27 Apr 2017

Urgent appeal as Sufra Food Bank demand rockets as a consequence of new benefit cuts

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Urgent appeal as Sufra Food Bank demand rockets as a consequence of new benefit cuts

Mohammed S Mamdani, Director of Sufra NW London, writes a lively Newsletter to supporters of the food bank and food growing project. His personal message is often humorous but beneath the humour lies anger at the injustice he sees through his work at Sufra.

Here is his latest message:

 Forgive my sarcasm, but I can just imagine the Department for Work & Pensions’ delight, three weeks into the latest round of benefit cuts. Cuts that will save mere pennies in the big scheme of things and penalise thousands of children with a life of poverty.

So what's it all about this time round? Until recently low-income families have received child tax credits to support the upbringing of a new generation. Now that we’re chucking out EU migrants, we desperately need to start reproducing so that we have a home-grown crop of economically active workers to pay for the social care of our elderly folk.

However, as of 6 April, families will only receive tax credits for their first 2 children, with no regard for any additional children in the family. It's a kind of state-sponsored baby sanction! The only consolation is that victims of rape will be entitled to additional tax credits - but you’re going to have to prove it!

I can just hear you sniggering. Most rape victims can hardly fathom reporting their violation to the police. Now you've got to tell the random dude who sits in the job centre too.

It's a double whammy since Her Majesty has also cut widows allowance (and the accompanying payments to a child who has suffered the bereavement of a parent). So, when your darling suffers a heart attack and drops down dead, don't grieve for too long. Wipe away those tears and be in work by Monday morning.

But why should British tax-payers pay for the upkeep of other people’s children?

Because children who grow up in poverty perform less well in school and have a lower life expectancy than their peers. And with the NHS crisis and a new funding formula for schools that will result in teacher redundancies, it will end up costing the nation more to deal with in the long-term.

Let’s not forget that hundreds of thousands of WORKING families rely on child tax credits. Parents who slog day and night, often in service industries or low skilled work. With almost all their wages covering the rent, child tax credits put food on the table.

And why are we subsidising working parents? So that we can continue to enjoy cheap take-outs, cheap clothing and cheap entertainment. Since we won’t pay more for goods and services, employers refuse to pay a sustainable, living wage. It is impossible to support a family, whilst earning the minimum wage (which equates to an annual income of £13,650). We’re paying for other people’s children, because we’re screwing them over in the work-place.

I accept that some parents are ‘irresponsible’ in their life-style choices (they are far fewer than the tabloids would make us believe). But why should we punish their children?

OK, I’ve got that off my chest now.


As you can imagine, demand at the Food Bank has skyrocketed. Looking around our storage facility, all you see are empty shelves. We’re surviving from one week to another.

I have no shame in dropping to my knees and begging you for your generous food donations. We need practically everything: long-life milk, tea (we’ve never been short on tea before!), biscuits, juice, rice, jam, cereal, instant noodles, soup, tinned fish, fruit and vegetables, toiletries, nappies… you get the drift.

The only items WE DON’T NEED are pasta (but yes to pasta sauce), baked beans and tinned chick peas.

If you can’t be bothered to head down to Lidl, like me, you can place an online order for delivery to us, or make a donation here towards our food budget. We promise that any donation made on this page will be restricted to food bank supplies. No admin costs.


We’ve scheduled two emergency food collections at local supermarkets, but we need volunteers who can help for a few hours on the day to distribute ‘shopping lists’ to guests, smile profusely and guilt them into making a food donation at the end of their shop.

Saturday/Sunday 13/14 May 2017 
Sainsbury’s Willesden Green – Register here.

Saturday/Sunday 20/21 May 2017 
Waitrose Brent Cross – Register here.

Fahim and Saba, who will oversee the collections, will be working across two weekends. That’s 19 days in a row without a day off. So please pity them, and help out.

Also, our youth volunteers, who normally assist with our supermarket collections, are all revising for exams, so it’s time for the oldies to step up.


To mark Ramadan, we would like to invite members of the community to an interfaith ‘food-waste’ iftar (the fast-breaking meal at sunset) at Sufra NW London on Saturday 2 June from 8:00pm.

