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Apr 24th, 2012

NHS Event: Live Blog

By Cian O'Donovan

Today, two big private healthcare companies, are planning to schmooze leading GPs at a London conference. Over the last 48 hours more than 20,000 38 Degrees members have chipped-in to try and level the playing field. We’ve invited doctors to our own patient-sponsored event down the road, just after their conference finishes. We’ll be live blogging details right here as the event progresses.

NHS Event jargon buster
Industry conferences can be full of jargon and acronyms so we’ve put together a quick cheat-sheet below.

  • CCG – Clinical Commissioning Groups are replacing Primary Care Groups and will decide how care of patients works and advise patients on where to go for treatment. The groups will mostly feature GPs.
  • Hospitals as foundation trusts will compete for treatment contracts from these CCGs. For further info on what the Health and Social Care Bill will change;
  • The conference – The event organised by two big private healthcare companies to discuss how CCGs will be defined. All Clinical Commissioning Group Leaders have been invited. Also in attendance: Secretary of State Andrew Lansley.
  • Capita and United Healthcare – The big private companies wanting influence and access to GPs.
  • Sponsors – Supporters of the 38 Degrees event who want GPs to hear from experts explaining the role patients can play in helping to protect our NHS – and why they need to listen to us, not just big business.
  • NHS – Amongst the best healthcare systems in the world. The organisation we’re fighting to stand up for. The Health and Social Care Act has set in place a framework that pushes the NHS towards fragmentation and privatisation. But with the right campaigning, we could slow the pace of these changes or even change their direction.
  • GPs – Local decision-makers who are now tasked with implementing the new NHS structure. In charge of deciding the future of local health services, and now being closely watched by 38 Degrees members!
  • Patients – People who might need the NHS! People who 38 Degrees members have voted to fight for in our latest members poll

Earlier this morning: 8am 
38 Degrees team members had an early start as they showed up to the conference early armed with cupcakes and a smile to invite GPs to the people powered event later in the evening. Read Becky’s report here.

Here’s a tweet from one of the attendees:

Amusingly, 38 Degrees are very politely picketing the NAPC/Alliance conference. With cupcakes…

— David Williams (@d_williams_) April 24, 2012


We’ve just set-up the room in which the event will happen. Pride of place is this massive projection of some of the 20,000+ members who have donated to this patient powered evening. We reckon it will take over 90 minutes to get through all the names.

List of donors

Here’s a reminder of who’s going to be in the room speaking. We’ll have highlights here as we go.

  • Zoe Williams (chair) Guardian columnist and journalist, who has recently written about our NHS campaign. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zoe_Williams
  • Dr David Wrigley Patient & Public Engagement Lead for Lancashire North CCG. GP in Carnforth, Lancashire. Member of BMA UK Council and the BMA General Practitioners Committee. http://drdavidwrigley.blogspot.co.uk/
  • Dr Louise Irvine GP in Lewisham, Member of Executive of London Regional Council of BMA, and Programme Director in Lewisham for GP Specialist Training
  • Dr Ron Singer Retired GP from Edmonton, with over 30 years’ experience working in the NHS, sits on the general practice committee of the BMA.
  • Roy Lilley NHS Writer, broadcaster, commentator. Trustee of Patient Choice initiative, founding member of NHS Trust Foundation. http://www.roylilley.co.uk/CV_page.html


UPDATE: Speakers

David greets panel members

UPDATE: First up to speak is Dr David Wrigley. He urges all of us to talk to our own GP at the end of a consultation. Make sure they know we’re worried about what’s happening. It’s fundamental that the trust between us and our doctors is not destroyed by these changes. Campaigning on this issue could make a big difference.

UPDATE: Next Dr Ron Singer who says there are going to be tensions between patients and their CCGs. Because of the bill  what the NHS provides will have to shrink. There are new organisations and professional relationships have changed.

UPDATE: Dr Louise Irvine now speaks. She has been campaigning on the NHS for the last year and a half from street theatre to public meetings.  She asks us if we know that health companies are already buying up huge parts of the NHS and if we’re happy about this. People care about the NHS she says but they don’t know what’s going on. We lost the battle on the bill, but we have to keep on fighting to defend the NHS. We have to be pragmatic, but that’s not abandoning our principles,
Dr Irvine asks us what’s the reality. The CCG is a contested territory. One of the good things about GPs is their ‘fierce independence’. So let’s test how much autonomy the CCGs have. We can be a powerful force for CCGs. We can help them get legal advice to say that they don’t have to put things out to tender.

The big danger is if patients and public lose interest. 38 Degrees should be involved with organizing patient pathways – Dr David Wrigley

UPDATE: Roy Lilley: We have to steel ourselves for a different NHS for financial reasons, if you think this is bad you ain’t seen nothing yet. These are very serious times that point to smaller governments and services which will change the relationship between government and the people. That means big changes for GPs. We’ll all have to hold ourselves to account for the health services.
There’s no good CCGs saying they’re obeying the law with letters and posters.  We’ve got to watch carefully and scrutinise. If it’s ‘our’ NHS, then only we can put the ‘our’ back in it.  External forces will make us redefine healthcare, we’ll have to put a new rationale behind the use of resources. His big concern is the public will show their concern too later.

UPDATE: David Babbs if he thinks there is any negatives to people powered action. Louise Irvine says absolutely not. Roy Lilley has a concern about politicisation. He says we need to keep a close eye on Healthwatch, who have to only meet their CCG once per year. We’ve got to become the friend to the CCG, not the enemy. We’ve got to find a new language to contribute.

UPDATE: Campaigning doesn’t need to be (party) political as 38 Degrees members have shown.  – David Wrigley

UPDATE: A member of the audience (of GPs) suggests there could be some mileage in putting current local engagement in historical context. Taking it back to 1948 could be very helpful.

UPDATE: Roy Lilley says that for the average guy in the street, nothing’s changed. The 18 week target is holding up. Broadly the NHS is performing out of its socks. The public will only notice when performance drops.

Roy Lilley adds that we’ll need sharp eyes watching regulation.

UPDATE: An audience member says there should be a website for legal advice that would support progressive CCGs. In addition it be useful to have something in plain English which would tell people our rights in the NHS and the new bodies like CCGs. .

UPDATE: That’s it for the live blog. We’ll have a report full of all the ideas and suggestions from both panel and audience just as soon as we can.

This article was amended on 25/04/12 to delete a paragraph which appeared twice, and to add Dr Louise Irvine’s full name and title alongside her contributions to the discussion.

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