Thursday, 20 December 2012

Brnet Brent Fightback meeting Wednesday January 9th 7.30 pm

The next meeting of Brent Fightback will be on Wednesday January 9th 7.30 pm at Brent Trades Hall (it says London Apollo Club over the door) 375 High Rd, Willesden NW10 2JR.

The New Year will begin with a renewed assault on our public services which needs a renewed and vigorous resistance. Among the subjects to discuss and plan action over will be:
  • The continuing campaign against NHS cuts and the privatisation of our health services. 
  • The housing crisis and the effects of benefit caps, bedroom tax etc
  • Cuts to the Council's budget and the effect on jobs and services
  • Gove's attacks on teachers' pay and privatisation via academies and free schools
  • AOB
NHS: NHS NW London is due to give their response to the Shaping a Healthier Future "consultation" on February 19th. A meeting on December 6th of 80+ NHS campaigners from right across London named February 16th as a London day of action against NHS cuts especially the closures of A & E and maternity departments. Campaigns have been invited to send representatives to a meeting of London Keep Our NHS Public on Wednesday January 9th at Camden Town Hall 7.30 pm to firm up these plans and make a final decision between an All London Demo or coordinated local demos.

The Brent 38 degrees group which is working on trying to prevent further commissioning of services from the private sector by Brent CCG (Clinical Commissioning Group) meets at 3 pm at the Priory in Belsize Rd on Saturday January 5th and hopes to meet with the CCG at their next meeting which is also on January 9th!

For background information about the state of the NHS it's worth reading these articles:
This Guardian video  and there are links to several other very pertinent Guardian articles
When A & E departments close, hospitals also lose their maternity services and many other services too. this article from the Mail illustrates the crisis in maternity care which can only worsen if more services are closed: 

Housing Crisis: The proposed benefit cap, the "bedroom tax" which cuts housing benefit for people with spare rooms and the cut in government funding to Councils for council tax benefit which means that almost everyone, however low their income, will be expected to pay some council tax, are set to cause a housing crisis on an unprecedented scale. Already, families are losing their homes. Brent Council plans to move people to Hertfordshire and beyond, people with box rooms deemed to small to be used as bedrooms are still being charged the bedroom tax. At the last Fightabck meeting, it was proposed to hold a People's Assembly on Housing in February at the Harlesden Methodist Church and to invite participation &/or sponsorship from groups like Cricklewood Homeless Concern, Private Tenants' Rights Group, N18, Shelter, The Councihan Family Campaign, Brent Law Centre and Housing Emergency which includes the Defend Council Housing Campaign. Leao Neto, the minister from the Methodist Church is interested and says it might even be possible to make this a joint event. The local papers are interested.

Councils cuts: The Council's budget setting meeting is in February. Eric Pickles has just announced further cuts to Council funding. Mohammed Butt spent time recently helping out at a foodbank, but what will Brent Council do to join with the people it is supposed to represent to prevent them being ConDem-ed to further misery in the New Year?

Education: The Slithy Michael Gove, having urged headteachers to dock pay from teachers taking part in the current work to rule, has now announced that he is going to do away with the national pay framework and allow schools to pay teachers whatever they like. He's thrown down the gauntlet, but shamefully, the NUT Executive has failed to pick it up. Meanwhile, OFSTED is doing the Government's dirty work by judging popular schools with happy children to be "in need of improvement" thus preparing them for takeover by their mates in the Academy chains. He's also making it easier for Free Schools to get buildings to set up in, whether they are suitable or not. (This item on education represents my personal rant, and is not necessarily the opinion of Brent Fightback - Sarah)

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Tell our Councillors to stop doing the ConDems' dirty work

Some Brent Fightback supporters will be outside Brent Town Hall tomorrow, Monday 19th November from 6.30 pm. There is a full Council meeting starting at 7.00 pm and we want to let our councillors know that we  want them to stop doing the ConDem government's dirty work, attacking the citizens of Brent, cutting and privatising our services. It's high time they defied the government and put forward a Needs Budget - a budget that gives details of the services we really need and what they would cost and join with the Council workers and the people of Brent to provide and defend those services.  

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Can you ever believe NHS bosses?

This press release guaranteeing the future of Central Middlesex Hospital, was issued in April 2010! You'll see that A & E attendances at CMH weere very nearly as high as those at the much bigger Northwick Park Hospital and had been rising steadily year on year.

