Fabian Review

24 August 2017

No one disputes that something needs to be done to solve the crisis in the NHS. When the deaths of two patients after long waits on trolleys in hospital corridors in January prompted the Red Cross to declare the NHS was facing a “humanitarian crisis”, as hospitals and ambulance services struggled to keep up with rising demand, it was clear to most of us that the NHS was past breaking point.

The whole system is creaking. Trusts are tumbling further into the red. General practice is on its knees and A&E departments are full to bursting.

Yet rather than give the NHS the money it so desperately needs to survive, the Five Year Forward View means the whole service has at least £22bn of efficiency savings to deliver in return for the paltry £8bn given by the chancellor.

Sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) have been described as the biggest attack on the NHS you’ve never heard of.

And that’s because in March 2016 NHS England began organising yet another drastic reorganisation of the NHS without anywhere near the scrutiny and fanfare of Andrew Lansley’s disastrous top-down reorganisation of the NHS under the coalition government.

History is already repeating itself – the STP’s  aims are the stuff of fantasy rather than reality. But the plans, largely kept under wraps, are progressing at lightning speed without consultation with professionals or the public.

This time the NHS in England has been geographically divided into 44 STP areas or ‘footprints’ with populations between 300,000 and 3 million, intended to implement the Five Year Forward View plan for the NHS until 2020. These areas were locally agreed between NHS Trusts, local authorities and Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs).

STPs are the mechanism to deliver future healthcare in England. They promise to improve health outcomes and quality of service at the same time as delivering further savings. Yet we all know savings means cuts.

The huge footprint areas– some including as many as 12 CCGs – have been told to ‘return the system to aggregate financial balance’ as well as improving ‘quality and safety’, shoring up general practice and rolling out a seven-day NHS.

So the government has set a mission impossible which our hospitals have no choice but to accept. To receive funding each STP footprint has to show how it is able to balance its books. A catch 22 if ever there was one.

My constituency is in the footprint area encompassing Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes (BLMK). Twelve NHS organisations and four local councils have been working together to find ways of improving and modernising services to meet the demands of the STPs. In its submission to NHS England, the BLMK plan states:

“Almost one million people live in Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes – three very different places that are also diverse within themselves. These differences affect what local people need from their health and social care services. For example, in Milton Keynes, services must meet the needs of one of the most rapidly growing populations in the country. In Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire, services must meet the needs of a population with a higher than average number of people aged over 75. And in Luton, services must meet the needs of one of the most vibrant and ethnically diverse populations outside of London.”

It’s an extraordinarily difficult task to meet these vastly different needs under one shared plan at a time when demand for services (largely because of our ageing population) is rising across the board. One way or another sharing already overstretched resources means that the public will lose out.

Addressing the NHS deficit – a deficit that let’s remember has been caused by chronic underfunding under the Tories – is the overriding priority for STPs and it is clear that some STP footprints are considering significant changes which are proving to be very controversial with both politicians and the public. Examples of the cost-saving measures being proposed include the closure or downgrading of some A&E units and other services deemed to be clinically and/or financially unsustainable.

But the process has been shrouded in secrecy: you won’t see these STPs anywhere. The first that communities have heard of them is when they’ve learned their A&E, children’s unit, stroke or maternity services are under threat of closure or being moved many miles away. Even hospital consultants and senior clinicians have complained of being shut out of any involvement or insight into their own hospital’s plans.

The British Medical Association warned that 23 million people could be affected by A&E closures yet still the health secretary has given no formal statement of which plans will definitely go ahead.

Already millions of pounds have been taken from frontline NHS services to pay for the vast cohort of operations managers, communications executives, administrators and financial analysts whose jobs have been created to drive forward the STPs.

The Naylor Review published in March identified ‘surplus’ NHS land which Labour’s shadow health secretary recently described as a blanket sell-off of sites which are currently being used for patient care to pay for a long-running failure to fund the NHS properly.

At the election Labour said we would halt the STP process and make sure all local plans were being drawn up in the best interests of patients. The next Labour government will reverse privatisation of our NHS and return our health service into expert public control. Labour will repeal the Health and Social Care Act that puts profits before patients, and make the NHS the preferred provider.

