Support the NHS challenge Hunt in judicial review

Hurrah. A group of NHS staff and patients announced today that they have instructed Bindman’s LLP solicitors to investigate judicial review proceedings.  Excellent news. So what is it all about and how can we the public help?

What is a judicial review?
It is a type of court proceeding in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body. So in this case the Health Secretary would have to provide evidence to justify the decisions he has taken and show that they are reasonable, viable and legal. Through this process, the group will uncover whether the government has considered the full implications of the dangers of this contract imposition, and whether the decision was legally made. I think we all know the answer to that one but unfortunately we have to go through the process to get it. 55,000 NHS staff wrong or a few MPs? Hmmmm.

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The review
This will be a far-reaching judicial review centering on the detrimental impact of the proposed new contract on patient safety and stability of the NHS. While the BMA has already announced a legal action last week on grounds that the Health Secretary has failed to carry out an Equality Impact Assessment, the group of NHS staff and patients’ challenge is significantly broader in scope, examining many other aspects of the decision to impose a contract on junior doctors with issues of patient safety at its heart.

Dr Ben White said “Forget the lies and propaganda. The imposition of the junior doctors’ contract affects all NHS service users. Staff know that the lack of workforce planning, lack of cost modelling, plus rota and staffing issues, create a perfect storm where patient safety will inevitably be compromised. We must challenge this contract in the High Court. A judicial review would consider all relevant factors and hold the government accountable for decisions it has made. Ultimately, this is about public safety.”

The truth and lies behind the junior doctors’ strike
Dr Jacky Davis wrote a guest post a couple of weeks ago and in it describes the facts about the change in contracts and provides the information you need to know if you are in any doubt that what Hunt is imposing is safe for you and your family.

Dr Francesca Silman said “It is clear the government has not considered the implications of their plans- financially, practically or in terms of impact on patient safety. In a recent Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee review, it was suggested that the senior department of health chief, Charlie Massey, was ‘flying blind’ on this issue.  We cannot tolerate politics placed before patient welfare.”

In the same Public Accounts Committee review, David Mowat, MP, said “I am surprised that you can put this [7 day NHS] policy in place without having some idea of the implication for staffing levels at the headcount planning level … or, indeed, for cost and budget.”

Why is this review important?
Dr Phil Hammond, Vice-President of the Patient’s Association said “No one can say whether the new contract will be better or worse for patients than the existing one. Medicine is littered with examples where expert and political opinion has trumped proper scientific evaluation, at huge cost to patients. Please support this judicial review” He has already said “Test the science”, Hunt’s way and the doctor’s proposal, in different hospitals and see what works and he said a lot more sense too:

What can we do to help right now?
The group, backed by prominent medical staff and patient safety advocates are crowd funding through Crowd Justice. At the point of writing this the initial £25,000 needed to start investigation proceedings had been raised. It is unknown just how much needs to be raised in total as it will depend on how strongly the issues are disputed, whether other parties decide to support the challenges, how lengthy and complex the research will be, how many hearings will be needed and how long the final hearing is.

So please contribute to the fund. The page and more information can be found here: Crowd Justice donation page: Crowdjustice.

What else can we do to help?
If you want to help then there ARE things you can do and some of them will only take a few seconds of your time and all will help raise the profile of all the issues.

  1. Please read about what is happening to the NHS and its staff  and think about joining a campaign or a local patients group.
  2. Practical action could also include writing to your MP and to national and local papers to support the juniors, turning up at the picket lines on days of action
  3. The continued use of social media to dispel the lies put out by the government
  4. Share this post with friends and family
  5. Join the campaign – Keep Our NHS public
  6. Read up on the privatisation of the NHS at NHS for sale
  7. Follow and rt @keepnhspublic
  8. Sign the petition Consider a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary
  9. Sign the petition Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA
  10. Sign the petition Labour Party and TUC – call a national demonstration to support the junior doctors!
  11. Sign the letter asking asks David Cameron to show the BMA his plan for extended seven-day services here.
  12. Join the thunderclap here takes place 6.30pm 14th March 2016

Together we can save our NHS, please help. If you want the NHS to fight for you and your loved one’s health in the future you have to fight for it now, because otherwise it may not be there just when you need it.

