ON MONDAY, the BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting took a giant step forward when, after a struggle over the issue of STPs, it passed a motion moved on behalf of the London Region by Anna Athow for this Tory tool for smashing the NHS to ‘be abandoned’.
There was in fact a struggle at the ARM, as there has been throughout the BMA, over the onslaught on the NHS. Motion 41 proposed the BMA leadership’s line that doctors should be more involved in working with STPs. The mover deplored the fact that so many doctors had not heard of STPs, let alone been included in their deliberations. The mover ended: ‘STPs will not work unless owned by everybody.’
Dr Kevin O’ Kane responded that STPs were the vehicles for £22bn of cuts, and that doctors should not get involved. He said we are being asked to take part in ‘critical engagement’ to help ease in private providers. Motion 41 was however passed.
Anna Athow then moved Agenda Committee Motion 42. ‘That this meeting condemns the woeful manner in which STPs have been progressed, turning them into vehicles to try to legitimise further cuts to vital NHS services, and proposes STPs are abandoned.’
Speaking for the London Regional Council she said, ‘The NHS in England has been carved up into 44 administrative areas, with leaders selected by NHS England, and given devolved powers by it, to force through reconfigurations, massive cuts, and changes to workforce contracts … in order to privatise NHS provision by 2020 … in line with Simon Stevens’ Five Year Forward View.’
She spelt out that, ‘This outrageous “fait accompli” aims to end the NHS as a NATIONAL health service, equably and publicly providing care to all, according to need.’ Athow added: ‘These 44 STP, Sustainability and Transformation Partnership boards, contain representatives of CCGs, providers for both NHS and private, local authorities and NHS England.
‘They must make £22bn more cuts by 2020 and comply with impossible “financial control totals”.’
She continued, ‘They must close more beds, and reduce admissions … ration more operations and treatments … axe specialties from DGHs to consolidate them in a few central hospitals … They must prosecute “Redesign” to destroy more DGHs, by closing their type-one A&Es, with another 24 A&Es to go.’
She added that ‘The STPs will cut staff, and reduce the pay bill,’ and ‘Organise a giant fire sale of NHS land and assets, as demanded in the Naylor report. All this cash squeezed out of frontline NHS care – to achieve what? The promised land of Transformation.’
She continued: ‘These STP boards must evolve into US -Style Accountable Care Organisations, providing so-called “integrated care” for huge registered populations – running the hospital chains, the mega out-of-hospital hubs, MCPs, treatment centres and care homes – at a profit on NHS contracts.’
She concluded that ‘STP boards are NHS England’s 44 new weapons, to cut and privatise the NHS in England by 2020 … We don’t want American-style healthcare in England. No critical engagement! The BMA must fight for STPs boards to be abandoned.’
Only one speaker spoke against, while BMA Council leader Porter observed that the Labour Party did not pledge to abandon STPs merely to review them. Despite this intervention, after Athow replied to the discussion, the London Region motion was overwhelmingly carried!
The work of this ARM must now be carried forward with a national campaign to abandon the STPs and to defend the NHS by driving them out of it. The BMA leadership must be made to take up the struggle to implement this resolution.
The BMA’s regional and national bodies must approach all of the UK’s trade unions and the TUC and demand that they take industrial action to defend the NHS and prevent its dismemberment and privatisation.
This will mean continuing the struggle that the junior doctors began by calling a general strike to bring down the bankrupt Tories and bring in a workers government that will restore the NHS and end the privatisation drive by nationalising the drug companies and the banks and the major industries to bring in socialism.