A Bright Future for Central Middlesex Hospital

Purpose of this document
We are circulating this document to set out the important role that Central Middlesex Hospital will have as a local hospital. 
There has been some negative publicity recently about the long term future of this well loved local hospital, which has understandably worried local people and patients. We think it is important that we put the record straight.
What are the facts?
Central Middlesex Hospital and its sister hospital Northwick Park Hospital are both part of The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust.  Northwick Park is the larger of the two sites and.provides more specialist services, serving residents from a wide part of North West London and across London.  It is much larger than Central Middlesex as the table below shows:
Table 1         Comparison of Northwick Park and Central Middlesex hospitals (using 2008/09 data)

Northwick Park
Central Middlesex
A&E attendances

Over the past few years the Trust has changed the way some services are organised across the two hospitals.  Generally speaking more specialist services have moved to Northwick Park and more routine work like waiting list surgery has gone to Central Middlesex
For example, more planned operations are now performed at Central Middlesex but, on the other hand, Northwick Park now treats patients requiring emergency surgery in Brent and Harrow who would previously have gone to Central Middlesex
This approach reflects guidance from Healthcare for London, the programme set up to transform healthcare and improve standards of health in the capital.  This established the principle that healthcare should be localised where possible but centralised where larger scale services where necessary to improve safety and quality.  For example establishing specialist stroke centres at major hospitals like Northwick Park will save 400 Londoners’ lives.
The table below shows how activity has changed at Central Middlesex in the past five years.  Attendances to accident and emergency are up, as are elective (planned) admissions to hospital, non-elective (unplanned) admissions, and numbers of outpatient appointments and procedures.  Emergency surgery has reduced since the service was centralised at Northwick Park in 2009.
Table 2         Activity levels at Central Middlesex Hospital MH from 2005/06
Point of Delivery
2009-10 (Projected)
Variance between 2008-09 and 2009-10
A&E Attendances
Elective Admissions
Non-Elective Admissions
     of which Non-Elective Surgery
     of which Non-Elective Medicine
Outpatient First Attendances

Outpatient Follow Up Attendances

Outpatient Procedures


We are currently undertaking a public consultation on children’s services with a proposal to establish consultant-led paediatric assessment units at both hospitals that would be open from 10am-10pm and centralise overnight beds at Northwick Park Hospital
We have made it clear as part of that consultation that these changes complement, rather than put at risk, the future role of Central Middlesex Hospital, that of an important provider of health services offering 24 hour a day, seven day a week accident and emergency services, urgent care, emergency medical services, diagnostics, waiting list surgery and outpatient services.

What are the future plans for Central Middlesex Hospital?
It is easy to understand why so many people choose Central Middlesex Hospital – it is a state-of-the-art, modern hospital which can easily be reached by local people from Brent and beyond. 
Central Middlesex’s role – and that of other hospitals – will evolve and change as the Healthcare for London programme develops and government policy changes. In the meantime Central Middlesex will benefit from the following developments over the next twelve months:

·       Operating capacity will be increased so that more patients can receive orthopaedic and other surgical treatments;
·       An Urgent Care Centre is planned to open alongside A&E so that GPs can see the patients whose need is for primary rather than emergency care;
·       As part of the changes to children’s services, we will introduce a free relatives’ transport service between Central Middlesex and Northwick Park.  This will make it easier for family members to visit their loved ones who may be treated at either hospital.
·       We intend to develop even better models of care for patients with long term conditions such as diabetes, asthma and heart problems.  It is hoped that services will be more easily available in the community as well as at Central Middlesex Hospital itself which may also house a GP staffed polyclinic on site.

We hope that, after reading this document, local people are reassured that Central Middlesex Hospital remains an integral part of the health service in Brent.  You can continue to be proud of your safe, modern, local hospital that remains the first choice for an increasing number of patients.
If you require further information please contact the Acute Services Review team on 020 8869 3701.
Mark Easton         
Chief Executive
NHS Brent

Fiona Wise
Chief Executive
The North West London Hospitals NHS Trust

Thursday, 8 November 2012

What do Brent Labour think of Barnet Labour's case against out-sourcing?

This excellent video from Barnet Alliance sums up the case against Barnet's Council's 'One Barnet' policy that will see 70% of council services out-sourced.

Earlier this week the Labour opposition on Barnet Council, deploying a vote of no confidence at an Extraordinary Meeting of the Council, made a strong case against the policy.

