Are the Green Party privatising the NHS?

Brighton & Hove council has been led by a minority Green Party administration since 2011. They were honest before their election that they wouldn’t set an illegal budget to resist austerity. Only two of their candidates signed the pledge against all cuts that we in the Brighton Stop The Cuts Coalition sent to all candidates. But they continue to talk about being an anti-austerity and anti-privatisation party.

Yet this mokitkatrning I was on a picket line with GMB members on strike to win a regrading they

This morning's picket as dustcart drivers strike against a Green Party led council

This morning’s picket at the bin depot

were led to believe would happen after their strike against the council’s attempt to cut their pay. (This was a strike that reinforced bitter divisions among the green group on the council reminiscent of the left-right split in Labour councils in the 1980s. Green MP Caroline Lucas, who supported the strike hilariously handed out kitkats to strikers on the picket line, a reference to Jason Kitkat, the much unloved leader of the green group.)

Approved Mental Health workers in Unison have also had to take strike action against management in the council. Many on the left seem to react with glee at every hint of “sell out”, even though they had no reason to believe that things would be any different. Even many of the Green councillors themselves knew running Brighton & Hove would be a nightmare, with one declaring that accepting office was going to be like accepting a “poisoned chalice”. But few of us expected a Green council to mimic the Tory & Labour mania for privatisation. Especially when our Green MP speaks so passionately about keeping the NHS public

But have the Greens really voted to privatise part of the NHS?

Sussex Defend the NHS is an excellent campaign bringing together the GMB, hospital staff and campaigners way beyond the usual suspects. One of their activists has asked me to post this on my blog, in order to help clarify the situation. They are absolutely not Green or Labour supporters. But in order to oppose any attacks on public services, locally accountable services or workers rights, we must be absolutely clear what we are fighting. Hyperbole and exaggeration play into the hands of politicians like Jason Kitkat as they make it easier for him to dismiss us. With more cuts and attacks on local democracy in the pipeline, we need to be able to take on all their arguments, however cleverly put.

“The vote was not to privatize substance misuse services. It was to award the contract to a 3rd sector provider. This is important, as insisting it was privatization merely allows Kitcat to wriggle off the hook by saying we are misrepresenting him and no privatization took place. However, what Kitcat & Co have done is to transfer a service out of the NHS and into the hands of a non-NHS provider who are in tandem with another NHS trust who are believed to be contemplating a move away from AFC terms and conditions and becoming a ‘social enterprise.’ The facts are thus- a service has been transferred out of the NHS. That transfer was against the wishes of the staff who work in that service. It was also against the wishes of the residents of Brighton & Hove, 1700 of whom had signed a petition opposing the transfer which was presented to the committee effecting the transfer. In completely disregarding this, Director of Public Health Tom Scanlon, Green leader of the council Jason Kitcat and all the others who either advocated this transfer, voted for it or abstained, have shown a complete contempt for democracy. It is shameful. Moreover, following the bin workers dispute, it must surely have fatally affected the chances of the Greens, who were elected on a ticket offering radical change from austerity and privatization, being re-elected”

“A decision was taken at this afternoon’s Policy & Resources Committee to transfer Brighton’s Substance Misuse service out of the NHS. Following Tuesday’s meeting of the Health and Wellbeing Board (who incidentally are composed of many of the same people who comprise the PRC, so you have the farcical situation of people making recommendations to themselves) council leader Jason Kitcat took to Twitter to reassure himself that this decision did not result in privatization. Whilst this is technically accurate, what the actions of those responsible have done is to create a situation where many hard-working and dedicated staff now must endure many months of job insecurity and uncertainty about their future. Will they be able to continue to keep a roof over their families heads or be repossessed? Will they be able to put food on their families table or will they need to go to a food bank? Will their children now wake up on xmas morning without the presents they hoped for because their parents are now too financially insecure to spend money on xmas presents. Will the family be able to take a holiday next year or are they facing redundancy? Meanwhile, the good folk of the Health and Wellbeing Board and Policy and Resources Committee will console themselves that they haven’t privatized the NHS and can therefore allow themselves a peaceful nights sleep. Perhaps they will be awakened by an inspector calling?”
If you want to see all the details of the campaign to keep  Substance Misuse Services in house, its all HERE at Sussex Defend the NHS, along with links to the committee reports and a letter to Jason Kitkat. The local papers’ report of the unions and Defened the NHS lobby of the council meeting is HERE

One thought on “Are the Green Party privatising the NHS?

  1. I posted a blog from joordinarybloggs to the Facebook Group ‘Brighton Disabled People Against The Cuts” (DPAC which is a national disability network, DPAC).

    The blog was about how Green Party Brighton and Hove had sanctioned the service ‘DRUG AND ALCOHOL RECOVERY

    The decision on the website concluded “Recovery Service contract is awarded to Cranstoun as the lead provider” The first response from the Green Party was “The answer is no the Greens are not. Check out the last P&R committee website via bhcc.”

    When I enquired about a more transparent link I was told after I had submitted a huge amount of press coverage and I thought I had found the relevant page was “On the left of that screen, council webcasts”.

    I then expressed my struggle as it was evening time and how difficult it was to get to the actual truth.

    It turns out the primary provider was Cranstoun, not part of the NHS at all.

    I then submitted the Cranstoun Charity details from the website Charity Commissions where they state they are an independent charity and are a non government organisation.

    I was then told by another Green representative that “Surry NHS were their partner for this contract amongst other partners”.

    I checked back on the Green Council website and it does not mention by name any other partners for this NHS contract. I copied and pasted the whole ‘decision’ by The Green council onto the Facebook Group. By this time it was late so I said my good nights. No actual links were provided by the Green reps.

    I am checking back the following day and wrote the following on the Brighton DPAC wall

    The answers to my questions do not stand up. Having reread ‘The Decisions’ it says ” Recovery Service contract is awarded to Cranstoun as the lead provider “. As you cannot or will not make this whole decision transparent and give credible answers as I cannot find any links to a “Surrey NHS”, all the different articles inclosed in the link above must be true. The Green Party have sold off some of the NHS. You say one of the Partners are Surrey NHS, well if you google search Surrey NHS you get quite a choice of options, so again you have not done your homework in directing me to what you are saying. I am not going to believe you until you can link up what you are saying, it’s called ‘accountability’. Why it is taking so long for The Greens to provide this is noted. Here is a link to the vague ” Surrey NHS”

    Reference links are$$$Decisions.doc.pdf

    Also under the final paragraph they say –

    Other options include using more than one Service Provi
    der and splitting the city
    geographically into lots.
    The rationale for using one Service Provider across the
    city is supported by the
    learning from the current contract. As the service is regu
    lated by strict legislation –
    minimum quality expectations will be met by all Serv
    ice Providers. Working with one
    provider across the city will provide consistency, economies
    of scale, reduce
    pressure on resources within the council and provide us wi
    th the opportunity to focus
    our mechanical and electrical resources on improving servi
    ce delivery to our tenants.
    Proper Officer:
    Date: 17.10.14 Mark Wall, Head of Democratic Services

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