Saturday, 14 January 2017

Grassroots Jeremy Corbyn Social Care & NHS should be public

I’m not interested in political posturing by any politician or trade union leader, what I want are policies that will address the brutal Austerity policies that are destroying public services, sacking workers and promoting privatisation at the expense of the workforce.

Nowhere is the brutality of austerity exposed than in social care services. For nearly three decades social care services have been undermined by the commissioning culture. The industrial scale outsourcing of social care services such as Home Care, residential & nursing care homes, day centres has struck dep into one of the most disadvantaged workforce's in our society today.

As a Labour Party member I am ashamed that the commissioning/outsourcing culture was encouraged and promoted by successive Labour Governments from 1997 onwards. Before I hear the screams about Sure Start centres, which I support, that doesn’t excuse what has been done to social care services by the mainstream political parties.

What is equally shameful is that national assault on the lowest paid has met no national strike. Instead it has been left to local grassroots union branches to try to fight alone a policy which is being driven nationally.

Back in 2007/8 our branch tried to fight with our Fremantle Care Workers draconian cuts to their Terms & Conditions and the subsequent cut to their Pension. Details of this campaign will be reported in my ‘Memoirs’ at a later date... Whilst some protections were won, the damage had been done and the new Terms & Conditions (appalling pay and no local government pension) for care staff are now in place.

Zero hours, travel time, working too much overtime (to make up the poor pay), lack of quality training, high turnover of agency staff are all symptoms of the ongoing attacks on social care provision through commissioning.

The trick with Commissioning, is that once they outsource, they quickly lose control over the quality of the service and in effect wash their hands of what happens to the workforce.
Was it short sighted or was it deliberate or do those in power not care when they promote commissioning?

My view is that Commissioning Fundamentalists know full well what happens. The Commissioners year on year cut the budget to the social care providers who then cut the staff Terms & Conditions and we wonder why we read about social care standards failing. I’ve even heard politicians being told that the reason there is an increase in the number of social care settings receiving a poor rating from Care Quality Commission (CQC) is that they are being more rigorous!

Too bloody right!

Anyone who has a loved one in a social care setting wants to know that the best care is being delivered. I’ve been a care assistant in a residential and day care setting and a social worker so I think I know a little about care and the standards which I personally believe should be enshrined within our Human Rights. By that I mean the actually care residents and services users are receiving.

The relentless attacks on social care provision by politicians promoting commissioning has got to end. I believe we reached a tipping point in social care over a decade ago, but now the ‘humanitarian’ crisis in the NHS has brought the critical need to do something urgently to the nation’s attention.

This is why I welcome the announcement by Jeremy Corbyn made on Saturday to the Fabian Society conference in London on

“So a Labour government would give social care the funding it needs and give a firm commitment to take failed private care homes into public ownership to maintain social care protection,” the speech says. “It’s the least we can do to guarantee dignity for people who’ve given so much to our country.”
(Guardian 2017.01.14. )

In Barnet we had an example where the above commitment would have been helpful.
In 2012, our Learning Difficulties social care services were outsourced to a company called Your Choice Barnet. Needless to say the outsourcing hit the rails within the first year and you can read the whole sorry mess here:

It led to a damning report by CQC.

You can read our response and demand for the services to be brought back in house

You can read a statement read by local Barnet Campaigner Barbara Jacobson on behalf of John Sullivan a Barnet resident and ardent campaigner for social care services

I leave with this message.  If we want to have a better future, a fairer society we need to work to take it back. Those in power are going to fight tooth and nail to stop us, because they will want to protect the ‘lucrative fat cat contracts’ which have flourished under successive governments.

I both marched and sang with the heroic Care UK 90 strikers in 2014,

To really know about their campaign you need to speak to the likes of Roger Hutt, Theresa Rollinson, Andy Squires, Dave Honeybone.

Their campaign became legendary.

They were outsourced and then the attacks came. I know that they have been handed over to another provider and the new staff are not on the same Terms & Conditions as the former NHS staff. I know the damage that was done by this fight and I know they would love to hear that their service along with all other NHS services outsourced would be brought back into the NHS under a Labour Government.

Building a grassroots movement
I want to hear more statements of what a Labour Government under Jeremy Corbyn will actually mean to the grassroots ordinary workers and their families and the communities they live.

We need bold statements we all understand and with which we can campaign on both in the workplace and on the doorsteps.

Let’s take back social care and make sure it works together with NHS services for the betterment of those in need and not ‘Fat Cat’ contractors.

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