The event will be an opportunity to see our work first hand, and celebrate our strong relationship with all of North-West London’s faith communities who sustain the food bank operation. Faith leaders from all denominations will also share their faith-inspired, ethical perspectives on food waste.

The event will conclude with a meal prepared entirely from food waste! And it’s free to attend. You can register here.


We need to borrow a cement mixer for a couple of weeks on the garden, so if you have one handy (like we all do), please get in touch.

24 Mar 2017

Clean Air for Brent

Clean Air for Brent is a coalition of local residents' groups, Transition Towns, Friends of the Earth and the Council to improve air quality in the borough.  We met earlier this week, and are keen to involve people in having their say on air quality in Brent and also on diesel vehicles, especially in view of the results from our pollution monitoring in October.

Last October we carried out air pollution monitoring in Willesden, Dollis Hill and Cricklewood, and found 7 out of 10 sites were above the EU legal limit for nitrogen dioxide (NO2), with Cricklewood Broadway being well over twice the limit (see maps here and here).  For more about the project see our online group.

Brent Council
 is consulting residents and businesses on its Air Quality Action Plan for the next 5 years.  You have until Thursday 30th March to add your comments. Please take a little time to read the plan and respond to the survey online here.  You can also email feedback to ens.monitoring@brent.gov.uk

If you have less time, please sign one or more of these petitions against diesel.  It is largely the increase in diesel vehicles that is having such an impact on the air we breathe:

-Ditch diesel in the UK by Friends of the Earth
-One directed at car companies from Greenpeace.
-You can also write to MEPs asking them to clean up vehicle testing.  They will be voting on this issue on 5th April.
And feel free to pass on this email to your friends and family.
Many thanks,
Transition Willesden
Making Willesden Green

Universal Credit: Claimants ‘stealing food’ to eat due to benefit delays

Universal Credit: Claimants ‘stealing food’ to eat due to benefit delays

Alan Wheatley


At Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group's weekly business meeting on Thursday 23 March, though we warmed to the page 2 prominence given to your news story 'Universal Credit: Claimants "stealing food" to eat due to benefit delays: Finance chief warns people are being forced into new debt',(1) we were very concerned at what to us seems a fundamental error in one sentence of your report.

That error concerns the length of wait for Universal Credit payments to be processed. You report, 'In some cases, people are waiting up to six weeks before claims are processed.' Waits as long as six weeks for benefit claims to be processed and "unacceptable" telephone helpline service standards are nothing new and pre-date Universal Credit and even the 2010 General Election. In November 2006 Community Care magazine reported: "MPs slammed Jobcentre Plus for leaving 21 million calls unanswered. Despite government claims of improvements, stories of poor service continue to mount."(2)

Where our 'experts by experience' would disagree with your report is that we believe your report should state, 'People wait a minimum of six weeks for claims to be processed.' Those delays are exacerbated by the income fluctuations caused by processing of Universal Credit claims in zero hours economies; and the DWP's deepening reliance on 'pay-as-you-go' call-centre service delivery that  penalises economically vulnerable people for their vulnerability.

Now, as you report, 'Telephone calls [to the Universal Credit helpline] can cost up to 55p a minute from pay-as-you-go mobile phones, which are commonly used by people with lower incomes. Wait times to speak with an adviser can be very long – one claimant in Camden has reported that their phone bill for a month was over £140, used almost entirely on calls to the DWP.”' That is an all-too-common experience, leading in many cases to rent arrears and subsequent evictions.

This sickening system leads more and more people to sickness and suicide, while the DWP refuses to take lessons from coroners courts and insists instead that disability benefit claimants be reassessed every six months as standard.(3) Against that backdrop, Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group will be highlighting local benefits-related suicides on Monday 3 April as follows:

12 Noon: Assemble outside Kilburn Jobcentre, Cambridge Avenue, NW6 5AH for rally with local Labour MP Tulip Siddiq, PCS (jobcentre workers union) National Executive Officer Zita Holbourne and Brent Trades Council Executive Committee.
12:45: Black Flag march to Paddington Cemetry via Kilburn High Road.
13:30: Address at Leon Burmont graveside by Dawn Butler MP and RMT Political Officer Cat Cray.