It is clear that, at the moment, they are not. If the government were so confident that the public would support or even benefit from these radical changes they would allow them to participate in the process. And we would have heard the prime ,minister crowing about them during the election campaign.

Make no mistake, STPs are designed to deliver cuts and will open the door for further privatisation of the NHS. To respond to a funding crisis by reorganisation is highly risky, akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

The NHS is in an era of unprecedented financial pressure and is trying to manage on a budget that – although it has been broadly protected so far – is in fact unsustainable. There is no convincing evidence that this colossal experiment will even save money. Sure, these plans will transform the NHS, but almost certainly not for the better if the end result is having to travel 30 odd miles to the nearest A&E, stroke or maternity unit.

STPs will mean nothing but another £26bn taken away from vital health services unless the necessary capital is made available to deliver them.

There is nothing sustainable about running a health service into the ground and there is nothing transformational about starving the NHS of the cash it needs to survive and keep life-saving care services local and accessible.

http://www.fabians.org.uk/the-biggest-attack-on-the-nhs/

Grenfell

Grenfell

Just 30% of Grenfell Tower fire funds have reached victims. This is disappointing and amounts to a direct failure of the Government and Local Authority to help victims. It is important to have the inquiry in the cause and spread of the fire but it is equally important that we help victims now.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/aug/18/just-30-per-cent-of-grenfell-tower-fire-funds-have-reached-victims?

Selling off NHS land

Tories selling off NHS land

Selling off NHS assets on the cheap where they are needed is completely wrong.

This is my quote in the Hertfordshire Mercury (14 August)

Mohammad Yasin, Labour MP for Bedford and Kempston, said: “I’m not necessarily opposed to the disposal of property where it is unsuitable for modern medical use, but there will undoubtedly be plenty of valid clinical uses for much of the land up for sale.

“Locally we need acute mental health beds for example – where will these go if all NHS land is sold?

“Land isn’t genuinely surplus if there is an unmet need, and disposing of it in what amounts to a fire sale risks getting very poor value.

“This Government and the last are renowned for this – look at what they did with Royal Mail.

“If land in public ownership is being sold on the cheap to plug a hole in NHS finances, then that would be completely wrong – and it looks like this is exactly what is happening.”

Read more at http://www.hertfordshiremercury.co.uk/hertfordshire-nhs-properties-to-be-sold-despite-being-in-clinical-use/story-30481032-detail/story.html#VTR8qcpm5JW5viiz.99

huge rise in NHS assets for sale

Concern about huge rise in NHS assets for sale

Labour research shows a huge rise in NHS assets for sale – double the previous year’s figures. The government won’t publish details of half of these proposed sales.

During my election campaign I asked questions about what the Naylor report would mean for our local NHS land, and the answers coming back are still not clear.

As a party we’re not opposed to the disposal of assets where the land is unsuitable for modern medical use, but there will undoubtedly be plenty of valid clinical purposes for much of this land and property.

Locally we need acute mental health beds for example so where will these go if the land is sold? Disposing of it in what amounts to a ‘fire sale’ risks getting poor value, and is completely wrong.

 

 

East Midlands Trains Franchise

East Midlands Trains Franchise

Bedford & Kempston MP Mohammad Yasin and Mayor Dave Hodgson have joined forces today urge Transport Secretary, Chris Grayling, to come and speak to Bedford’s rail users. This follows the announcement that consultation events to discuss the East Midlands Trains Franchise will exclude Bedford.

Mohammad Yasin MP said,
“I wrote to the Secretary of State last month to ask him to extend the consultation and to ensure that the consultation gave Bedford’s commuters and rail users a chance to respond, but he has not responded. The proposed dates and locations for public consultation events show that the Government mean this process to be anything but fair, inclusive and transparent. If these changes go ahead as proposed, this will have a hugely negative impact on our commuter town. So I ask Chris Grayling now – will you come to my constituency and tell us why Bedford and Kempston should accept reduced rail services?’

Mayor Dave Hodgson said,
“Many local people have made major decisions in their lives based on our train services, such as moving home and changing jobs. The government’s plans will have a huge impact on them, and yet shamefully they’ve excluded Bedford from their consultation meetings. They may not want to know the views of Bedford Borough residents and businesses, but we need to make sure they hear them. We demand that they come to Bedford to answer questions and hear from local rail users, as they are doing elsewhere. Meanwhile, I urge everyone to send in your views and give a clear message to the government that these dreadful plans must not stand.”

