Friday, June 14, 2013

St Mary's Hospital (Harrow Road) - Work-In and Occupation 1981

On December 17th  the Defence Committee of St. Mary's Hospital, Harrow Road, held a press conference at which Tony Benn and Ken Livingstone declared their full support for the struggle of the staff to defend their hospital against the loss of 100 beds and eventual closure.

St.  Mary's, Harrow  Road, has been under threat for the last four years and in the past only the vigorous opposition of the staff has prevented its total closure;

The hospital serves the Paddington and Kilburn area and local residents have seen the decision to close "their" hospital and move surviving services to the prestigious St. Mary's Teaching Hospital in Praed St.

The press conference heard Terry Pettifor, NW Convenor of the London Ambulance Service Shop Stewards, describe the effects of the run down of the Casualty at Harrow Road (which is the major accident unit in the District) and pointed out that the remaining casualty facilities in the District are inadequate to cope with the number of casualties which could easily arise in an accident at the nearby Paddington Station or in a major fire.

Terry pointed out that a relatively small fire in Bayswater the week before had stretched the District's capacity to the full.

The fight in the hospital has been particularly sharp since the declaration- of a work-in on June 26 1981 . In the course of this fight staff have twice occupied areas of the hospital—the first time the administration offices were occupied for 13 days and the second time a ward was occupied for five days to prevent closure. On both  occasions court orders were used to evict.staff.

Police and security guards have been brought into the hospital no less than four  times  to  support  management's plans. A TGWU shop steward was sacked, and a nurse was suspended for a week, for attempting  to  prevent  the  forcible removal of patients from a ward.

Throughout this struggle no more than token support has been gained from the unions involved-TGWU, NUPE, COHSE and the failure of the labour movement to evolve its own strategy on health care has been partially responsible for this state of affairs.

The leadership of the TGWU-which has been most centrally involved in the struggle—has effectively washed its hands of any responsibility. Despite policy won at  the  1981  BDC  it  has  consistently refused to mobilise its great industrial strength behind this key battle.

 With a few honourable exceptions there has also been little support from CLPs outside Paddington. It is essential that  the  labour  movement  begins to evolve its own strategy to defend and extend the principle of free and adequate health care for all which was enshrined in the formation of the NHS by the 1945-51 Labour government.

It is impossible to see the defence of the NHS without the political mobilisation of the labour movement as a whole to defend our health service—any narrow economism of "leave it to hospital trade unionists" merely puts the onus on the weaker sections of our movement.

The Labour Party must see the fight for health as being one of the key questions that faces it. It is not enough to ritually denounce private practice if we lack the political answers and will to mobilise the community around this key question.

There is undoubtedly a move towards smashing the growth of trades unionism within the NHS. Julian Nettel who is now at St. Mary's was involved in the closure of St. Benedict's. In the last two years
over 20 militants have been victimised out of the NHS. In St. Mary's, Rita Maxim, a TGWU shop steward who has Stood up to management all the way, faces the sack for refusing to do two jobs.

Management obviously intend to continue this strategy in St. Mary's now they have succeeded in closing the first three wards in the hospital. They have also sacked a telephonist for leaving work at the end of his shift without waiting for a relief.

Trades unionists in the hospital realise they have lost the first battle but the war is far from lost. Help us fight to win.

Send donations and messages of support to Mick Woods, c/o TGWU Office, St.   Mary's   Hospital,   Harrow   Road, London W9.
Mick Woods, Brent E. CLP and former TGWU shop steward  St. Mary's Hospital.

Friday, June 07, 2013

COHSE Student Nurses Charter 1989

The National Learner Forum has been established as the result of a resolution submitted to COHSE Annual
Delegate Conference in 1989 by South Sheffield Branch in recognition of the special needs of all learners, both
inside and outside COHSE.

We intend to formulate and promote a Charter for Learners which consists of the basic rights that we feel all
learners should have and for which we intend to campaign.

The NLF intends to take an active and helping role in establishing a learner group network throughout the
organisation, specifically:

• LOCALLY - promoting and campaigning for local learner groups, to relate to local issues, to promote national
campaigns (for example the Charter) and to encourage learner participation in COHSE at branch level;

• REGIONALLY - promoting regional learner forums to work closely with Regional Councils, liaise with local
learner groups within the region and, once established, to elect representatives to the NLF. We feel regional
groups of learners are imperative to enable NLF representatives to represent more fully learner members;

 • NATIONALLY - to provide a national voice for COHSE learners on the many issues facing them, both within
the union and publicly to lead the campaign for the charter of learner rights.

The NLF is determined to achieve quickly an accurate reflection in its membership of the COHSE learner
population. This means actively seeking and encouraging participation from previously under-represented
groups such as ethnic minorities.

We intend to take a major role in promoting learner recruitment campaigns within COHSE and feel that offer-
ing a supporting and campaigning learner network will be a major attraction in the recruitment of new members.

 We also aim to co-ordinate and organise opportunities for education through a continual programme of national
workshops open to all learners.