14:00: Prince of Wales PH, Willesden Lane NW6 for Tea & Sandwiches

14 Mar 2017

A message from Grunwick 40 and mural artist Anna Ferrie

News from Grunwick 40
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A message from Grunwick 40 and mural artist Anna Ferrie

Hello, especially to those who came to our mural workshops in Willesden last year.

We wanted to let you know about progress with the Grunwick 40 commemorative mural as many of you have been asking for an update. We had hoped to have the mural up by now but issues with site permissions and bureaucracy have meant that we can't yet move forward to install the panels. However, the mural composite designs are done and incorporate all of the artwork that was produced in the workshops. We are working hard to speed up the process to ensure the mural can be installed and unveiled within the next few months and we hope be able to bring you a firm date soon. In the meantime, you may be interested in The Art of Protest event later this month where we'll be discussing the different ways that art can be used to remember radical histories. We hope to see you either there or when we launch the mural!

Anna Ferrie and the Grunwick 40 team

10 Mar 2017

Eddie Dempsey, RMT Executive member, is the guest speaker at Brent Trades Council AGM on Wednesday 22nd March.

Eddie Dempsey, RMT Executive member, is the guest speaker at Brent Trades Council AGM on Wednesday 22nd March.

Eddie will speak about the ongoing dispute on Southern Rail over management's attempts to bring in Driver Only Operation, as well as other ongoing disputes, trade union law and other issues affecting trades unionists.

All are welcome to participate in this discussion, which will be followed by our Annual General Meeting, which everyone is welcome to stay for, but only delegates will be entitled to vote.

All welcome, Wednesday 22nd March, 7.30 p.m. at Brent Trades and Labour Hall (`Apollo Club', 375 High Road, NW10 2JR

Please pass this on to others who might be interested

Pete Firmin, chair, Brent Trades Council

6 Mar 2017

"Together" Maria Kaleta private view is taking place this Thursday 9th March 6-9pm

I kindly invite you to the private view of my latest exhibition opening this week. "Together" is a follow up to my 2015 exhibition "Identity & Coexistence” and concludes my reflections on life at the meeting point of different cultures and traditions.
The private view is taking place this Thursday 9th March 6-9pm at the Gallery at the Library at Willesden Green. Around 7.30pm there will be a short concert by Zosia Bernad - a young traditional voice singer. 
I'm very excited to share these new works with you. See you on Thursday!


About this exhibition
"Together" is a follow up to my 2015 exhibition "Identity & Coexistence” and concludes my reflections on life at the meeting point of different cultures and traditions. In "Identity & Coexistence" I focused on our identities and indissoluble need to understand one’s own place in today’s increasingly complex world. The works presented this year are a summary of my experience of living in London’s multicultural society and the resulting belief that a happy, peaceful future can only be achieved by coming together.
How to build ourselves a better future is a hot topic. The last 12 months have witnessed the breaking down of communities and an increase in protectionism. Perhaps they show that tolerance and acceptance for new cultures must be mutual and changes to how our society functions should be scrutinised in the context of its own history and tradition.
Yet change is inevitable and while it is natural to fear the unknown, it is ignorant to reject something you know little about and refuse to investigate. It is disappointing that the increased virtualisation of our lives and corresponding access to any and all information is instead creating the "filter bubble" and "fake news" phenomena.
Improving the interconnected and globalised world of today for future generations will require cooperation with others. We ought to get better at identifying and learning from each other’s strengths and concentrating on what unites us, not on what divides us.
The artworks utilise an array of printing techniques - some are prints on acrylic, others on 100% cotton paper with the use of pigment ink, drawing blocks and others. A few works from "Identity & Coexistence" make a deliberate reappearance, albeit in a different spatial arrangement.
The exhibition is accompanied by two catalogues - "Identity & Coexistence" and "Together".

