Breast reduction is not of low clinical worth

Breast reduction is one of many operations the NHS is beginning to refuse to do on the basis that it is “of low clinical worth“. We challenge this. We believe this refusal is part of rationing of treatments, especially treatments for conditions where private health sector has been established. Moreover the My Choices scandal saw attempts to charge for these operations within the NHS itself. It is rationing care, funding the private sector and depriving those without funds of treatment that can stop pain and be life changing.

Continue reading “Breast reduction is not of low clinical worth”

Save the Green Spaces on Upper Parliament Street

We are pleased  to publish here a letter written by veteran community campaigner, and staunch supporter of Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital Campaign, Maria Oreilly

MariaMaria writes to protest the idea of building,  on the grass area immediately opposite the hospital and building high flats on this narrow strip of land. Please give Maria and the local community your support

To whom it make concern

Re Parliament Street Planning Consent June 2019

I wish to raise objection to the decision to allow the high rise development on the grass verge, lined with eco-friendly trees, opposite the women’s hospital and on the same side as  Princes School the brain injuries unit , which is  overlooking the social housing estate of pensioners’ bungalows and multiracial young families social housing homes.

I believe this decision  is flying in the face of all the policy development the council is beginning to look at re climate change  environmental and clean air, in addition, the council’s responsibilities for the health and well-being of its citizens  is compromised  by this decision

This is a  multiracial area  set in a beautiful natural  environmental setting  which contributes immeasurably  to air quality and the impact of air pollution on residents young children   young newborn babies  at the women’s hospital and disabled children and  the brain injury disabled  residents

Parliament Street is a busy road which already has pollution from traffic travelling into the city, industrial sites Renshaw’s and  Parliament Business Park which adds to traffic accessing the sites it is the main thoroughfare for traffic and busy bus route into the city centre. This street coupled with Georgian residential buildings and tree-lined green space  is both attractive and contributes much to the air quality

In 2018  I submitted a report from American environmentalists to the then chair of neighbourhood and communities cabinet member Steve Mumby and Cllr  Natalie Nicolas which gave scientific evidence of the damage air pollution caused to the neurological development of children and the negative effects on the elderly and those with chest and heart and lungs problems.

I circulated this document as  I was concerned for the children at school on Laurence Road which( besides being open to passersby to converse with the children, which is a safeguarding issue, due to inadequate fencing)  has little tree or greenery to combat the constant air pollution caused by traffic which constantly travels within 5/6 foot of the playground

This  American report raised serious concerns for the neurological development of children and its findings showed that those areas most affected were areas  of deprivation and were predominately those of minority African American and Latino schoolchildren  were schooled

I understand Cllr Noakes now has clean air  responsibility and in a city with a confirmed health  threat already to our lungs  and the fact that a baby  born today in Liverpool will have thirteen years less good health than  a baby born in Richmond  we should be concerned

About building on a green space in this location on Parliament Street, removing mature trees and increasing pollution the city council planning permission awarded for this development, despite opposition from residents local councillors and the scientific evidence in the council’s possession. This flies in the face of good governance, and the logic of policy debate on climate change and doesn’t show joined-up thinking across Cabinet. One thing laughing at the other?

I also wonder, as a matter of equal treatment of its citizens,  if Liverpool City Council  had decided to grant planning permission in  Allerton, as an example, for a  high rise block to overlook a settled  homeownership community, on one of their  tree-lined grass verges, destroying trees, overlooking homes, invading privacy, increasing traffic next to a school and a brain injury unit, and opposite a maternity hospital,  thus  increasing air pollution,  would it have sailed through without call in? There would have been protest at that, even without the additional scientific aggravating factors of the effect of air quality and neurological damage on children etc

I doubt you would have even considered it!!!!!