A Public Meeting will be arranged for the Autumn with the MP, Mayor and campaigners in attendance.

Click here for the consultation document

East Midlands Rail Franchise Public Consultation

East Midlands Rail Franchise Public Consultation

(Letters’ Pages – Times & Citizen (3/08/17) and Beds on Sunday 6/08/17)

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling, believes that reducing train services stopping at Bedford will provide a ‘better commuting experience’ for passengers. Any Bedford commuter will tell you that this is nonsense. As your MP I will fight hard to ensure that there is no reduction in the frequency of trains stopping at our station.

A London travel card from Bedford to London costs over £6000 per year, and travelling North from Bedford to Leicester on a season ticket almost £5000 per annum. At these prices, real investment and better services is what Bedford commuters deserve, not cuts.

These proposals have potential to reduce employment prospects, affect housing prices and have an adverse impact on the well-being of those that commute long distances to work.

Consultation regarding the proposals will be ongoing until October, and I urge all concerned parties to respond, however I have written to the Transport Secretary raising my objections, requesting an extension to the consultation period so everyone’s voice can be heard, and a meeting to discuss ways to genuinely improve passenger experience.

Mohammad Yasin MP

Member of Parliament for Bedford & Kempston

Click here for the consultation document

Closure of Bedford Tribunal Court

PRESS RELEASE FROM MOHAMMAD YASIN MP ON THE FUTURE OF BEDFORD TRIBUNAL COURT 

Mohammad Yasin, MP for Bedford & Kempston, has written to the Secretary of State for Justice, Dominic Raab MP, demanding an explanation for the local authorities and community regarding the future of HM Courts & Tribunal Services across Bedford.

The news of the Bedford Tribunal service closure from this September has caused deep concerns about access to justice in the town, particularly for the most vulnerable in our community. This news comes a year after the government released their intention to close Bedford Magistrates’ Court and move civil and family work to the Bedford Tribunal service.

Mr Raab has responded saying that the Government’s lease on the Howard building, where Bedford Tribunal Court currently operates, is ending as the building is being redeveloped. The Tribunal Court will temporarily move into the aforementioned Bedford Magistrate’s Court in Shire Hall from September. The original plan was vice-versa; with Bedford Magistrate’s Court due to move into the Howard Building.

Mr.Yasin states: “The complete lack of foresight and planning that has resulted in this shambles is absolutely shocking. The Government’s long term plan for Bedford Magistrates Court is still uncertain. What is most worrying is the complete lack of communication from the Government with the local authorities in Bedford; none of us have been kept informed or consulted in any planning.”

“Tribunals can often be a complicated and stressful period for victims, therefore I find it highly irresponsible of the Government to show such little respect for my constituents through their failure to communicate with the local authorities or our community.”

Press release 26 July 2017

Mohammad Yasin MP Maiden Speech

Mohammad Yasin Labour, Bedford  Maiden Speech 2:33 pm, 13th July 2017

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech in this very important debate.

Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker, for allowing me to make my maiden speech in this very important debate.

It seems fitting to pay tribute to the Bedfordshire Regiment whose men also fought at Passchendaele. Many did not come back home. It is not lost on me that the sacrifices made by those men 100 years ago led to the freedoms, rights and opportunities that I am proudly expressing today. I am deeply honoured not only to have been chosen by the people of Bedford and Kempston to represent them as their Member of Parliament, but to be the first ethnic minority candidate to do so.

I made the journey from Kashmir to Bedford in 1992. Soon I was married and working in a factory. Later I became a taxi driver, which I continued to do until my election to Parliament. I can honestly say that from the moment I arrived in Bedford, I made it my home—but ever since, it is Bedford that has made me. I am very thankful for that.

I wanted to do more for the community that had welcomed me, so I became a councillor for Queens Park ward in 2006. Earlier this year, I took the next step and was selected by my party to stand as Labour’s candidate. Many people said that I stood no chance and that Labour could not possibly win Bedford back. Bedford and Kempston proved them wrong. With the support of my friends and fellow councillors, and my wonderful family—I am so thankful to my wife, Shakila, my mother, my four children and my new grandson, Imad—we fought a campaign that delivered Bedford and Kempston back to Labour. I am immensely proud to be on the Labour Benches, whose shadow Cabinet has the highest number of ethnic minority MPs ever, which means that the population is more fairly represented than it has ever been before.