Private view
Thursday 9th March6-9pm
- Gallery at the Library at Willesden Green
- 95 High Rd, London, NW10 2SF

Opening times
Gallery at the Library at Willesden Green
7th through 18th March 2017
- Mon to Fri 9am - 8pm
- Sat and Sun 10am - 5pm

Patrons of the "Together " exhibition
- International Print Triennial Society in Krakow / Kaercher
- Borderlant Of Arts, Cultures and Nations Centre–Sejny
- "Muzyka Kresów" Fundation
- Nowy Czas (New Time) London cultural magazine
- Brent Council

Maria Kaleta
Painter and graphic artist, graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan, Poland, Department of Painting, Graphics and Sculpture in 1988 and the National College of Arts – Exposition and Display. Maria’s work includes oil and acrylic paintings on canvas, drawings, pastels, traditional printmaking, computer graphics and installations.
Her art works have been exhibited all over Europe, as well as Russia and Latin America. She lives and works in London where she exhibited at The Mall Gallery, La Galleria Pall Mall, The Menier Gallery, The Espacio Gallery, Chelsea Old Town Hall, along with The Montage and others. She took part in about No170 group and solo exhibitions and has received several awards. Her pencil sketches of London architecture are regularly published in “Nowy Czas” (New Time) London cultural magazine.

Zosia Bernad
Member of the International School of Traditional Music, from 2003 she has concentrated on singing traditional Polish songs.
She has taken part in many festivals in Poland and abroad such as KODY, The Oldest Songs of Europe, Warszawska Jesień, Phil Grobi in Clermont – Ferrand and the Umlaut Festival in Paris. She took part in many musical projects including traditional and experimental music and released her first album last year, Traditional Songs of the Lublin Area.
In the programme there will be traditional songs from the Lublin area, as well as ritualistic songs of Christmas, christenings and weddings. There will also be lyrical songs about unhappy love. The main aspect of these songs is the extent of their scale and rhythm.ale.

"Together" Maria Kaleta  private view is taking place this Thursday 9th March 6-9pm 

3 Feb 2017

Stand up for Sen and the College of North West London

 Stand up for Sen - College of North West London dispute
UCU members at the College of North West London are standing up for their rep Indro Sen who we believe is facing dismissal because of his trade union activities. Members, who recently took strike action in defence of Sen, are calling for the employer to lift the suspension and drop all charges against him. Please send messages of support to Wapal.Worrell@cnwl.ac.uk.  

27 Jan 2017

Community groups get a grip on Brent's air pollution problem

Mounting diffusion tubes in Queen's Park
Four Brent community groups have been monitoring air pollution in the southern part of the Borough as part of a citizen science project across London. Four more voluntary associations have now joined forces with them in a campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of air pollution and improve air quality in Brent. Brent Council are supporting this effort.

In late 2016 Transition Town Kensal to Kilburn (TTK2K), Transition Willesden (TW) and Queens Park Area Residents' Association (QPARA) put up “diffusion tubes” to monitor nitrogen dioxide (NO2) in their areas. They surveyed main and residential roads, outside schools and in parks. The results are shocking: three quarters of the twenty sites the Transition groups tested exceeded legal limits for the pollutant. This complemented a similar survey of Chamberlayne Road NW10 by Kensal Rise Residents' Association (KRRA) in 2014. All the findings are consistent. They demonstrate that the closer you are to busy routes the more exposed you are to illegal pollution levels.

All eight groups, now including Brent Friends of the Earth (BFoE), Aylestone Park Residents’ and Tenants’Association (APRATA), Kensal Triangle Residents' Association (KTRA) and Brent Eleven Streets (BEST), met last week with Queens Park Cllr Ellie Southwood, Cabinet Member, Environment. They now plan to campaign together and work with others in the community to alert residents of the dangers of air pollution, show how people can reduce their exposure to it and improve air quality. This work builds on a successful track record of residents' associations coming together to energise and engage the Queens Park ward community on air pollution.

Air pollution is a health hazard. It is estimated to be responsible for the premature death of 9,400 Londoners a year and many serious illnesses. This compares with 127 deaths from road accidents in London in 2014. There were 112 early deaths in Brent from air pollution in 2010. Medical research shows that air pollution is linked with cancer, strokes, heart disease and respiratory problems. The main pollutants are nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter, particularly from diesel vehicles. The principal source of air pollution in Brent is road traffic, though emissions from heating systems also contribute.