They cited:
  • The loss of democratic accountabilty via councillors and the council when services were out-sourced
  • The poor record of private companies in this area which has included some becoming bankrupt
  • The uselessness of 'guarantees' provided during procurement when companies become bankrupt
  • Council tax payers' money being used to boost private company profits
  • The need for support for in-house bids from the present skilled and experienced workforce
  • The loss of those skills to the council  once private companies have taken over
  • Deteriorating performance by private companies once the initial honeymoon after the awarding of the contract is over
All these arguments can of course be made against Brent Council's escalating programme of privatiision. In fact the Barnet Tory Council leader Cllr Richard Corneliu, defending Labour charges of an ideological attack on publicly provided services, cited Brent as an example of A Labour Council that was out-sourcing. How could Barnet's strategy be ideological he asked, if Labour Brent was doing the same thing?  He capped this with a claim that Unison was out-sourcing its IT to a private provider.

In today's Brent and Kilburn Times a council spokesperson said that despite the collapse of the 4 borough public realm contract after the withdrawal of Barnet and Richmond, that Brent would go ahead anyway. In a twist to the story, despite the Casino claim in the video, Barnet had decided that the 4 borough contract was 'too great a risk' and decided to go in-house 'with stretch' for waste services that had previously been provided by May Gurney.

Monday, 5 November 2012

NHS Campaign steps up - details here

The fight to preserve and enhance the NHS in Brent and prevent privatisation took a step forward on Saturday when campaigners met up on the initiative of the 38 Degrees Campaign and planned their next steps.

The 38 Degrees petition asks the Brent Clinical Commissioning Group to protect the NHS from privatisation by including a clause in their constitution affirming that they will commission services from the NHS in preference to private companies. Hackney CCG has already agreed to this

The petition will be presented at the Shadow Brent  CCG at their consultation meeting on 14th November at the Wembley Centre for Health and Care, 116 Chaplin Road, Wembley, HA0 4UZ. The meeting is from 6pm until 8pm.The services currently being commissioned can be found HERE

The meeting will be discussing the Brent Integrated Plan which is a 3 year strategy  that outlines financial planning and details health care services the CCG plans to buy,

On Friday afternoon of this week pressure will be exerted on Sarah Teather, MP for Brent Central, when campaigners present her with a petition against the proposals in 'Shaping a Healthier Future' which includes the closure of Central Middlesex A&E. This petition also opposes privatisation of the NHS. Campaigners will meet at The Nest cafe at Willesden Green Station at 2pm on Friday 9th November and present the petition at Ms Teather's office in Walm Lane at 2.30pm.

When she left her government post Sarah Teather said that she wanted to devote more time to serving her constituents and this meeting will give her the chance to do just that.

On Wednesaday 28th November NHS NWL will be providing feedback on their 'Shaping  Healthier Future' consultation at the Hilton Metrropole in Edgware Road (opposite the tube station) from 5.30-7pm followed by a workshop for the public, patient representatives, clinicians and voluntary sector organisation working in groups on issues raised in the consultation. To attend register HERE

Monday, 29 October 2012

NHS NW London spent £7million on Shaping a Healthier Future "consultation"

NHS NW London spent seven million pounds on the Shaping a Healthier Future consultation. £7,000,000!

How they could have spent so much, money that could have been used to improve our health services, is hard to imagine. Gold plated paper clips?

The consultation itself was seriously flawed. Documents in languages other than English were not available until relatively late in the consultation process. The "roadshows" resembled public relations exercises, designed to sell an idea rather than any serious attempt to find out what ordinary people need and expect from our health service.

The context of the proposed changes - the implementation of the Health and Social Care Act and the merger of NW London Hospitals and Ealing Hospital trust - was ignored. There are now serious questions about whether the hospitals that will be left after the proposed cull will be able to cope.

