NHS: Local campaign success in Haringey

Below is a blog written by David, a 38 Degrees member in Haringey. David and other local 38 Degrees members have recently convinced the Haringey CCG to adopt some important amendments into their constitution that will protect local NHS services from dangerous privatisation. 

On Thursday last week Haringey CCG made public their draft constitution, which included the 38 Degrees amendments on procurement and commissioning virtually word for word. The amendments mean the CCG has to consider whether it is ‘necessary, desirable or appropriate’ to invite competition when purchasing health services.

The victory comes after a couple of months of persistent pressure and lobbying. We first met as a group in early November last year. The turnout at the meeting was a good indication of the strength of feeling in Haringey – over 30 people turned up despite the limited meeting space and we had to be given a larger room. We learnt that 2252 Haringey residents had signed the 38 Degrees petition. We decided that a group of us would present the petition to the Chair of the CCG as soon as they would agree to meet us, which turned out to be the first week of January.

The meeting went well with the CCG Chair, Chief Officer and Lay Representative attending. They told us that as a membership organisation the CCG needed to consult their members, the local GPs, and  their lawyers before making any amendments to the constitution. They said they had to comply with EU competition legislation. Thanks to 38 Degrees, we were able to tell them that they had been produced by public law lawyers and had already been adopted by City & Hackney CCG. They said they would let us know what the outcome was by the end of February.

When they wrote to us following the meeting they were a bit vague about consulting with the GPs, and it turned out that they had finished the consultation with GPs in December. Therefore we felt we had been misled at the meeting. It was difficult to get information out of them so we decided to attend the meeting of CCG board at the end of January and table formal questions about the consultation process. We did a call out to people who attended the initial meeting to support those asking the questions. Again the response was fantastic with over 30 people attending. They had to search the building for more chairs as the six they had provided clearly wasn’t enough.

The meeting wasn’t handled well. We were given written answers to our questions that were then read aloud, and we were not allowed to ask questions to clarify the answers we had just been given. The atmosphere became a little fraught! Those of us there decided we needed to meet again to keep up the pressure on the CCG board. We wrote to all the GPs in Haringey, we contacted the local press, we contacted local counsellors on the Overview and Scrutiny Committee, we contacted our local MP, and planned a public meeting.

We were supported in our campaign by our local health anti-privatisation group Defend Haringey Health Services. They had done a lot of work last year trying to get the CCG to sign up to a pledge to resist the top down imposition of Any Qualified Provider. They had connections to other local anti-cuts and anti-privatisation groups which helped build support for the amendments.

The constitution is still in draft form and will be formally adopted at the next meeting of the CCG board on the 14th March, which will be at the West Green Learning Centre at 1.30pm. We’ll be encouraging everybody involved in the campaign to attend to witness the CCG taking this bold step.

We are planning to go ahead with our public meeting and we’ve invited a representative of the CCG to talk about the constitution and their Patient and Public Engagement Strategy. We want to have an impact on the way health services are commissioned and provided in Haringey in the future, and the adoption of the 38 Degrees commissioning amendments by the CCG is a good start! The recent news about the coalition trying to sneak through the Section 75 legislations that will force CCGs to put contracts out to tender means that we need to keep campaigning. Sign the petition here.

If you’d like to be involved in the local NHS campaign in Haringey please do get in touch – haringey38degrees@gmail.com

David