I believe this needs an environmental health impact assessment given its location and proximity to those with disabilities and young children and this development’s potential  impact raises important social and health factors  so serious that an equality assessment  is needed urgently as  it raises  a poverty issue, disability and race equality issues

I understand the three councillors for the ward have objected and that  Cllr Emily Spurrell planning committee objected along with residents,   the issues I raise add to these objections and should be cause to reconsider and rescind this planning decision.

Yours faithfully

MariaMaria O’Reilly



Is this acceptable?

Is press and publicity manipulation aimed at Labour Party Conference a suitable use of NHS money and time?

The local management of the NHS and Liverpool Women’s Hospital want fundamental and unpopular change. They applied for money to rebuild the Hospital on the site of the benighted Royal Liverpool University Hospital. Unsuprisingly they did not get the money.

The team behind these plans includes the local STP, the CCG, and the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Trust. To push these plans they have used the media in many ways. They claim that their media intervention was successful in reducing the imapct of our demonstration to Labour Party Conference in September 2018. “The impact of the demonstration march was perceived to be less than the campaign group’s previous activities”.

The state of the NHS, with under funding, privatisation, reorganisations in favour of big corporations, outsourcing, low pay, cuts in services and rationing of care is profoundly political, but interevening to affect a demonstation to Labour’s Conference is hardly aceptable even in that context. It is a questionale use of NHS resources.

More than our campaign’s entire budget will have been spent on this media offensive. This is taxpayer money that should have been spent on patient care, in a city with really poor health oucomes and where nearly twice as many babies dying before the age of one than the national average.

Our Campaign to Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital has large and widespread public support, and our campaign fundamentally disagrees with this plan. We want to keep a women’s hospital and to keep it on its current low rise and green site. We object to spending more than £100million on the project when women and babies in Liverpool face major health issues.

Our petition has 46,000 signatories, online and many more on paper. Our campaign has gained support from Labour Party branches and even Labour’s conference. Diane Abbott MP, Emily Thornberry MP, and Jonathon Ashworth MP (Labour’s spokesperson on the NHS) have all spoken at our demonstrations. The campaign is now in its 4th year.

We support the work of Liverpool Women’s Hospital. It has remarkable successes and dedicated, hard working staff. Most of Liverpool’s Babies are born at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, and it has many excellent services. We are aware of problems and difficulties, but LWH is well worth protecting.

In the context of the Climate Emergency and major concerns about air quality, putting the birth of the the majority of Liverpool babies in an air polluted traffic islnd and highrise blocks seems frankly ridiculous.

In key documents at the Liverpool Women’s Hospital Board Meeting on 2nd May 2019, this document ‘Strategic Aims and our Corporate Objectives 2018/19’ was presented.

Included in he report were these sections.
“..the need for a move, more decisively, to a multidisciplinary hospital site within 5-10 years.”
Commissioner support retained despite lack of success in STP Capital bid, with plans for a way forward being developed.”

Recent developments of note where these key messages were used occurred during September 2018 in advance of the Labour Party Conference. The Trust referred to the key messages to counter a planned demonstration against the plans for the future by a local campaign group. The Trust’s key messages received significant media, online, social media and public exposure with an overall average reach/audience for TV/radio/printed news of over 410k and an average reach/audience for LWH social media and website posts of almost 40k. The impact of the demonstration march was perceived to be less than the campaign group’s previous activities due to our proactive factual messaging and anecdotally the Trust feels that stakeholder understanding about our future is now more clearly understood as a result.

The board claim that;

Dialogue is ongoing with NHSE, MPs, councillors and other stakeholders to ensure the case for change is well understood”

So in this context they feel it is acceptable to pay for whole page adverts in free sheets and in the Liverpool Echo? Is it right to be putting forward a whole major media intervention?

When the plan to “move” Liverpool Women’s Hospital was first launched they ran a story about how dangerous it was ro transfer women to other hospitals but now somehow the figures for transfers, the main plank of the earlier media message, have dramatically dropped to just one!

We don’t deserve 34 years of ill health.

Women’s Health matters.