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Truth & lies behind #juniordoctorsstrike (& what you can do)

Looks like the majority of the public are against Jeremy Hunt, his bullying tactics and refusal to listen to people who know what they are talking about. From just a glance at social media he is completely outnumbered. His arrogance is stunning (yes in my humble opinion but I know I am far from alone!) up there with with Iain Duncan Smith whose arrogance knew no bounds when I questioned him in two surgeries! But what do we truly know? We know that it is probably more sensible to believe the entire medical profession than one single man and an MP at that, but what is the full story about what we are being told and what can we, the public do if we are truly behind the NHS? Is he right? Is he wrong? I asked Jacky Davis, a consultant in North London, a founder member of the campaign Keep our NHS Public and a member of the BMA Council to tell us. She is the co-author of two books about the NHS – NHS SOS, how the NHS was betrayed and How We Can Save It, and NHS For Sale. The final chapter of NHS SOS is entitled ‘What you can do to save the NHS’ and contains much practical advice about what the public can do to fight for the NHS. Follow her at @DrJackyDavis for up to date news about the NHS.

Guest post by Dr Jacky Davis

Dr Jacky Davis

Junior doctors are revolting
For the first time since the 1970’s junior doctors have taken industrial action in protest against a new contract, which they say is unfair and unsafe. On their side David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt claim that a new contract is needed to deliver a ‘7 day NHS’. You will of course hear greatly differing versions from the two sides of what is being offered and the grounds for rejection. Junior doctors say:

  • The contract will force doctors to work longer and later with fewer safeguards. This threatens to compromise patient safety
  • The 11% pay rise is more than offset by a drop in pay for working antisocial hours
  • Doctors pay starts below the national median – starting salary is £21,000, for an ASDA manager £22,000. Doctors also have to pay for registration, legal protection, insurance and exams
  • The new contract would penalise those who take time out to have a family or who work part time.

The government proposes that normal working hours should now be from 7 am – 10 pm Monday to Saturday (please note MPs have just cut their own hours and increased their own pay). The reduction of hours that attract extra pay is a red line in the sand for the government, because if they can redefine them for junior doctors they can redefine them for other NHS staff too…

On the government’s side, Hunt and Cameron have used their ‘manifesto promise’ of a 24/7 NHS to justify their imposition of the contract but it is important to remember:

  • We already have a 24/7 NHS. No-one is sent home with a broken leg or a burst appendix on a Saturday afternoon. Almost all NHS clinical staff work out of hours to provide emergency and urgent care, as Hunt was reminded by the twitter storm #ImInWorkJeremy
  • We can’t afford a routine 24/7 NHS While the government have refused to define what they mean by ‘a truly 7 day NHS’ they have indicated that they mean routine care available 7 days a week. Pilots show that patients don’t want this and Hunt certainly can’t afford it. Routine care requires not only doctors but all the support staff of nurses, radiographers, porters, admin staff etc. It would mean extending an already overstretched service across 7 days instead of 5.
  • A new contract is not needed to improve out of hours care. Emergency and urgent out of hours (OOH) care always needs improving, but this does not require a new contract for junior doctors. The devolved nations are not imposing this contract (and indeed are already looking to recruit disaffected English doctors) and there are trusts in England which have improved their OOH care without the need for a new contract.
  • Leaked document reveals Jeremy Hunt’s own officials doubt his evidence on seven-day NHS plans more here so just who actually backs him?

