Letter from the Chairman
Phew! What a month June has been. In addition to the usual meetings with Voluntary Action Lewisham (VAL), Age UK and others, it certainly has been an interesting month, culminating with the two anniversaries, one of which celebrated the 70th year of arrival of the Empire Windrush, and the other the NHS which celebrated its 70th birthday. Whereas the former is a saga that is likely to run for a while the ole NHS goes chugging along, with more and more changes planned, while the CCG continues its endeavours to get the best service for us. VAL is the baby in this family, but is about to reach its mid-century, and on 5th July celebrated “50 years of community action in Lewisham” at a “Refuge Resistance Response” event and heritage exhibition. Copies of the project booklet are available from the Forum or VAL.
You can’t have missed the number of TV programmes over the last fortnight generated by this significant anniversary and what I find even more significant is the change of tone in the reportage which seems to be moving away from the blame game. There was also the remarkable Government announcement in the middle of last month of majorly increased funding. It seems that public outcry and pressure, in which the LPF have played their part, is having some effect. However the devil is in the detail and such statements need to be taken with more than a pinch of salt (as two sayings go) so we have reproduced in full on page 3 the joint press release of 17 June from Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together and The People’s Assembly Against Austerity.
The Windrush event at the Broadway Theatre started with an explorative, informative, historical scenario, which everyone seemed to enjoy, as I noted the excitement of the guests as they left the Theatre. Some have commented to me after the event. The Westminster Abbey event was totally different. It was attended by the Prime Minister (yes) and politicians from all parties. The Order of Service was followed to time, and included special readings and actors reliving what it was like to reach London for the first time. The soloists performed arias with aplomb. Over 2,000 attendees left feeling elevated, met with old friends, even rekindled friendships, and the like. Closer to home the two events will remind many of the racial biases we endured; sadly this is still evident to this day.
LPF Pre-retirement Seminar
On another front, on Wednesday 25 July LPF will be running a Pre-Retirement Seminar. If you have, or know anyone at work, encourage them to attend this free seminar, because they might never know when they might be made even redundant. Inform your nuclear and extended families; they will benefit from this seminar. And if you haven’t already done so, do send in your contribution of “a snippet of advice I would give my younger self”. Your experiences count!
Blackpool—NPC Pensioners Parliament
Now that the euphoria has waned, let me say that LPF sent a group of four to the National Pensioners’ Convention (NPC) annual Parliament, something we had not done in a very long time. The four consisted of Tracey Jarrett, Joyce Jacca, Dr Lurliene Miller, and myself. Before going further I must thank them all for the way they supported me, especially Tracey. They looked after me.
I noted that the three day conference was not as well attended as in the past, and there were not as many banners. The numbers were lower than ever before, but for the fact that there were many first-timers (evident by a show of hands) it made me wonder where the pensioners had all gone. Obviously some of them had aged and could no longer stand the pressures of three days of concentration. Fortunately, most of the focus groups were held on the ground floor.
The conference is usually held at the Winter Gardens under the auspices of the Mayor of Blackpool. The current Mayor, James Coleman, descends from three generations of Mayor of Blackpool, each of whom has supported the Parliament, and he has vowed to maintain traditions. He alluded to the fact that over 60% of older people live alone, and they should have someone to fight their corner. The Winter Gardens is a listed building but, if I might say, is in need of a – more than – a facelift. In my view, the Keynote Speakers were not of the usual branding, i.e. politicians, or people who are able to give us inside information. Nevertheless, they brought us information that could be construed as useful, relevant, and fit for purpose. On the first day one of the Speakers was Leanne Davison of Unison who talked about improving the lot for Care Workers. There was Mike Newton who quoted Abraham Lincoln as saying: “You cannot escape the responsibilities of the present by talking about the responsibilities of the past.” He was passionate about the £13bn, and £8bn taken from the Pension fund and spent elsewhere. He concluded with a synopsis of what the miners experienced. He aroused a lot of passion.
Another Speaker was Dr Gemma Carney of Queens, Northern Ireland who presented on Brexit, whilst Steve Hedley presented on the developments as regards to Guards on Trains from the RMT perspective. Other Speakers included Jan Short the new General Secretary, who is an erudite Speaker, of the NPC. David Brigson of Age UK, who is a young man, gave a very good presentation on social care. His talk woke me up. He was enlivening. He knows his onions, as the Bermudian saying goes. There was Dame June Clarke of the RCN who gave an academic dissertation of where the NHS is now. We will be transcribing/translating our reports in due course.
It is our plan to organise for more members to attend Parliament next year, that is provided we can raise the funds to do so. Anyone who might be interested in going can start saving up now, in case we cannot, or do not, get funding. It will be on a first come first served basis.
At this juncture I’ll leave this, as I am exhausted reliving all of it.