I pay tribute to my predecessor, Richard Fuller, who has worked so hard over the past seven years for his community. The Bedford Community Business School set up by Richard has been a great success and is a legacy that he is rightly very proud of. I also thank Bedford’s previous Labour MP, Patrick Hall, for his 13 years of dedicated service.

People from more than 50 countries of origin live and have settled in Bedford and Kempston, which has made the area the most ethnically diverse town in the United Kingdom in proportion to its size. All kinds of people have settled there, from the eastern Europeans and Italians who arrived after the second world war to help rebuild Britain through work in the Stewartby brickworks, to others like me who arrived more recently. It is that which makes my constituency so very special.

Bedford is warm, welcoming, neighbourly and compassionate. Difference and diversity of faith, colour and creed is not only tolerated but celebrated in this town. Churches, mosques, gurdwaras, faith groups and charitable organisations throughout my constituency work together to build upon that diversity and to support those who have been affected by so many years of austerity and damaging cuts.

Bedford has a strong arts scene. Our cultural heritage is celebrated in Bedford’s many festivals, not least the biennial River festival that attracts quarter of a million people to the beautiful riverside. We are also a town of sportspeople, with the Bedford Blues, the Eagles, and the Queens Park and Kempston cricket clubs. We have rowing clubs, sailing clubs and our international athletics track. We have been proud to produce gold Olympians and Paralympians, and then there is Iva Barr, who was still running the London marathon at the age of 88. Bedfordians are amazing people.

People talked to me a lot during the election, about their concerns about schooling, the cuts to policing and, above all, the NHS. At the very heart of our town is Bedford Hospital, where my children and grandson were born. I want to make sure that the hospital stays at the heart of my constituency. Two years ago, Bedford Hospital saved my wife’s life when she suffered a heart attack. I can never repay the staff for all they did for us.

Let me say this now: the future of our hospital and its services have been in doubt for far too long. Since 2011, under this Government and the previous one, a string of expensive and inconclusive reviews have cast a shadow over the hospital, lining the pockets of management consultants while hard-working frontline staff have gone without pay rises. Threats to maternity, accident and emergency, and paediatrics make it hard to recruit and retain staff, and have caused much concern to the community.

As the MP for Bedford and Kempston, I will fight every day to keep the services that we need in our growing town so that my constituents do not have to travel 15 or 20 miles to access life-saving services, or 60 miles to access justice if plans to close Bedford courts go ahead.

I want babies to continue to be born in Bedford and Kempston, where they can grow up in a fairer society, access equal opportunities and realise their true potential in families that feel proud and part of their community.

Press Release: the future of Bedford Hospital

NEWS FROM MOHAMMAD YASIN MP: MP demands government assurances on the future of Bedford Hospital

Mohammad Yasin MP, Labour’s newly elected Member of Parliament for Bedford & Kempston has demanded assurances from the Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, that the Tory Government will not seek to close key services at Bedford Hospital.

Mohammad Yasin has written to Jeremy Hunt calling for assurances that A&E, Obstetric, and Paediatric services are retained at Bedford Hospital and not moved to Luton or Milton Keynes. This is in response to emerging plans from the Bedfordshire, Luton, and Milton Keynes’s NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

At the recent General Election Labour pledged to halt the STPs, which threaten to close and downgrade local health services as in Bedford.

Mohammad Yasin MP said:

“I have written to Jeremy Hunt demanding assurances about the future of Bedford Hospital. Like other Bedford residents I fear that as part of NHS review plans for our area we could lose key health services in Bedford that local people rely on.

“Our area has a growing population, with a real need for comprehensive and easily accessible medical care. Losing our A&E department could prove a real danger, meaning far longer travel times for those in urgent need of care, which ultimately puts lives at risk.

“I intend to honour my promise to local residents and fight tooth and nail to keep these vital health services, which are under threat by this Tory Government.

“Jeremy Hunt must address these concerns and provide reassurances for people across Bedfordshire urgently.”