Liverpool and Merseyside need a Women’s hospital, focussing on improving the lifetime health of women from the womb to the grave. We need a health service that recognizes the needs of women. We must improve the lives and health of women in this city. A well funded hospital with a committment to the health of women could lead the way for other hospitals. This hospital could link up others with the aim of improving women’s health across the nation. Women spend more of their life in ill health than men do.

This is not, in any way, acting against men

As we come marching, marching, we battle too, for men,
For they are women’s children and we mother them again
Our days shall not be sweated from birth until life closes, 
Hearts starve as well as bodies, give us bread, but give us rose

 It doesn’t have to be this way.

Women tend to look after their health more than men do, so the difference is not from risk taking or deliberately unhealthy lives, even if some do take risks. Though women live longer than men do, they live in worse health for more of their lives. Women from poorer areas, like Liverpool, endure 34 years more ill health (You would get less for murder!) than women from more affluent areas. Women from poorer areas have shorter lives, with more illness and this is getting worse. Within Liverpool, life expectancy is 10.2 years lower for men and 8.3 years lower for women in the most deprived areas of Liverpool than in the least deprived areas of the city. That’s just within the city. The differences with wealthy areas of the country is even greater

 ‘The gap in life expectancy between women living in the most and least deprived areas has also widened, falling for women in the most deprived areas and continuing to rise for those in the least deprived areas.”  Professor Danny Dorling

It does not have to be this way, This is a long term Governmental choice to make the poor pay for their policies. Even the UN has described it with horror Each person who speaks out against this impoverishment begins to turn this terrible tide.

In 2015 a World Health Organisation Report showed that Life Expectancy of women in the UK was is the second lowest in western Europe. The UK is ranked 14 out of 15 nations; we need a focus on women’s health.

Healthcare is just one way we can help women’s health. We have also to fight low pay ( especially for mothers ) poverty, expensive and poor quality childcare. bad housing, pollution, stress and abuse. But in this storm what we have, we hold; we will not surrender the benefits earlier genserations have won for us.

There are many aspects of health treatment that are specific to women.

Teenagers still have major problems with periods and acne, some very serious problems. No contraception is perfect and some have side effects.

Mesh, breast implants have been the source of many scandals caused by profit seeking at the expense of women’s health.

Mental health is a major health issue for women. The same numbers of women and men experience mental health problems overall, but some problems are more common in women than men, and vice versa. Twice the percentage of women in work suffer (or admit to) mental health issues than men do. Some mental health issues are related to hormones and reproduction, some to poverty

Endometriosis1.5 million women suffer from endometriosis but it takes 7 years on average to get a diagnosis. That’s one in ten women in debilitating pain.

Heart disease is a major killer of women, more so even than the horrible breast cancer that ends the lives of so many of our sisters.

Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke are all diseases with distinct female issues.

We need research and focussed treatment. We need the research done at Liverpool Women’s hospital to be expanded. This hospital would give a great case for significant increases in investemnt if we can win the battle to get a government that respects its people.

We are in a politically driven storm of cuts, privatisation and destruction in the NHS. Full details can be found here. Having established the Internal market the privateers have now decided to privatise the service at the regional level. To garner the greatest profits for the large companies operating at this large scale, the NHS are bringing some services back in-house, so it will be more profitable from the very big US health care companies.

We are short of beds, short of doctors, nurses, midwives, and the myriad of professionals working in the NHS and the devoted ancillary staff. Poverty wages makes women ill, yet outsourced companies pay these wages to women and men who work in the NHS. Let’s hope the ancillary workers keep on fighting for better pay and conditions. They will have healthier lives and use the NHS less.

What we have we hold!

We must defend Liverpool Women’s Hospital and fight for more, much more investment in health. This is the sixth richest country on planet earth. There is wealth aplenty to fund the NHS.

What causes this extended ill health in women?

Poverty plays a part. Drug research based on men not women plays a part, the level of importance given to women’s health and unthinking sexism, also play a part. So do the physical facts of women’s hormones and of childbearing capacity, whether or not we have children.

