Europe's Health for Sale: the heavy cost of privatisation
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25 Years of Health Emergency
Now available on DVD
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Mental health melt downThere can be no clearer illustration of the abject failure of the Tory-led coalition's competitive market in health care than the disaster facing mental health services ...
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First do no harm ...
Second International Conference on Health Journalism
14-16 May, Coventry
Health journalism conference backs campaign to combat growing threatDelegates at First Do No Harm, an international conference in health journalism and PR held in Coventry last week, left with a determination to work towards better standards, training and networks for this vital specialist area – and a promise from the organisers.
As speakers from 4 continents charted the state of health journalism across the globe, looking at subjects as diverse as cancer reporting and PR ethics for health organisations, there was a discernible air of determination to take things forward. This reached one of the conference's aims with one stroke: to serve as the foundation for a wider campaign to protect, promote and develop health reporting and PR.
"We absolutely did not want this to be yet another academic conference, with prestigious academics emerging from their studies to tell other academics how important this all is – and being ignored by journalists", said Dr John Lister, one of the conference organisers and himself a world authority on the politics of health policy.
"We were determined to make this work for working journalists and PRs as well as stand on its academic research, which was in itself impressive, so we deliberately invited working journalists and PRs to speak and hear about the realities of what is threatening this area of journalism.
"This situation is genuinely alarming: we could be looking at a perfect storm for health journalism and healthcare, with pressures on journalists to cut corners and 'cover' health with little or no training, pressures on hospitals to cut services year on year, and pressures on health PRs to spin the truth and hide any embarrassment."
This was echoed by co-organiser Alan Taman, himself a former NHS PR who is researching the state of PR in the NHS:
"PR in the NHS stands at a crossroads: will its political masters give it the means to be 'open' and 'transparent', or will the current culture of blame and obfuscation continue?
"It's the PR who has to live with that legacy – and forthcoming changes in the law could mean it's their neck on the line if the organisation misleads the public. There has never been a more important time to air this debate, and conferences like this which set out with a determination to yield ongoing practical solutions for the professionals are a very good start."
Alan was so convinced of the need to keep things moving that he promised all the delegates at the close of the conference that he would ensure all the speeches and debates were available within a month: "Yep, that was brave of me!
But if we don't put in the effort to make this work as the dedicated people who came to conference want it to, who will? The greatest ally of the growing threat to health journalism – and health services – is the easy complacency of conscientious silence. Good intent is not enough. We need more."
The full conference report will be made available on the European Health Journalism website over the coming 4 weeks. Important selections before then will be on Twitter: @Healthjournos
Email us at: Healthjournos@gmail.com
We will be publishing presentations and interviews from the conference in the next few weeks, and opening up an online blog for those wanting to join our new network and help support journalists trying to improve their coverage of health.
See this Powerpoint presentation: Why Health Journalism Matters - the opening presentation at the conference by John Lister, Coventry University.
A Unique InquiryThe People's Inquiry into London's NHS completed its information-gathering stage in Lewisham Hospital on December 6, having held seven public hearings in different parts of London, and received evidence from around 100 people. This is a unique and significant body of information on the capital's health services.
The 6-person Panel is now considering its report and recommendations, and planning ways of opening up debate and discussion on those recommendations to make them part of the process of policy development in the run-up to the next General Election.
We began from the recognition that London's NHS faces exceptional problems: very large targets for cost savings; a series of proposals for far-reaching reconfiguration and cutbacks in hospital services - with question marks over their viability; stretched mental health and social care services; struggling PFI hospitals; specialist services facing price competition and now commissioned centrally by NHS England, and many other issues.
London shares some problems with other parts of the country: the fragmentation, instability and uncertainty created by the Health & Social Care Act; the abolition of the strategic health authorities which had the overview of services, and the consequent loss of any strategic planning; the lack of transparency and public accountability of decision making; and the rising bureaucratic costs and complexity of a new health market that compels Clinical Commissioning Groups to put ever more services out to tender.