 We intend to liaise on student affairs with the National Executive Committee and Regional Councils and to
work actively with the National Union of Students to promote learners' interests.

We anticipate taking a full and active role within COHSE and look forward to the COHSE organisation's full
support in this initiative.

The COHSE National Learner Forum was established in response to a demand from learners for a voice within the union to represent their special needs.

The forum consists of two delegates from each region of COHSE plus two members of under-represented ethnic groups. Primarily these delegates are learner nurses, but we wish to include learners from other health care professions - such as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and radiographers.

Since its inception the Forum has drawn up a
Charter for Learners. This charter is intended
to attract attention to these areas where we feel
our rights have been neglected and to declare
our intent to fight for these rights.

Our main aim, alongside the adoption of the
charter by educational establishments, is to
build a network of regional and local learner
forums to increase our quantity and quality of
representation and to support learners at local,
regional and national level.


The COHSE National (Student Nurses) Learner Forum believes all learners are entitled to the following

i) Fair remuneration - as a first step equivalent to at least the Trades Union Congress minimum wage threshold;

ii) The same employment protection and representation on disciplinary and grievance matters as other NHS workers;

iii) To appeal against examination/assessment failure in the same way as learners in higher education institutions;

iv) Opportunities to undertake clinical experience in training in an environment with adequate staffing levels and adequate support from qualified mentors/supervisors;

v) Access to designated independent learner counsellors;

vi) Security of tenure if renting accommodation from a health authority;

vii) An effective voice locally in order to influence decisions which affect their working lives (for example through a COHSE Learner Council);

viii) To opt out of training placements in the private sector where public sector alternatives are available;

ix) To act as accredited union representatives without harassment or intimidation;

x) Support and protection in the event of giving information through the appropriate channels with regard to malpractice(s);

xi) To join the trade union of their choice free from any undue influence. The NLF commits itself to do its utmost to ensure the achievement of the above rights.

The Battle to Save - St Leonards Hospital (Hackney)

Demonstration 26th September 1983

St Leonard's, (Hackney) Hospital Occupation 3rd July 1984 - 16th July 1984

In 1979 despite opposition in the form of a day of action and a a march attended by over one thousand people, St Leonard's Hospital (Hackney) A and E Department was closed.

By the early 1980's the future of the whole hospital was looking bleak, by late 1983 the Health Authority was actively looking to close the hospital under pressure from a Conservative Government keen to make cuts. A large rally was organised to oppose closure plans on 26th September 1983  addressed by Rodney Bickerstaffe  NUPE General Secretary and Tony Benn MP, 

At a Health Authority meeting to ratify the cuts and closures at Hackney Town hall on that day ( 26th September 1983) the Health Authority and its multi millionaire, Jockey Club chairman Louis Freedman were overwhelmed in a turbulent day of protest culminations in them being forced to abandon the meeting after the town hall surrounded by thousands of angry locals opposing the closure plans,   

As Millionaire President Louis Freedman refused to use his casting vote to settle the closure issue, demonstrates demanded increasingly vocally that he use his vote (To save the hospital) in his prevaricate to vote the doors to the Council chamber were barred and padlocked after a 20 minute stand off he was escorted out of the building with the help of local Labour MP Brian Sedgemore.

Freeman who lived in a central London penthouse and had private health insurance said in the Daily Mail "We might as well be living in a dictatorship"

The incident was labelled a riot in the Evening Standard and Daily Mirror, and while their was an attempt to keep the Board members in the meeting and to stop them voting in private, not one person was reported as being injured on either side.

The disturbance was carried on all the main news channels that night and newspapers the next day and ensured health moved nationally up the political agenda.

On the 7th June 1984 Norman Fowler, Tory Secretary of State announced his decision to close all wards and remove all beds at St Leonard's and leave just a first aid unit and  a handful of community based services.

 In response a small working group was established by the staff and Hackney health emergency  to look into the possibility of the 180 staff working at St Leonard's organising an occupation or work-in of the hospital

A decision was made to occupy the hospital on the 3rd July 1984

The occupation was ratified by a staff meeting of eighty staff on 4th July

But by the  5th July (NHS Day) the management had somehow managed to secure and issue writs and summons against the key stewards. As NUPE had not made the occupation official, and fearing an injunction (similar to that used against the Miners) NUPE officers removed NUPE placards and began to distance themselves from the occupation..
The legal situation must have been worrying for staff and the union,  because it was against the backdrop of anti union legislation which was still confusing and unstable. 
So on the 16th July management reposed the hospital, sending in security staff  and bailiffs (probably illegally) to end the occupation.

In the next three days management systematically interviewed staff and reps and suspended key stewards.

However, local trade unionists organised  a picket line has been maintained 24 hours a day outside the hospital and the drivers from the London Ambulance Station  refused to move the patients out

Not satisfied with victimising local  union representatives,and intimidating other members of staff involved in in the occupation, the management also seem to have gone out of their way to make life uncomfortable as possible for the patients remaining in the hospital (who refused to move, by threatening legal action).