We have specialist hospitals for many conditions; a hospital for women is deeply needed.

For all our mothers, sisters, daughters, friends, and lovers, we need a women’s hospital!

It’s for the babies too!

For each and  every one of our precious babies, we need an excellent world-class maternity hospital  In Liverpool. We must defend what we have and insist on improving it.

Liverpool’s infant mortality rate is at its highest level since 2010. ”Some 5.2 infants died per 1,000 live births between 2014 and 2016, significantly higher than the national average of 3.9 deaths per 1,000 births.”

IMR ( Infant Mortality Rate ) is used internationally as an indicator of the comparative wellbeing of nations. It is sensitive both to the socio-economic conditions affecting women of childbearing age and children; and the quality and accessibility of services for families. IMR continues to improve in most rich countries, with recent data showing that in countries such as Japan and Finland the IMR has dipped to only 2 per thousand.(3) In Liverpool, where some of us work, the infant mortality rate is now an unacceptable 6.8 – more than twice as high as London’s average.

In 2017 1 in every 225 births ended in a stillbirth. For every 1,000 babies born, 4.2 were stillborn, according to the Charity Tommy. Other babies die shortly after birth and still more have significant birth injuries.

 …mortality for the poorest infants in the UK is rising ( getting worse) every year since 2011. This is despite mortality continuing to improve in all other European countries, which often still benefit from very rapid improvements in health no longer seen in the UK.  The most recent rise in premature deaths is now leading to a situation where overall life expectancy could begin to fall for all groups. It is already falling in the poorest areas and for the poorest groups.

The Nuffield trust says “The UK has made less progress in reducing stillbirths and neonatal and infant deaths over the last two decades than many other developed countries”.

Sadly Liverpool Women’s Hospital has made saving on maternity this year despite this death rate “Maternity activity has reduced as anticipated and is expected to have deliveries in the region of 8,200 (2017/18 8,600). The service has reduced costs in terms of pay and non-pay and has also reviewed service income and costs as part of the “right size project” .

Is this the response we want to the news of increased deaths of babies? Surely the extra capacity could support women after birth far more effectively than they are supported now.

The NHS is not a democracy, nor is it socially or communally responsible. The NHS answers to Simon Stephens and to the requirements of their grand plans and privatisation. But camapigning does make some difference.

The big companies involved in the NHS have more and more say. Their purpose is profit.

The future of the  Liverpool Women’s Hospital is still unclear.Save Liverpool Women’s Hospital  campaigns for a fully funded NHS and for Liverpool Women’s Hospital to be upgraded on the Crown Street site.

The current management still favours a move that would cost at least £100 million. The April Board meeting said they were going to hold a clinical summit on this issue this summer. We call for a community summit too. The wishes of more than 50,000 petitioners cannot be ignored.

Liverpool Women’s hospital is inadequately funded by the NHS, as are many hospitals. Aintree, for example has major financial problems. There are underlying additional problems at Liverpool Women’s.

  1. The maternity tariff is still inadequate.
  2. The funding does not reflect the very specialist work that the hospital does. Birmingham CCG does recognize this for their women’s hospital, but not Liverpool.
  3. The NHS insurance system is difficult for all obstetric providers but Liverpool has a historic (and disgraceful) case, significantly inflating premiums.
  4. Most of these problems stem not just from inadequate funding, real though that is, but from the “Internal market” imposed on the NHS by wave 2 privatization.

The Liverpool Women’s Hospital makes decisions within the policies of the  Merseyside and Cheshire Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). This plan describes extreme reductions in spending.

It is our understanding that the budget of Liverpool Women’s Hospital is kept in balance by a subsidy from Transformation funding,“The control total now assumes receipt of £6.8m Provider Sustainability Funding (PSF) (including a £3.2m of bonus and incentive).which is dependent on the plan to move. Somehow we are meant to believe that the move will save money.