Viv Stein from Transition Willesden says, “Not surprisingly we found the highest levels of NO2 pollution along busy main roads – Cricklewood Broadway down to Kilburn High Road, with many other areas also above what's considered safe. In view of this we are pleased to learn that greener buses will be coming to this heavily polluted route under the Mayor of London's Low Emission Bus Zones, though we will have to wait till at least 2018.

“Though our findings show only a snapshot of pollution over a short period, results are in keeping with other studies across London. We would like to do further monitoring, and involve schools, businesses, residents, health providers and the Council to raise awareness and take action on this public health issue. Along with other local groups we are now planning to raise awareness about vehicles idling, and about the damaging impact of all diesel vehicles, including diesel cars which now make up nearly half of the cars on the road.”

Janey McAllester from Transition Kensal to Kilburn says, “Pollution affects us all. Drivers need to be aware they and their passengers are breathing in a lot more pollution inside their cars than walking or cycling. The less time we spend in cars, the better for everyone. We want to encourage more cycling and work with the Council to help people cycle and walk more.”

Souraya Choukeir from QPARA says, “Air pollution is not something you can see so people are often not aware of how bad it is or of the harm it does. But there are things that we all can do to reduce it and protect ourselves from it such as switching to cleaner, non-diesel vehicles, driving less, and, where possible, walking on less polluted side streets.”

Cllr Ellie Southwood says, “It was great to see residents’associations and green groups coming together to share hard evidence about the problems of air pollution in Brent. I look forward to their helping us develop actions to deliver the Borough’s new Air Quality Action Plan and I am looking forward to working with them to make a positive difference to the air we breathe in Brent."

The two Transition Town groups each set up ten diffusion tubes to monitor NO2 in their areas between September 24th and October 8th. They also tested for particulate matter at a number of sites. This was part of the Cleaner Air 4 Communities programme run by the London Sustainability Exchange (LSx). QPARA monitored ten sites around Salusbury Road in August and October. BFoE have also started monitoring this month.

The groups' findings will add to Brent Council's own monitoring data which measures NO2 at 27 locations across the Borough. Much of Brent is designated an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) as clean air standards are not being met. The Council's new Air Quality Action Plan will be going out for consultation soon. The voluntary groups hope that the plan will engage with their efforts, and make all residents and those who work in Brent aware of the need to combat this serious threat to our health and well being.

To find out more about the Transition groups' project, see their results and join in, see http://ttkensaltokilburn.ning.com/group/air-pollution-monitoring. More on QPARA's project is at http://www.qpark.org.uk/action-groups/environment/.

26 Jan 2017

Brent Trades Council 25/1/2016: College of N.W.London, NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’,Harlesden Post Office Threatened, Brent Unite Community

Brent Trades Council 25/1/2016  (Report By P.Murry Brent & London Green Party Trade Union Liaison Officer)

1)      College of N.W.London

I attended as an observer because Indro Sen UCU Branch Secretary of the College of N.W.London had been invited. I was trying to find out for Green Party TU group and UCU retired members’ branch more info re the dispute at CNWL. Sen did not attend the meeting and info was still needed on  the current state of the dispute ie: were the merger plans for CNWL and Westminster College, whether there were any redundancies and was Sen himself suspended or dismissed, I’ll try some other contacts at the College.

2)      NHS ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’.

There two speakers on this subject, one whose name I didn’t note, and Anne Drinkell. In summary STP’s are the latest plan for NHS ‘reform’ seen by many as an attempt to prepare for a privatised health service and introduction of insurance related health provision. STP’s had been secretively planned with minimum public and professional consultations. N.W.London ( Hounslow, Kensington& Chelsea, Hammersmith and Fulham, Brent, Harrow and Ealing) was a prototype area for STP’s . The rationales given of improving specialist care, such as Cardiac provision, didn’t make much sense as specialist provision was already available. Ealing and Charing Cross hospitals were immediately under threat. STP’s could also foist more responsibility onto local authorities for social care onto local authorities which couldn’t cope with the responsibilities that they already had.

A more detailed summary of the issues around STP’s from the London Green Party Campaigns discussions on 14/1/2017, is added below.

