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Keep Our NHS Public: Campaigners slam 'savage' NHS proposals at Islington Town Hall

PUBLISHED: 12:52 14 March 2019

Tricia Barnett and, left, Cllr Richard Watts at the meeting. Picture: Abigail Buchanan

Tricia Barnett and, left, Cllr Richard Watts at the meeting. Picture: Abigail Buchanan

Archant

Activists rallied against the "rapid dissection of the NHS" at a public meeting of the Keep Our NHS Public (KONP) campaign at Islington Town Hall on Monday night.

Campaigners, councillors and the public joined forces to express concern about the privatisation of Islington’s health services.

Discussion points included cuts to the health service, plans to move mental health beds from St Pancras Hospital to the Whittington and the general challenges facing the borough.

Cllr Richard Watts, leader of Islington Council, spoke at the meeting alongside a number of health professionals.

He said: “The NHS simply does not have enough money to continue as it is…we need genuine democratic accountability for social care.”

Founder of KONP, Dr John Lister, claimed the care system was not fit for purpose.

“Performance targets are being missed across the board,” he said. “There aren’t enough beds in the system.”

He also attacked the NHS long-term plan for the borough, calling it “a power grab” and “a serious erosion of what the NHS stands for”.

The long-term plan, published in January, combines clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) into integrated care systems that cover larger areas.

“It’s an absolute scandal that they’re allowed to do this,” added Dr Lister.

“This has been carried through without discussion.

“It includes complicated proposals that actually amount to privatisation.”

The plan also hopes to ease the burden on primary and outpatient care by encouraging patients to use online services.

Sanda, a concerned local resident, told the meeting: “I’ve heard from friends who’ve been sent back and forth between services because their local surgeries can’t offer basic treatments.”

A spokesperson for Hornsey pensioners action group said he had seen similar changes in his home borough of Haringey.

“People are suffering,” he said. “They don’t know where to turn. I dread to think what the future holds.

“The biggest problem is cuts. Cuts to what services are available, where and when they’re available and how many people can access them.

“It’s got to the point where phones aren’t even being answered.”

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