LWH also has to cope with damaging decisions like the withdrawal of bursaries from midwives and nurses training, and an inadequate number of training places for doctors in the whole country. Staff are consequently overworked and underpaid.

Women in the UK as elsewhere have a right to a long healthy life. But we are going to have to fight for it.

The NHS, though battered and bruised, is still worth the fight.

Staff keep the NHS going despite the privatisers, and despite the government.

Campaigners are winning some battles.

The strikers at LWH won, well done.

Well done to all who are fighting for the NHS, and especially to the victory in Ealing where plans for major closures have been withdrawn!  Let us hope these victories give courage to all who support the NHS and better the pay and working conditions for staff. Let Ealing’s victory give courage to all who fight for our hospitals. Campaign groups for the NHS are   growing. Come and join us!

The privatisation model this government and the NHS national administrators are working on is not just of making the sick pay for their individual treatment. That “patient pay system” is is starting in various ways, including charging migrants. Patient pay and refusal to treat without payment will get the biggest backlash. Right now, their kind of privatisation is more diverting the huge taxpayer spend on health into the pockets of big business.

Just one example of the shift from public wealth to private gain was seen in 2017 when NHS plasma supplies were sold off by Tories for £230 million, then sold on to a Chinese company for £820 million. Nearly £500million profit that was yours and mine, but went into private pockets.

The biggest privatisation of the NHS is underway. The break up of the national NHS into 44 STP or accountable care areas is a precurser to the privatisation of the whole system, a step further in the privatisation process than the contracts given out previously, huge though they were. Campaigners and trade unions face their biggest battles ever, Increasingly workers in outsourced companies are taking action against the privatising companies who are not meeting NHS pay levels, (and NHS pay is are low enough already).

We send solidarity to the strikers at HMRC cleaners and to AFG care workers whose nightwork pay has been cut.

The NHS was founded to be

  • Free at the point of need
  • Funded from taxation
  • A national service
  • Not for profit
  • A service for everyone; a truly universal service
  • A comprehensive service, providing the best available treatment for all

This original model of health care is the most cost effective and most
efficient form of healthcare service delivery in the world. It was responsible for dramatically improving women’s lives and reducing infant and maternal mortality. It is much less expensive, and more effective to the nation than the US insurance model. We cannot afford this government and the NHS national administrators who are closely linked to private companies. Out sourcing, PFI and financially unstable outsourcing firms like Interserve, are only good for the international health corporations.

There are real dangers in the cuts in funding that reaches the hospitals and primary health care;
The UK has also slipped down international league tables for infant mortality and is now 15th out of 19comparable countries”

In a recent study that compared access to and quality of health care in 195 countries by analysing ‘health care-amenable mortality’ – ie, mortality rates from causes that should not be fatal if effective health care is in place – the UK is ranked 30th out of 195 countries – its overall score was similar to Portugal and Malta but lower than comparable countries like Germany, The Netherlands, Spain and Sweden.

We also have fewer doctors per head of population than other comparable EU countries.

The number of beds in the NHS is dangerously low, as many readers will have seen with their own eyes;
The UK, for example, has 2.7 hospital beds per 1000 population compared to an EU average of 5.2 – far lower than Germany (8.2) and France (6.2) but similar to Ireland (2.6) and Sweden (2.5). Although this might be seen as a sign of efficiency (indeed the declining number of hospital beds in the UK has been partly due to medical advances that have shortened length of stay in hospital and a shift in the model of care that means people with learning disabilities, mental illness and the longer-term care of older people occurs in community settings) there are significant concerns about high levels of bed occupancy in hospitals and the problems this causes.”

Every NHS hospital in the land, and all public and community health services, require major new investment for day-to-day running.  Meanwhile much needed money is being squandered on outsourcing, PFI and privatisation.

Please get involved and fight for the NHS, fight against privatisation, for keeping NHS funding for the NHS, not letting it leak out to the private sector.