Considerable professional and public opinion against STP’s appears to be gathering, the BMA has opposed them. Well attended public meetings had taken place in Hammersmith and Brent Labour Party was campaigning ahainst  them at its regular  stalls.
I t was reported (by G.Durham), to have instructed Brent Council to oppose although Brent Labour group leader  had advocated a ‘dented shield’ strategy of being involved with STP’s in order to mitigate their worst effects. The Trades Council agreed to support the NHS demo on 4 March (http://www.prruk.org/4-march-2017-its-our-nhs-national-demonstration/), the Green Party was supporting this.

3)      Other matters discussed
a)Post Office Closures: Harlesden Post Office Threatened: impractical scheme of re-Locating Post Offices inside local shops. (see http://greenseniors.blogspot.co.uk/2016/12/green-seniors-should-support-postal.html).
b) Brent Unite Community branch being set up (contact Robin Sivapalan robsivapalan@hotmail.com)


Heather Finlay, Green Party activist in Hackney and lay member of Hackney CCG, also of Hackney Healthwatch: the Sustainability and Transformation Plans; what they mean, how they threaten major cuts, how to respond to this.
Merril Hammer, Save our Hospitals Campaign Hammersmith and Charing Cross; experiences of opposing hospital closures and how to campaign to preserve what we have.
Helen Mercer; People vs PFI
Pam Zinkin; Islington KONP (Keep our NHS Public)
Some web sites to look up for background:-
Health Campaigns Together: www.healthcampaignstogether.com/
Keep our National Health Service Public (KONP): www.keepournhspublic.com/
People vs PFI: www.peoplevspfi.org.uk/
There was quite a lot in this meeting about ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plans’. Each group of London boroughs has one – they aim to reduce the cost of the NHS by various ‘savings’ which include moving people out of hospital faster and treating more of them as outpatients in the first place. All this throws extra burdens on the grossly over-stretched local authority social care budgets. A number of local councils have refused to endorse the STP for their area, or merely to ‘note’ it rather than say they support it. Campaigning to avoid these cuts can be addressed to councillors as well as to central government. Hopefully resistance from local councils and from within the medical profession will induce the government to put more money into the NHS and into social care. The various CCGs were supposed to sign contracts with NHS England to accept their local STP on 23 December. What follows is a lengthy consultation period in which the nature of the cuts can be debated and challenged – although unless central government changes its mind, the extent of the ‘savings’ demanded has already been set.

Notes of discussion – main practical proposals
1)    Green Parties should be seen to oppose STPs. It’s not too late for councils to object. They can also impose conditions on the STP partnership.
2)    As individual Green members we can join existing campaigns like HCT and KONP. It helps those organisations if Green Parties affiliate.
3)    We can also start our own campaign in our area if there is none- but they tend to be more effective if non-party. People can start a branch of KONP or HCT if there is none locally.
There is a helpful resource pack on the HCT web site about campaigning, including against STPs.
4)    We can and should support the NHS Reinstatement Bill, which has its second reading in the House of Commons on February 24th – see http://www.nhsbill2015.org/the-bill/
A helpful amendment which could be proposed to this bill would be to alter the way in which re-nationalisation of PFIs would be dealt with – as per Helen’s talk – to take back the assets rather than the debt. Replacing the debt with government bonds would help the companies rather than deprive them, and of course add to the national debt. Alyson Pollock and Peter Ruddick may try to secure an amendment to reflect this change.
PFI burdens on local authorities are huge – this impedes them from taking responsibility for social care properly.
Contracting out of some NHS services means it is effectively being given away rather than sold for money – see article in the latest Green World (the one about to come out ?).  (This was from Mike Gold; see also his own blog, www.radicalsoapbox.com).
Although there is little money left in the NHS for adequate monitoring of services, the public can hold PFI companies and sub-contractors to account through Healthwatch. There are meetings where the results on ‘key performance indicators’ are presented and can be challenged. There are financial penalties if these key indicators are not achieved.
Some debate as to the relative importance of local actions like this and national lobbying and Parliamentary intervention. However…
5)    the meeting was impressed by Heather Finlay’s role on the CCG and Healthwatch in Hackney, and concluded ‘every Green Party needs a Heather’ – though with a warning that this sort of committee work is very time-consuming.
It’s hard to get the public to believe and take in what is happening to the NHS – they just think everything is ok unless their own or their family’s treatment hits an obstacle.
6)    It’s important to issue lots of leaflets, which must be very simple and avoid acronyms. Green Parties can help distribute KONP, HCT etc leaflets with Greens’ own material. So when we do a leaflet round, we can add a health related leaflet to it as well.
7)    Publicising the issues about the NHS crisis and its roots in STPs, PFIs and sub-contracting can also be done through social media; especially useful to create video clips.
8)    The March 4 demo about the NHS will be very important and we should start mobilising for it.
9)    We should set up a London group within the London Fed to support local parties in health related campaigning and coordinate between them, for example the several boroughs who share a particular STP ‘footprint’.