What Cameron and Hunt say…
Both Cameron and Hunt have repeatedly misquoted statistics about increased mortality in relation to weekend admissions despite being publicly contradicted by the authors of the paper they quote and by the editor of the BMJ.  What’s more Hunts misleading claims about the dangers of being admitted over the weekend mean that 53% of people are now afraid of going to hospital out of hours, in itself a dangerous state of affairs. And ironically it has already been reported that Hunt’s treatment of the juniors has led to clinical initiatives to improve out of hours (OOH) care being derailed

As for the government’s accusation that junior doctors have been misled by their ‘irresponsible’ union – these are for the most part not people just out of medical school. ‘Junior doctor’ means most hospital doctors below the consultant grade, so that many of them will have years of experience on the wards, young families to consider – and a good understanding of their contracts. Of the 76% who voted, 98% supported industrial action, a percentage that political parties can only dream of (the Tories won the last general election with a vote of 36.7% on a 66% turnout).

Hunt has accused them of putting patients in danger but while junior doctors are striking patient care is being provided by highly experienced consultants and associated specialists (and it is well documented that mortality stays the same or actually drops during doctors’ strikes). It is true that some patients will have had their operations postponed, but while Hunt wrings his hands about this no-one has mentioned the fact that 70,000 operations were cancelled last year, due to NHS underfunding eg bed shortages, lack of staff and theatre time. This dwarfs what has happened during the 2 days of industrial action but there has been no mention of it in the mainstream media.

Current status
Cameron and Hunt have now taken their own ‘nuclear option’ and imposed the contract, the first time this has ever happened. Imposition, apart from seriously upsetting the very doctors who are the backbone of hospital care, could have serious consequences for recruitment and retention of doctors. 14 out of 20 CEOs have already withdrawn support from a letter in which they supposedly backed Hunt. Meanwhile Hunt – while claiming to have an open door – has dodged not only numerous invitations from the media to state his case but doctors themselves, running away from any confrontation. An event for which junior doctors had bought tickets was moved elsewhere at the last minute, and doctors who did manage to get there were screened out at the door. It is a damning indictment when the Health Minister is afraid to face his own staff.

Hunt and Cameron know that the public are overwhelmingly behind the junior doctors and the NHS in general.

What YOU can do to help put pressure on Cameron and Hunt
If you want to help then there ARE things you can do and some of them will only take a few seconds of your time and all will help raise the profile of all the issues.

  1. Please read about what is happening to the NHS and its staff  and think about joining a campaign or a local patients group.
  2. Practical action could also include writing to your MP and to national and local papers to support the juniors, turning up at the picket lines on days of action
  3. The continued use of social media to dispel the lies put out by the government
  4. Share this post with friends and family
  5. Join the campaign – Keep Our NHS public
  6. Read up on the privatisation of the NHS at NHS for sale
  7. Follow and rt @keepnhspublic
  8. Sign the petition Consider a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary
  9. Sign the petition Jeremy Hunt to resume meaningful contract negotiations with the BMA
  10. Sign the petition Labour Party and TUC – call a national demonstration to support the junior doctors!
  11. Sign the letter asking asks David Cameron to show the BMA his plan for extended seven-day services here.
  12. Join the thunderclap here takes place 6.30pm 14th March 2016

The fight that the government has picked with junior doctors is just part of the present attack on the NHS and its staff. Cameron and Hunt are using the vague promise of ‘a truly 7 day NHS’ to impose a contract on junior doctors, in the hope and expectation that if they win they will roll out these changes to other NHS staff. They think the public’s interest and support will wane but we must not let this happen. This is everyone’s fight, NHS staff and patients and the public, and it is surely the government that is now taking risks with patients’ lives. Don’t let apathy win, every little thing helps.

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Thank you for supporting OUR NHS.

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Dr Phil Hammond says test the science, Hunt’s way and the doctor’s proposal in different hospitals and see what works.

You can always rt some of the best tweets out there too:

nhs 1 nhs2 nhs3 nhs4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clips of Jeremy Hunt caught out over and over again.