The draft report produced for the final meeting of the Joint Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee of the affected boroughs was extremely critical of the consultation. It said:

We are however not convinced that the specific proposals presented by NHS NW London are supported in their current form, without significant clarification on significant issues. There are several primary reasons, these are:

  • Key elements of the plans remain opaque;
  • Information about the future shape of services for patients is absent;
  • Measurable outcomes for the proposals are underdeveloped;
  • Impact on local populations and groups with protected characteristics have not been developed in sufficient detail;
  • Key risks have either been underestimated or mitigations not identified or shared;
  • The proposals have been driven by a desire to move care out of tariff;
  • The consultation process has not been fit for purpose.
In addition there are a number of secondary reasons

  • There is insufficient evidence of ownership by key partners and by staff;
  • Critical workforce issues have been underappreciated;
  • There is insufficient evidence of alignment across health and social care system.
The  report also says, "There is an underlying sense of both immediate threat and unhelpful manipulation in these arguments which clouds an objective assessment of what might actually be the end result for patients over a realistic timescale." and "But our concerns about the consultation process are more fundamental than timing. We question the underlying approach and the extent to which this has had the feel or a marketing exercise rather than a properly conducted consultation exercise." Also (as well as a great many other criticisms, "There has been far too little engagement of staff and their representatives about the proposed changes." "A key concern is that virtually nothing of any significance about the proposals has altered over the nine months of development and engagement. This is not a sign of the strength of the proposals but an indication that a top-down, un-engaging process has been running."

Seven million pounds for a flawed, top-down, un-engaging consultation that was not fit for purpose. Seven million pounds that could have been spent on health care for local people.

Friday, 12 October 2012

An A4 poster for noticeboards etc or to email to all your contacts.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Fightback to present 2,000 plus petition against hospital closures today

Brent Fightback at Saturday's demonstration
Brent hospital campaigners have collected more than 2,000 signatures on petitions opposing hospital closures in West London and the privatisation of the NHS.

They will join campaigners from Ealing and Hammersmith today at 1pm to present the petitions to the North West London NHS Trust at their offices at 15 Marylebone Road, NW1 (close to Regents Park).

Please join them if you can. Brent campaigners will meet at Baket Street Station at 12.45pm.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Don't make a Casualty of our NHS

The NHS NW London consultation Shaping a Healthier Future, which proposes the closure of four A & E departments and the downgrading of Central Middlesex, Ealing, Charing X and Hammersmith hospitals, ends next Monday so we plan to deliver the thousands of signatures that have been collected by the Hammersmith and Brent campaigns at the consutation's HQ. Please come and join us if you can. Bring your banner or swathe yourself in bloodstained bandages.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Join campaigners from across London to show that we support ALL our Health Services. We will not allow one hospital to be played off against another.

NO TO AUSTERITY - Brent TUC October 11th

Thursday 11th October 7.00 - 9.00 pm
Learie Constantine Centre 
43 - 47 Dudden Hill Lane NW10 2ET
George Binette Chair, Camden Trades Council
Phil O'Reilly Secretary, Brent UNISON (Local Governement)
Matt Wrack General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union 

Defend NW London NHS on October 6th

Butt on the cuts and next year's budget

This report on the meeting with Cllr Muhammed Butt, leader of Brent Council is from Wembley Matters

Speaking at an open meeting of Brent Trades Union Council Wednesday September 26th, Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt admitted that some of the decisions the  council had made could have been made more wisely and that things could have been done differently. He said that he wants to take residents' views into account more in the future and that desire had caused some 'push back', which had culminated in the argument with Gareth Daniel.

He said that he wanted to take a detailed look at the council's budget, "How we provide services and why, reviewing every service."  He said that all directly employed council workers would receive the London Living Wage from October 1st  and that the council would be writing to schools to urge them to pay the LLW. He would be meeting with the London Living Wage Foundation to find ways of ensuring all the council's suppliers were London Living Wage compliant. He said that given the current difficult times the council had to do something positive to put money in people's pockets.

Other initiatives were to look at tenancies and how the council could improve standards without increasing rents, extend collective  energy procurement to include residents as well as council buildings and schools, and find ways of strengthening voluntary organisations such as the Credit Union, Private Tenants Group and the Law Centre.

He said, "We want to go back to what Labour stands for and why we are here."

In the discussion Butt was urged to recognise that the Labour Party was much more than just a council, it was part of the labour movement, and thus should be a campaigning  organisation against the capitalist system. He was asked how he was planning to organise a fightback alongside trades unions and the community.

Butt responded, "Me being here is just a start. I am willing to go anywhere, whether to a warm reception or a hostile one, to have a dialogue."

 He said that the Labour Group had appointed a new local organiser who would help get their message across and have a dialogue to move things forward, "We are starting campaigning and need to raise awareness. We want to make that change and if we don't our residents will suffer."