Helen Mercer of People against PFI outlined the dangers and costs of PFIs and – as described above under point 4 - mentioned an apparent flaw in the forthcoming NHS Reinstatement Bill; that it calls for re-nationalisation (i.e. public buy-back) of the PFI debt, whilst a better policy would be to call for the buying back of the much smaller amount of equity capital in the PFI company, thus acquiring the assets involved. The arguments she made are already online at:-

Merril Hammer of Health Campaigns Together talked about the STPs (Sustainability and Transformation Plans) and strategies to oppose them including by and involving local councillors. Text of talk ...scroll down...

Forthcoming health related events:-
Saturday 28 January

London Rally & Protest - Hands off our NHS 12:30 Old Palace Yard. Invite your friends on Facebook here.

Message about 4 March demo from Health Campaigns Together:-
The leaflet for the 4th March Demo will be available by 12th January; please send Louise your orders
 louise.irvine@runbox.com        (make sure you include a postal address).
It is a generic leaflet. If groups want a PDF designed with their local details about coaches or contacts added to the design let us know and we can get it designed and sent back to you for local printing. We are very grateful to People’s Assembly for leaflet design and to Unite for printing.

Some groups are doing a day of action on Saturday 14th to help build for the demo and if you would like leaflets for that please let Louise know as soon as possible so we can get them to you in time.

We also have a website now www.ournhs.info.
Please send any information about local groups’ arrangements, coaches and contact details and we will upload to the website. This will be particularly helpful for people who find out about the demo but don’t know about local transport arrangements.

Please share the information with your local contacts and on social media via Facebook and Twitter (#ourNHS). There is a demo Facebook page :https://www.facebook.com/events/1771664639725061/

Finally, any donations would be welcome towards our costs. You can donate to Health Campaigns Together and the details on how to send donations are on the HCT websitewww.healthcampaignstogether.org

(Louise said) I also attach our list of demo supporters so far. (it is not complete). If anyone has any to add please let me know. It would be good to have the growing list of supporting organisations on the website.

The HCT meeting on 21 Jan will discuss plans for the demo and we are hoping there will be a wide representation of campaigners there.

Any queries just email or you can phone me on 07922 277395.

