‘NO MORE GAMES WITH NHS’ – says BMA as RCM members vote for industrial action

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Bengali families marching to defend Bangladesh Parent Adviser service (BPA)
Bengali families marching to defend Bangladesh Parent Adviser service (BPA)

MIDWIVES and doctors unions have responded to Labour leader Miliband’s pledge to find ways to increase NHS funding.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair said: ‘The test of any health policy should be whether it benefits patients, yet 95 per cent of doctors do not believe the quality of patient care has improved under the Health and Social Care Act 2012.

‘Proposals to remove the most damaging elements of the Health and Social Care Act 2012, to support more joined up care and to prevent the private sector from cherry picking the most profitable services are a step in the right direction.

‘The BMA wants a publically provided and funded health service, and believes the NHS should always be the preferred provider.

‘A commitment of more GPs is vital to meet rising demand on services, especially as more care is being delivered in the community.

‘However, with general practice facing a recruitment and retention crisis we must first address the challenge of getting more doctors to choose to become GPs.

‘While extra funding is desperately needed, this announcement falls far short of explaining how the NHS will plug the £30bn gap it faces by 2020.

‘There must be no more games with the NHS. Rather than political parties bidding against each other for sticking plaster solutions which don’t go far enough, what is needed is a serious, detailed look at the investment health and social care services will need to cope with rising demand from an ageing population, and a long-term, fully funded plan to deliver this.

‘This is the only way to ensure the NHS can rise to the enormous challenges facing it.’

RCM midwives union director for policy, Jon Skewes, said: ‘We welcome the vital extra money for the NHS that Labour is pledging to provide.

‘The RCM is very pleased to see the clear and specific commitment to 3,000 more NHS midwives.

‘So long as the number of births does not start to rise again, these extra midwives could potentially eliminate England’s longstanding midwifery shortage. That would be a big achievement, and we hope that all parties will match this pledge.’

Midwives in northern Ireland are balloting for strike action over pay. Skewes said: ‘We have been consulting with members employed in the Health and Social Care (HSC) in northern Ireland about whether you are prepared to take industrial action over pay.

‘The consultation closed on 18th March, the result was:

‘Question One: Are you prepared to take strike action?

Yes – 88.8%

No – 11.2%

‘Question Two: Are you prepared to take action short of a strike?

Yes – 94.8%

No – 5.2%

Turnout – 48.2%

‘The RCM Board met on 18th March and made the decision to ballot members working in the HSC in northern Ireland for industrial action. The RCM Board are recommending that you vote yes to take industrial action.

‘The RCM did not take the decision lightly but we believe that we need to stand together and say enough is enough. We have been campaigning for fair pay in the HSC in northern Ireland but so far without adequate response.

‘We believe that if midwives and maternity support workers use your vote and vote yes to take industrial action in this ballot we can send a very clear message.

‘We are campaigning for a negotiated settlement that is at least as good as the settlement achieved in England, Wales and Scotland e.g. an above inflation pay rise for 2015/16 and a commitment to the NHS Pay Review Body to determine future pay uplifts in the HSC in northern Ireland.

‘We believe that HSC staff have to be valued and fairly rewarded for the work they do. Staff who are demoralised cannot deliver the quality of care that HSC users, including mothers and babies, deserve. Investment in staff is an investment in better care.’

The ballot will start on Monday 30th March and close midday on Monday 20th April.

• Last week parents marched through Bow in east London demanding that their vital Bangladeshi Parent Adviser Service (BPA) was not shut down.

The service provides advice and support to parents whose children are disabled, or have life limiting illnesses.

The campaigners who are determined to save their essential BPA service have written to the Deputy General manager of Barts Health NHS Trust, Wheeler Fiona.

They wrote: ‘Hi Fiona,

‘This email is sent to let you know that parents/carers of the Bangladeshi Parent Adviser Service will be coming to see you on Monday 30th March 2015 at 3pm.

‘Please make sure you or your senior – someone on behalf – of you stays in the office.

‘Parents want to know answers to their unanswered questions, which you had promised to sit and answer at the board meeting on the 02/07/14.

‘You clearly said that until we don’t sit and have another meeting you will not implement any changes. Referring back to the board meeting you deliberately diverted us to the Mayor so that time can be wasted.

‘Unknowingly we submitted our petition with 300 signatures by hand on the 08/05/2014 which was before the consultation closing date 09/05/2014. We have and we are still opposing the decision you and your colleagues have made.

‘This is not valid, as a proper consultation was not done with the service users, an impact assessment was not done on the service users, an in depth review was not done. Do not implement any changes, as you have to keep your words. Parents are severely affected by your ego to change the service.

‘Robert McCulloch-Graham, Corporate Director for Education, Social Care and Wellbeing said on Monday 23rd March 2015 that the Mayor has nothing to do with the cuts, it’s an NHS decision and the Mayor cannot or has no right to change this.

‘If that was the case then you being the Associate Director Service Delivery ECAM – Community Services how and why did you tell us to go to the Mayor?

‘What is the actual reason? Is it because the service is solely provided to the Bangladeshi community?

‘Robert also said at Monday’s meeting: “The NHS can’t afford to continue to support the Bangladeshi parent adviser service!”

‘The NHS can afford to spend millions on buildings which doesn’t clinically make changes to peoples lives, but refuses to fund our 30-years plus service which clinically makes changes to peoples lives.

‘NHS debts can’t be paid off by demolishing our invaluable service.

‘We will request our complaint is heard by the independent review panel and to look at the decision made jointly by the NHS and Tower Hamlets, if needed we will complain to the Health Service Ombudsman and even in the High Court (Judicial Review) no matter how much it will cost us!

‘Discrimination to disabled will not be tolerated. We want answers so please make sure you are ready to answer our questions!

‘Kinds Regards

‘Aysha Begum

‘On behalf of parents and carers in Tower Hamlets (BPA Service users).’

There will be another demonstration today to save the BPA service. The march will assemble at Queen Mary University, Mile End Road, E1, at 2.30pm. The march will set off at 3pm and will be marching to Mile End Hospital.