Aside Posted on


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photograph credit Richard Banker https://www.facebook.com/SOSNHSDerbyPage/

Some Background information

The Team from from  Joined Up Care Derbyshire (STP) invited a  group of NHS Managers –

  • Dr Chris Clayton, Chief Executive Officer Derbyshire Clinical Commissioning Groups
  • Gavin Boyle, Chief Executive at Derby Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust
  • Andy Smith, Director for Peoples Services at Derby City Council

members of SOSNHS Derby – the local group campaigning against NHS budget cuts and privatisation – and other members of the public  to take part in a consultation meeting on Friday 9th February at St Peter’s Church.

This report of the meeting (below ) was written by Richard Banker, one of the members of the public taking part.


“The NHS Management team in Derbyshire – responsible locally for carrying out the Government’s cuts and privatisation agenda which will close 535 hospital beds in Derbyshire through a £280 million cut – organised a consultation meeting on “What is happening to the NHS in Derbyshire” on Friday February 9.

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The meeting decisively broke with the process of  polite, measured discussion of “areas of concern”, and became a head on clash between the Managers and the public. It was attended, during a work day early afternoon,  by more than 70 people, who were determined to make their voices heard in opposition to all cuts and privatisation. There were a series of pre- arranged questions concerning the process of implementing the cuts, and an agenda item “Working Together In Future” but these were quickly abandoned as the meeting became a huge free flowing “Q and A” over the state of the NHS.


The general argument from the Managers was that,  “Money has not kept up with demand” and that “ We are the professionals who put resources at the right place, at the right time” and who ” seek efficiencies”. They declared,  “We all share the same passions about the NHS,” and that we should “All work together.” Their unconvincing line in Management-Speak jarred with people’s real life experiences, having to struggle with our “fraying at the edges” NHS. When they insisted their job was to follow the direction of the Government in terms of the budget cuts, members of the public would not let them off the hook. The  people attending the meeting clearly did not believe that the Managers were planning to protect the NHS… and did not want to “work together” in cutting and privatising it.


A member of SOSNHS Derby – the local campaign group – led off with an excellent forensic examination of the fallacy of the cuts. Then, sparks flew  – with vividly expressed personal stories giving living colour to the Managers’ pale bureaucratic blueprint. We heard heart-rending stories of how people couldn’t have a shower because they couldn’t afford to pay for care support. How people couldn’t get help for those who were incontinent.  About patients unable to have hospital beds, and left on trolleys in corridors, being looked after by already overstretched staff. One woman spoke of the nonsense of disassembling the rehabilitation unit in Babington Hospital to be scattered amongst badly paid, badly treated privatised care workers. The meeting heard how NHS staff are run ragged by yet another reorganisation, par for the course in the public sector. About the soaring costs of PFI contracts. About private contractors gobbling up NHS services,  charging the NHS the earth and draining off profits to the shareholders.


All this seemed to pass the NHS managers by. But, late into the meeting, they were forced to admit that planned operations had been cancelled as the cumulative pressures on the NHS had built to a crescendo. Some of them said that they were against further privatisation of the NHS, but gave no indication as to how they would stop or even oppose it. 

Right at the end Dr Sally Ruan, leading clinician, Associate Professor in Social Policy and Director of the Health Policy Research Unit at De Montfort University   further inspired the public to defend the NHS. The Managers did not stay to hear her as they had “important meetings to attend” Dr Ruane drew special applause in saying that constant changes are wearing staff down, and that the NHS is part of the economy… and while the economy grows, so can the NHS. She talked about how the proportion of spending on the NHS has been cut systematically for the last 7 years, starving the NHS of funds to breaking point.She talked about the foolish aspiration to cut 535 beds from Derbyshire, and reminded us that the UK has one of the poorest bed:patient ratios in the developed world. She quoted the experience of Leicester when pressure against losing 243 beds morphed into a need for more beds, not less. The notion of “top heavy beds ” is fundamentally flawed, and the view of medical practitioners and think tanks is that you can’t close beds while the need for them rises. While integration across health and social care services can have advantages in themselves , there is the real danger of quality care being reduced, as BOTH hospital care and home base social care are cut

The NHS Managers heard none of this, due to them having more important things to do, but after the very determined response of the people against the cuts and privatisation, they may be less keen to try to incorporate them in the process in future.

We left the meeting  with a sense of public duty, “job well done”, in standing up for the NHS.”

Richard Banker