Bridgit Sam-Bailey Chairman
Our next trip is on Thursday 19 July, a unique opportunity to get up the scaffolding (in place until September) see close to the restoration work on the Painted Hall in the Old Naval College in Greenwich. Although we do not need to pay until the day (the discounted cost per person with the group booking will be £9) we do need to confirm numbers in advance, so please let the office know by 10am on Monday 16 July whether you will be joining us. Everyone to make their own way to the entrance to the Painted Hall, meeting up at 3.30. (Take the DLR from Lewisham to “Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich” or the 177, 180, 188, 199, 286 or 386 buses all pass nearby.)
And on Monday 13 August we are off to the seaside! A minibus to Broadstairs where there are cliff-top promenades, beaches and harbour, mini-golf and two Dickens museums. Phone the office (020 8690 7869) to reserve a seat, to be booked and paid for (£15) by Monday 30 July. We will be meeting up in the car park behind St. Laurence House, Catford at 9.30am. The drive to Broadstairs is one and a half hours, but we will have a comfort break en route.
Do you know people who might be just drifting along towards retirement?
Point them in the direction of our “Pre-Retirement Fair” (see back page). This free event (funded by the Bright Ideas Localities Fund) is chock full of discussion and ideas on how to make the mental, emotional and financial adjustments essential for a happy retirement. Booking required. 020 8690 7869
Local and National NHS Campaigning
Serious questions surround increased NHS funding – an inadequate response for cash-starved service
Joint press release: Keep Our NHS Public, Health Campaigns Together and The People’s Assembly Against Austerity Theresa May has announced today an increase in NHS funding by 3.4% a year for the next 5 years. The headline 3.4% increase only applies to the NHS England budget and not to the whole NHS budget. Importantly, it also excludes medical and nurse training and public health budgets – these are crucial to the delivery of NHS services. The overall increase promised is in fact only 3% a year.
Even this is a reluctant response from the Government to the unrelenting pressure exerted by campaigners, health unions and the electorate – and even health think-tanks and NHS Providers – to provide desperately needed increased funding for the NHS, left in a critical condition after suffering 8 years of virtually flat funding per person.
While any funding increase is to be welcomed, 3% will not be enough to repair the damage already done to the NHS from years of austerity. At least a 5% real uplift next year would be needed to begin to begin to repair the damage done and at least 4% per year is essential after that to ensure the NHS is fit for the future.
As always with the Conservatives, the devil will be in the detail. We don’t know exactly how this money will be allocated and what strings will be attached. In 2016 the government announced a £10bn a year increase. However, due to some accounting tricks involving moving money around within the Department of Health budget, according to the Nuffield Trust it resulted in only £800m in real terms.
This promised increase must be genuine new money and not a repeat of the ‘smoke and mirrors’ designed to appease the public without resulting in any significant benefits. Resurrection of the tarnished claim of a ‘Brexit dividend’ to fund the NHS is political gamesmanship, when most analysts predict a negative fiscal impact, at least in the short term.
Whilst Theresa May talks of extra funding not being wasted, there are no policy measures to ensure that increased funding actually improves health care delivery rather than paying for the private market and wasteful bureaucracy the Government has created. There must be an end to the fragmentation of the NHS and the enforced contracting out of NHS services to the market. The NHS must be reinstated as a public service. Currently £billions are wasted on market transaction costs and outsourcing to the private sector. NHS efficiency, co-ordination of services and collaborative delivery of care is undermined by competition.
With no promised increase in social care funding any funding increase for the NHS will have limited benefit. Social care has suffered from extremely damaging cuts over the past eight years and this has adversely impacted the NHS. Social care cuts have cause caused real suffering and an increased mortality rate in those who are directly affected. Any new funding settlement for the NHS requires increased funding for social care. Think-tank estimates argue for a 3.9% annual uplift in real terms for social care. There should be no pretence that “integration” of health and social care, without extra funds for both, will solve the problems of either service. True integration will require social care to be brought into the NHS as a public service and to be properly funded.
Health Campaigns Together, Keep Our NHS Public and People’s Assembly join with NHS staff, other campaigners and concerned members of the public in continuing to apply pressure on this government to fund the NHS properly and reinstate it as a public service according to its founding principles as this is the most economical way to run the system and deliver high quality care for all. We will be calling for these demands on 30 June at the celebration and protest in defence of the NHS at its 70th Birthday.