After the Occupation was smashed and in order to proceed with their closure plans against management employed a whole private army of security guards.
This gang of mercenaries, as one local campaigner described them, cost the Health Authority almost £1,000 a day, money which was desperately needed to restore the crumbling services in the District.

There were also horrific reports of frail, elderly patients being bundled out in the early morning or late at night, driven to other hospitals, torn away from staff they knew and their possessions being sent on much later because they hadn't been told they were to be permanently moved.

So ended another brave attempt to defend the peoples health service in Hackney.


Hospital Closurers

Poplar Hospital closed in 1975
Metropolitan Hospital closed in 1976
Plaistow Maternity hospital closed in 1977 (after an occupation)
Invalid and Crippled Cchildren's hospital closed 1977
Bethnal Green Hospital 1978 (Occupation June 1976-Dec 1978) saved

Key NUPE People involved

Dorothy Hardon NUPE Area Officer
Ian Barber NUPE Area Officer
Jim Bewsher NUPE Area Officer
Harry Barker NUPE London Divisional Officer
Godfry Eastwood NUPE Asst London Divisional Officer

Morris Kollander NUPE Branch Secretary St Barts
Mike Gamble NUPE Secretary Group Six Hospitals

Geoff Craig NUPE Steward

Nurses Clinical Grading April1988

Guerrilla industrial action by nurses in COHSE and NUPE during 1988, lead directly to Clinical Grading (April) and while Clinical Grading had it protractors and many waited years for an appeal.

It represented one of the largest increases in pay secured by nurses since 1974, again the result of nurses action (Halsbury Nurses Pay Report).


SCALE A applies to posts where staff carry out assigned tasks involving direct care in support of  and supervised by a registered nurse, midwife or  health visitor.

SCALE B applies to posts where staff carry out assigned tasks involving direct care in support of a registered nurse, midwife or health visitor, regularly work without supervision for most of the shift or lead a team of staff at Scale A.

No statutory nursing or midwifery qualifications are seeded for posts at Scale A and B.

SCALE C applies to posts where staff provide nursing care under the direction of a registered nurse, midwife or health visitor, and participate in the assessment of care needs and the implementation of programmes of care. 
The post- holder is normally required to have second level registration.

SCALE D applies to posts responsible for the assessment of care needs and expected to carry out all relevant forms of care without direct supervision. The post holder is required to have first level registration or second level registration plus a recognised post-basic certificate or an equivalent level of skill acquired through experience.

SCALE E applies to staff responsible for the assessment of care needs and the development, implementation and evaluation of programmes of care and one more requirement which could be regularly taking charge of a ward, or a first level registration plus a further post-basic qualification.

SCALE F applies to posts with continuing responsibility for the management of a ward, or responsibility for the assessment, development, implementation and evaluation of programmes of care, plus one other from a list of qualifications.

SCALE G applies to posts responsible for the assessment of care needs, the development, implementation and evaluation of programmes of care and the management of a teaching ward or equivalent.

SCALE H applies to posts responsible for the management of more than one ward or equivalent where the post holder has to meet at least four out of seven criteria.

SCALE I applies to posts with continuing overall responsibility for the management of more than one ward or equivalent and required to meet seven out of 11 criteria.

COHSE Group 81

Initial Group 81 Leaflet 1981 COHSE Conference organised by Jim D (Bangour)

The first meeting was attended by numerous NEC members including an up and coming vice president Colm Robinson

Group 81 started off as a very broad 'Broad Left" with its primary objective to promote more democracy, transparency and address equalities issues.

Most of its founders ended up on the pay roll of COHSE as Hector MacKenzie  wryly pointed out.

Group 81 its self ended up rather to close to the ultra Left and many individuals left

Saturday, June 01, 2013



In 1992 PFI was implemented for the first time in the UK by the Conservative government of John Major.

In 2002 UNISON attempted to rally support at Labour Party and Lib Dem national conferences against PFI, both leadership (and also the Conservative Party) maintained support for PFI,  only at Labour Party did the motion opposing PFI succeed and was promptly ignored by the leadership


In July 1996 The health secretary was forced to admit that the expected influx of Private Finance Initiative cash into the NHS has fallen short by millions of pounds this year.

Under pressure from MPs at the parliamentary select committee on health last week, Stephen Dorrell blamed disappointing figures on 'teething problems, such as getting contract terms agreed'.

 Ministers looked to PFI cash to make up for 17% capital spending cuts by the government this year.

But Mr Dorrell was forced to admit that the £77m committed by the private sector was at least £70m
short of Treasury predictions. He blamed the figures on the failure of several projects to come in on time
but refused to give the committee a list of delayed contracts.

 'I do not think this would be useful,' he said. 'It is not reliable, as it changes  on  a  month-by-month
basis.  The  government  remains committed to the projects. It was inevitable it would take a long time.It is just like buying a new house.   

Unison national officer Alastair Henderson said: 'This is no surprise. It is illusory that the government is going to make up the [shortfall] with PFI.'

Nursing Times 17 July 1996