So what are the implications and future prospects for patients, staff and the wider public? The People's Inquiry was set up last autumn by Unite the union, with a distinguished, independent-minded panel, to gather the facts, take the pulse, and suggest ways forward. We will be publishing more details of our hearings - edited transcripts, documents and written evidence submitted to the Inquiry - as they are made ready in the next few weeks, with the full report and the panel's recommendations to be published in early March.
This website will keep you updated. Meanwhile we still welcome information and comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For further information, see the People's Inquiry website
Landmark report publishedA landmark report on London's NHS has been published which highlights a cash strapped and fragmented health service – and proposes an 18-point plan to save the capital's NHS.
New book dissects global health reformsJohn Lister’s book Health Policy Reform: Driving the Wrong Way, published in 2005, was hailed as "the definitive critique of market-oriented health care 'reforms' that the World Bank has been promoting at least since 1993".
This latest work, Health Policy Reform: Global Health versus Private Profit is a completely revised and restructured analysis of health policy in which John Lister brings his critique of health policy up-to-date. He continues to question whether the major 'reforms' which have been, and are still being, introduced are driven primarily by the health needs of the wider population or, in fact, by nonhealth considerations - the financial and political concerns of governments and global institutions.
Book launch successHealth Policy Reform: Global Health versus Private Profit was formally launched on 6 June at a reception laid on at the NUJ's London head office. A presentation by John Lister, describing the scope of the book and his reasons for writing it, met with enthusiastic approval from an audience of experts, campaigners and friends.
See a video of the presentation
Interactive Hospital Millions game
As featured in the latest HE issue 72 (see item below)
Play Hospital Millions on your computer, with up to four players.
Experience the thrill of making a vast fortune at the expense of the elderly, sick and needy - or the exhiliration of trading while outrageously bankrupt, bailed out by government handouts!
This game is still being developed, but we hope you will enjoy playing it. Make sure the sound is switched on. If you have any constructive comments please contact us.
Click here to play the game
New issue of Health EmergencyThe latest issue of Health Emergency's campaigning tabloid is packed full of facts and articles including
Additional copyable artwork for the banknotes and contract tokens can be downloaded from here
Health journalism resourcesto assist health journalists, working journalists, journalism students, editors and publishers.
Top up your specialist skills and knowledge!
Training materials on a wide range of health reporting issues, available free online: simply register to access all content
Download a leaflet here, explaining the EU-funded project that developed the resources.
Please also tell us what you think of the material and any other issues you would like to see covered.
If you want to link up with other health journalists in Europe and beyond, check out www.europeanhealthjournalism.com
or contact John Lister for details.
URGENT: Watch these videosDVD now available: details here
Click here to view online
Wake-Up Call - Episode 1
(Running time 20 minutes)
Dr John Lister provides a witty insight into the true intent of the government's plans to reform the health service - a privatised, unaccountable NHS.
Peppered with jokes and cartoons from the likes of Steve Bell, the film is an easily understood explanation of how the NHS, as we now know it, will be demolished, if these plans succeed.
With the danger of the reforms slipping through in a fog of jargon and marketing spin, John Lister talks us through why they will be disastrous for NHS patients and staff.
Produced for Keep Our NHS Public and for Health Emergency.
see also ...
Wake-Up Call Episode 2 - A Betrayal of Trust
Sugar Coating the Bitter Bill
Click here to view online
What are many local GPs really thinking about Andrew Lansley's Health and Social Care Bill?
Louise Irvine is a GP in the deprived area of Deptford's New Cross. She believes that trusted local GPs are being used to sugar coat a radical denationalisation of the NHS.
Dr Irvine explains, with compassion, how this bitterly unacceptable bill will harm patient care and break up 'the NHS family'.
If you want to know just why so many people in the NHS are in opposition to Lansley’s Bill, then take 15 minutes to watch this video.
A film by Anne-Marie Sweeney produced for Keep Our NHS Public and Health Emergency.
third in the trilogy ...
Wake-Up Call Episode 3 - The Return of Fear
Click here to view online
Giving reasons to be fearful, the film graphically shows how Lansley's proposals, despite amendments, will vandalise the NHS and lead to "A Return of Fear" - a fear removed by Aneurin Bevan when the NHS was founded.