Dr Louise Irvine, a GP in Lewisham, south London and co-chair of Health Campaigns Together, says:
‘The Conservative government’s promised funding increase for the NHS is too little too late. It is in fact only 3% a year – they’ve done their usual smoke and mirrors to make it appear more by only counting the increase to the NHS England budget and not the overall Department of Health budget. 4% is the minimum increase needed. 3% won’t be enough to repair the untold damage the Tories have done to the NHS over the past eight years of austerity or secure its future as a high-quality service. I fear that patients will continue to suffer needlessly, and staff will continue to leave the profession due to stress and burnout. We’ll see more rationing, cuts and closures and insufficient improvement, if any, in waiting times. Any increase in funding is welcome but its a missed opportunity to put the NHS back on its feet. There’s so much more the Government could and should do. It could stop wasting precious NHS resources on the failed experiment of the market and outsourcing and reinstate the NHS as a public service – the only way to ensure effective and efficient joined up services. And it needs to increase social care spending by at least 3.9% a year because without decent social care the NHS will continue to pick up the pieces for all the elderly and disabled who are not getting the care they need.’
Dr Tony O’Sullivan, retired paediatrician and co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public says:
‘The NHS and social care have been severely damaged by the last 8 years of wilful neglect. NHS workforce planning was abandoned leaving 100,000 vacancies and doctors and nurses working in extremes of pressure and ending up in tears of distress. They do not need more mischievous statements, previously exposed as lies, about ‘Brexit dividends’ that smack more of electioneering than care for the NHS. We need a commitment to respect NHS staff once again, reinstate the NHS student bursary, pay staff properly and to put the NHS back together again alongside a publicly funded social care system.’
LPF members linked up with a big cake and banner carriers from the Save Lewisham Hospital Campaign in the march on 30 June when tens of thousands from all over the country took to the London streets in bright sunshine to celebrate the 70th birthday of the NHS and tell the government that, as Nye Bevan prophetically hoped, there are still plenty of “folk left with the faith to fight for it”.
Dates for your diary
- Wednesday 18 July:
- Launch of St Mauritius House Lunch Club. Please phone Titi Adeleye on 07483 999 954 for more details and to book your place. Costs £5.
- Thursday 19 July:
- Social Group tour of the Painted Hall in the Old Royal Naval College, Greenwich (see page 2).
- Friday 20 July:
- Forum Table in the Riverdale Centre, Lewisham—come along to say “hello” and pick up latest survey, flyers, petitions etc. 10.30 to 12noon.
- Sunday 22 July:
- Phoenix Festival Forster Memorial Park.
- Wednesday 25 July:
- LPF Pre-Retirement Event (spread the word to friends & family and come along yourselves!)
- Friday 27 July:
- Lewisham Local History Society talk on Croydon Airport and the Golden Era of Air Travel. 7.30 for 7.45 in the Methodist Church Hall, Albion Way, SE13 6BT. All welcome. Non LLHS members asked for a donation towards room hire.
- Sunday 5 July:
- LLHS follow up visit to Croydon Airport tour of the 1930s listed buildings and museum.
- Fridays 10 & 24 August:
- Riverdale Table (see above).
- Monday 13 August:
- Social Group outing by LCT minibus to Broadstairs (see page 2).
- Wednesday 3 October:
- Pensioners Day in the Broadway Theatre, Catford —Save the Date!
Every Monday we’re in St. Mauritius House
Lewisham Park, SE13 6QX with activities (knitting. games and puzzles) the Friendship Quilt, morning and afternoon and our Digital Drop-in 1pm to 3pm.
You are also very welcome to call by between 10.30am and 2.30pm to sign up and/or pay for trips, to just say “hello”, or to raise anything with us.
Plus we are now a part of Lewisham Healthy Walks. Be there at 12noon for a short guided stroll around the ever-changing Lewisham Park.
Note that with the exception of Thursday 26 July and Monday 27 August (the Bank Holiday) all LPF activities in St. Mauritius House continue throughout the summer.
How to get to St. Mauritius House for the LPF Monday Project, Thursday Seated Yoga (free—2.30 to 3.30) and the Wednesday Lunch Club.
Easy access from all bus routes going between Catford and Lewisham, by the Hospital. Get off at the “Lewisham Park” stop just north of the Hospital—then about 100m up Lewisham Park on the left there is a building with distinctive horizontal red and yellow striped brickwork.
Local support for those who have Type 2 Diabetes through Healthwatch Lewisham
Diabetes Peer Support Groups have been set up across the borough for people to share their experiences and talk with others about how to cope. Call Fay on 020 8690 5012 to find out when and where one meets near you.
ICE Pack Update
We hope that all LPF members (getting their newsletter direct) duly received the yellow plastic card wallet with the last issue as well as the A5 yellow form to complete with your emergency contact numbers and medication details. If you did not get a wallet do ring the office or call in to the Monday Project. (Things got rather frantic as the delivery people let us down so the wallets were only collected in the nick of time and part-way through our envelope stuffing by your Chairman driving over to Bermondsey!)
And when you have them—use them! Half the people on the last Social Group outing hadn’t brought them along…