After a 5,000 strong petition demanding the council rejects the changes to the NHS in Cornwall and that a referendum take place on the issue was essentially chucked out today in Cornwall Council’s general meeting.
Fourteen hospitals in the county are going to be turned into businesses (‘Community Interest Companies’) instead of remaining within the national framework. If this doesn’t equate to the partial privatisation of the NHS I’m not quite sure what does. 2,400 staff will be handed over to these private bodies – which could limit collective bargaining rights and will certainly affect pay and conditions.
It’s unclear how much thought has gone into the decision to act as lackies for the Con-Dem government. The impact assessment, which can be found on the council website (hidden away, of course), demands the expected benefits of the changes be outlined. The council’s response is
“Transformed delivery of community health care in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly”
Transformed how? Surely this is much too vague considering the scale of the changes? An ambiguous one line statement doesn’t equate to a full impact assessment, or at least it shouldn’t.
Moreover, the list of groups consulted about the changes is near farcical. Not one union is officially listed in the impact assessment, though apparently some unions were consulted at a different point and acquiesced against the policies of national leadership, instead of opposing the changes outright. The groups consulted include ‘Perfect Moment‘ an apparently charitable group but whose site immediately declares it’s aim is ‘Business & Project Development’ and ‘TR14ers Community Dance Team‘. A dance team? Consulted about drastic changes to health care affecting thousands of people? First as tragedy, then as farce…
Jude Robinson (the Labour councillor) and some Independents and Lib Dems opposed the moves. But perhaps there can be future challenges to the changes – legal, protest-based or union-coordinated.
There’ll be a lot more opposition to the NHS ‘reforms’ to come in Cornwall. A Save our NHS group has been formed and Cornwall Anti-Cuts Alliance will be actively campaigning about the £20bn NHS cuts.
Meanwhile, there could be some positive news on the horizon. Apparently 12-22 councillors are thinking of ousting Tory leader Alec Robertson as head of CCC, in favour of Truro Trehaverne (my ward, incidentally) councillor Fiona Ferguson. She’s still right-wing, but if Robertson were to be ousted it would destabilise the council’s Tory/Independent coalition.