Asked about the budget process and council tax increases and urged to construct a needs budget as a campaigning tool,  he said that with the changes in the consultation system (The Area Consultation Forums have been replaced by Brent Connects) with a member/officer Any Questions type panel there would be more of a dialogue. Council Tax rises of 2.5% and 3.5% had been factored into budget planning but the council were waiting to see what other London councils were doing. The government's announcement of the settlement had been delayed until December but the council wanted an  indication before then. The council were also lobbying the government over the additional 60,000-70,000 extra residents indicated by the latest census which could be worth an additional £4m . This could negate the need for a rise in council tax because the council would only get 65% of the money raised by an increase He indicated that because of the delays the statutory consultation may run out of time.  He invited people to feed specific suggestions and questions into the budget making process.

When others present pursued the issue of making a needs based budget (ie deficit budget)  Cllr Butt said they were looking at campaigning  against the cuts. However, "We can oppose the cuts but budgets have to be set. We wouldn't be doing anyone any favours if the commissioners came in. They would keep only statutory services such as schools and adult social care. We would lose Sports Centres for example. We would land ourselves in more problems by taking that route. Instead we will have a dialogue which may mean working with other London boroughs. If you are asking us to take a lead, we will take a lead."

Outlining the sums the council needed to run services he said that government funding to Brent  was now £152m, was £192m, and by 2016 would be £110m.  Schools and Adult Social Care took £140m of this. The council needed £250m to run services so this total had to be made up from Council Tax and fees and charges.

Another speaker told Butt that a needs budget could not be set in the Town Hall, the council need to go out to voluntary organisations, trades unions and community groups - that was real democracy. He claimed that Labour had "forgotten what democracy looks like". In the absence of a fightback all sorts of rightwing nastiness and racism could arise.

Another speaker returned to the issue asking, "Are you considering a needs budget. It is a good propaganda tool showing what is needed and where the gaps are. Are you considering this or just administering cuts? We can't wait for the next Labour government. We need concrete exmaples of how you are going to fight."

Butt said that he was not ruling out a needs budget which would "show how much we have lost and how much we need". . Muhammed's new political advisor  he would be lobbying the Labour Party over how much cash needs to be put back into local government after the disproportionate cuts it had suffered.

On the issue of Willesden Green Library, raised by three members of the audience, Cllr Butt  said that he had met with Keep Willesden Green campaigners and had passed on their concerns to Galliford Try, planners and the Regeneration Team, and their points will be taken into consideration for the new plans being presented in December.. He said that the old Willesen Library was now being retained and this meant internal redesigns. The council were still looking at 92 private units at the back of the site and this was the only way to fund it.

He was challenged with  the alternative of a small amount of building and refurbishment and the loss of the cinema,  bookshop and car park in the current plans.   The questioner said, "It's like saying I need a new boiler so I will knock my house down! I've heard it called asset stripping."  Butt responded that a lot of the 'stuff' in the 80s building had come to the end of its natural life and the building was unfinished. The cafe and cinema  had closed as a result of not being used. "We need a mini Civic Centre in Willesden so people from this area don't have to travel all the way to Wembley and we need it an no cost to us."

On the plight of the disabled he said that he took the point about how they were being hit and that he was looking at helping them through the Council Tax Support Scheme: "If we have to lobby the government we will do so."

In answer to another questioner about the council's ambivalent attitude to free schools and academies and a possible forced academy in the borough, Butt said that they were a last resort to address the shortage of school places. He said that for free schools the council had set out criteria for partners that would keep the essential principles in terms of admissions, ethos and teachers conditions of service. He was urged to consider federation of schools and extending schools as an alternative.

Asked about the Counihan family, Muhammed Butt said that it was a difficult case. Brent had 18,000 families on the waiting list and only 900 properties available. The council hoped to provide 1,700 affordable properties by 2014. He said the only way  to tackle the problem was through regeneration and Section 106 funds  and the council needed to find developer partners. The situation would be exacerbated by the new Right to Buy scheme which would take out larger properties.

Clr Butt concluded by saying that the council had been rubbished by the press and had to admit it had got its messages wrong: "We need to get better, even if it means starting from scratch."

Pete Firm, chair of Brent TUC said that he felt the council were rolling over in front of developers. Labour seemed to be assuming it was going to win the next election, However, it should not be a matter of voting Labour because the alternatives were worse but Labour putting forward policies that people would be enthusiastic about.