Best wishes and happy new year to you all,

Merril’s talk on STPs:-

·        Sustainability and Transformation Plan
·        Slash Trash and Privatise
·        Slash Trash and Plunder
·        44 ‘footprints’ across England, 5 of them in London – combining CCGs and local councils
·        Govt and NHSE – to improve health provision in the context of a population that is growing older, living longer and is presenting more complex problems.
·        Reality: cutting funding and moving to more privatisation. What is proposed is politically driven and not driven by health concerns. Tories never liked the NHS. Elected on a ‘no more top down reorganisation of NHS’ they have, first, had the Health and Social Care Act 2012 implemented. This rolled out the marketisation of health care. (Caroline Lucas is fighting this with the NHS reinstatement bill), and now, with no legislation and no full parliamentary debate, instituted the STP top down reorganisation.
·        CUTS. Nationally, the NHS has to deliver £22bn in cuts by 2020/21
·        Huge reduction in hospital beds, closing A&Es, moving to more ‘care in the community’ – it varies to some extent between STPs – but let me give some figures for the NW London STP
·        Closure of 2 hospitals and more than 500 acute beds to be lost, despite effects of earlier A&E closures… Aim to cut more than £1.3bn in NW London … increased workloads for already overstretched GPs … more online GP consultations … privatisation through American-style ACPs … and by encouraging prevention and wellbeing so people don’t get sick!!
·        Lack of evidence – and what they do present is ‘unfit for purpose’ – and the costings etc. don’t add up!
·        Dependence on social services – now hugely cut and without more than a minimal ‘bribe’ from NHSE. And dependence on unpaid carers … in our STP, 103,001 unpaid carers.
·        Innovation in context of cuts simply cannot work
·        Not only are STPs being implemented without parliamentary approval; local consultation is a farce – more a sales job to a very limited no. of people
·        Further, STP governance is moved further away from any form of local accountability. Meetings will not necessarily be open to public. Much local control disappeared with the 2012 Act and the setting up of unaccountable CCGs (Clinical Commissioning Groups) which are really a market mechanism. Now, the governance will move even further from local accountability.
·        Clearly a result of ongoing cuts to the NHS, particularly hospital services. In NW London, there has been no recovery from the disastrous closure of 2 A&Es – and yet 2 hospitals are to be closed and turned into glorified UCCs  (Urgent Care Centres) when they can neither cope with current emergencies and the growing backlog of non-urgent operations.
·        This is a pattern being repeated across the country
·        In Worcester, only this week, 2 people died waiting for care, one after a 35 hour wait on a trolley; the other of an aneurism after many hours on a trolley.
·        More people being seen in corridors etc.
·        The details being covered in the press are the tip of the iceberg!
·        One patient in NW London, with acute appendicitis, was not seen for 16 hours in total. She attended one hospital, was transferred to another and then to another … with long waits, in pain, at each. This is shocking!!
·        Overwhelmingly, the crisis is being caused by lack of beds for seriously ill patients, staff shortages partly because of funding and partly the result of recruitment issues (a real problem in London) and NOT because people are inappropriately using A&Es. The government is moving blame from itself to the patient – this is dangerous. A small anecdote on staffing: Richard Sykes (Chair of NHS London); ‘working our staff to death’ – there are no efficiency savings left to be made.
·        Health care expenditure in Germany, Sweden, France, Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Austria in 2015 was higher than UK expenditure as % GDP – and it has fallen significantly since. Indeed, this week The Guardian said that % GDP spent on health is already at 6.6% - compared to 11% in Germany and an EU average of 9.9% in 2015.
·        Practicing doctors per 1000 population. European average 3.5; UK average 2.8 – only just above poor eastern European countries
·        MRI units – Europe average 15.4; UK – 6.1 per million population
·        CT scanners – key for cancers – Europe average 21.4; UK – 8 per million population. And for both, the no of actual MRI scans or CT scans are well below the European average. Also interesting, then, that cancer survival rates are poor in the UK.
·        Indeed, mortality rates for pneumonia and COPD in the UK are also significantly worse than the European average.
·        Hospital beds per 1000 population. European average is 5.2; UK is 2.7 – and Germany has 8.2.
Give some consideration to priorities for Green Party, Green councillors and individual Green party members.
·        Get the Green Party, locally and nationally, to oppose STPs. It is NOT too late to get councils to object! Signing up without proper scrutiny etc.
·        Join, as individuals, local campaigns – non-party political but would be welcomed with open arms
- London STP areas and local campaigns
     NW London: Westminster, K&C, H&F, Hounslow, Ealing,
              Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon
SW London: Croydon, Kinsgton, Merton, Richmond,         
          Sutton, Wandsworth
SE London: Bexley, Bromley, Greenwich, Lambeth,
          Lewisham, Southwark
NE London: Barking and Dagenham, City of London,
          Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower
          Hamlets, Waltham Forest
N Central London: Barnet, Camden, Enfield, Haringey
- start a campaign if there isn’t one in your area
·        Get the Green Party – nationally and local branches – to affiliate to KONP (Keep our NHS Public) or HCT (Health Campaigns Together). See web sites www.keepournhspublic.com/ and www.healthcampaignstogether.com/
·        Familiarise yourself with information about STPs and campaigning – see HCT website
·        Support the March 4th demo.