Acclaimed thinker on health policy Professor Allyson Pollock joins with other leading health campaigners to show why we must rage now against these coalition plans, to avoid despair later.
The film shows the deadly parallels with other privatisations, especially the privatisation of elderly care.
It celebrates the exuberant resistance from the real "big society" as it unites to prevent assault from market forces on our vulnerable and sick.
The Return of Fear is essential viewing, the core values of the NHS, markers of a civilised society, face a shocking attack.
A film by Anne-Marie Sweeney produced for Keep Our NHS Public and Health Emergency.
Wake Up Call DVDNow available - all three films on DVD
"This film should be seen by all who care about their NHS." - Allyson Pollock (Professor of Health Policy and Author of NHS PLC)
Show this DVD at meetings!
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Special FINANCIAL Appeal
Help us campaign to save our NHS!
The NHS faces its biggest-ever threat: a 'double whammy' of massive cuts year by year to 2014, coupled with the Health and Social Care Bill that could wipe out all public sector provision of health services.
The ConDem government has no mandate to transform the National Health Service into a national health market. But if there is no public challenge, the Bill could be forced quickly through Parliament.
Hospital staff have everything to lose and nothing to gain from the proposals which could see tens of thousands of jobs axed, and hundreds of thousands pushed out of the NHS workforce, with new threats to their pay scales and pensions.
Every cutback that is accepted will just encourage desperate employers to come back for more.
It really is do or die for those of us who want to defend the NHS as a public service, and who value the staff who deliver services.
To build a successful campaign requires resources, publicity, time and effort: and until there is a broad popular campaign established with the support of the main health unions, much of the work will fall to organisations like London Health Emergency.
But right now, we don't have the resources to cope.
We need help to keep the issue in the media, and work with local campaigners to get the message across in meetings, protests and local publicity. Just producing and distributing the latest issue of Health Emergency newspaper (out early September) will cost £2000.
We urge any readers or supporting organisations that can do so to make a donation, as large as you can afford, to ensure we have the resources to keep on fighting to scupper Lansley's Bill, keep our NHS intact - and keep it public.
Pressure group in defence of the NHSFounded in the autumn of 1983, London Health Emergency is the country's biggest and longest-running pressure group in defence of the NHS.
With over 150 trade union bodies, campaigns and community organisations affiliated at local, regional and national level, and many more subscribers, LHE issues a tabloid newspaper Health Emergency which has a print run of 7,000 and a distribution reaching many parts of England, Scotland and Wales. Health Emergency carries news and comment on the full range of health service policy issues, with a special focus on acute hospital services, mental health services, care of the elderly, and the impact of the government's marketising reforms.
LHE continues to act as a vocal defender of health services in London and across the country. Our Breaking News service carries updates and flags up issues of concern to journalists as well as health activists.
Read more about LHE
ClarificationLondon Health Emergency was set up by the GLC in 1983, but has received no funding from local government since 1998. It is not linked with any political party or group.
To continue to resource our campaign work we need affiliations and donations from individuals and organisations who support our policies in fighting privatisation and market reforms in the NHS.
Click here to affiliate to LHE or to subscribe to Health Emergency
Keep Our NHS Public
A campaign involving consultants, academics, MPs, trade unions, pensioners groups and campaigners was launched in autumn 2005 to challenge the government's accelerating drive towards privatisation of the NHS.
London Health Emergency, alongside the NHS Support Federation, was actively involved in the launch of this campaign which has endorsement from prominent individuals and trade union organisations and is gathering momentum daily.
For more details, and to register your support online, check out the campaign's website www.keepournhspublic.com
Exciting new board game: Hospital Millions
Click here for details
Articles from John Lister's regular column in the Morning Star, plus other articles for publication
Latest: Labour must promise to break cash stranglehold on the NHS
Read this, and previous articles, in Campaigner's Diary
Latest: Canada reinvents failed British health policies and adds new disastrous trade treaty
Read this, and other articles, in World Health News
What Thatcher meant to the NHS
Read the book here
Current and back issues of Health Emergency
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