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NHS campaigners to rally at Stroud Hospital - Press Release 22/08/2016

Monday, 22 August 2016 08:11
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NHS campaigners to rally at Stroud Hospital - Press Release 22/08/2016

Contact: James Beecher 07734 058789 - This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

  • ·        Organisers Stroud Against the Cuts to be joined by District and County Councillors from the Labour, Green, and Liberal Democrat Parties at Stroud Hospital from 7pm on Monday 22nd August.
  • ·         Battle against withdrawal of 24 hour opening at Minor Illness and Injuries Units (MIIUs) in Stroud and Cirencester, reduction in opening hours at MIIUs in the county
  • ·         Campaigners worried about future of urgent care and other health services in the county as NHS faces multi-billion funding gap and increasing privatisation

Campaigners from community group Stroud Against the Cuts – who successfully fought to prevent Gloucestershire’s community health services being privatised in 2011/12[1] – will hold a rally outside Stroud Hospital on Monday night 7-8pm[2] as part of ongoing campaigns to ‘defend the NHS’. The latest event is spurred by plans to withdraw 24 hour opening of the MIIUs in Stroud and Cirencester and reduce opening hours at MIIUs in the Forest of Dean.[3] Gloucestershire Care Services, which runs seven district hospitals in the county, is asking people to chose between 3 options – each of which will see Stroud and Cirencester MIIUs close at 8 or 11pm. Stroud League of Friends are recommending Option 2, which would keep Stroud MIIU open from 8am until 11pm. David Miller, Chairman of Stroud Hospital League of Friends, said in a letter to the Stroud New and Journal: “Ideally we would like to continue opening for 24 hours but if this is unacceptable then at least until midnight.”[4] Meanwhile, over 1,000 people have signed Stroud Labour Party’s petition to “Ensure 24 hour, urgent care is provided at the Minor Injuries Unit at Stroud Hospital”.[5]

People attending the rally will hear from members of a variety of organisations and political parties. As well as James Beecher from Stroud Against the Cuts and regional officer for Unite the Union Jo Galaska, speakers will include Dursley Cllr Doina Cornell from the Labour Party - Stroud District Council’s representative on Gloucestershire County Council’s Health and Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Stroud County Councillor Sarah Lunnon (Green Party), and Cllr Joe Harris, Liberal Democrat County Councillor for Cirencester – who has collected 1,484 signatures on a petition to “Keep Cirencester Hospital open overnight”.

James Beecher, spokesperson for Stroud Against the Cuts said: “The proposed cuts in opening hours at MIIUs in Gloucestershire including Stroud are the latest example of government attacks on our healthcare services. We fear for the future of local healthcare services. We’re holding this rally not only to challenge the MIIU changes across the county but to highlight the crisis the government is causing in the NHS and to begin organising to resist the dramatic changes to come as local health bosses work behind closed doors on their plan to deliver Gloucestershire’s share of £22 billion of cuts. We worry that our Out of Hours care and community health services could end up in the hands of a private company - like local non-emergency patient transport. Services must have enough well-trained staff to provide high-quality care but the government seems intent on making staff shortages worse with pay cuts, attacks on junior doctors, and the scrapping of nurse training bursaries.”

Stroud Labour Party Vice-Chair Debbie Hicks said: “Closing this vital service for the community overnight will only put more pressures on NHS services at the A&E at Gloucestershire Royal. This is a local service that local people rely on heavily. We must do all we can to make sure patients in Stroud have access to care 24 hours a day.”[6]

Promoting the Cirencester petition, Cllr Harris “This will move will have an negative effect on vulnerable people in particular who struggle to get around, one resident told me the other day that due to staff shortages at the hospital she had to pay £70 for a taxi to Gloucester.”

Notes for Editors:


1 Stroud Against the Cuts was formed in 2010. With other anti-cuts groups in Gloucestershire, it campaigned successfully against plans to hand Gloucestershire’s community health services to a private company (a so-called 'social enterprise') or conduct a competitive tendering exercise over who would run the services. Across the South West, handovers of similar services to 'social enterprises' did take place. Peninsula Community Health (PCH) - one such body - announced it would not extend its contract in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, blaming a "challenging financial climate", and more recently it has emerged that Virgin are set to take over these services in Bath and North East Somerset – from social enterprise Sirona which has run the services since 2011..

[2] A Facebook page for the NHS rally suggests at least 50 people will attend.

[3] The proposals form part of a "Review of Minor Injuries and Illness Units in Gloucestershire" that is being conducted by Gloucestershire Care Services (GCS). You can download/read the booklet online in pdf form: MIIU information booklet (pdf). The booklet outlines the reasons for change to the existing services and the three options to be discussed. "Discussions with the public" will take place till 31st August, with a final decision being made by the NHS Trust at its board meeting on 20th September 2016. GCS say that feedback received will be compiled into an outcome report and used to inform a new operating model for MIIUs that will begin on 1st October 2016.

[4] Stroud Hospital League of Friends’ letter is available on the Stroud News and Journal website.

[5] 494 people have signed the online version of the Stroud MIIU petition at time of writing, with the total number including signatures on paper versions reaching 1,095 by the afternoon of Saturday 20th.

[6]Save Our Minor Injuries Unit”, published on, 29th July 2016.


Letter on future of urgent care in Gloucestershire to Stroud newspapers

Thursday, 18 August 2016 12:59
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Dear Editor,

Let’s be clear: the reduction in opening hours of Stroud Minor Illness & Injuries Unit is a cut in service. It goes against the core NHS principles of universal, comprehensive, easy to access care.  

Already in Stroud we have fought unwise and expensive attempts to privatise our local district hospitals. Other local NHS services have been handed to private companies - non-emergency ambulances to Arriva; hospital pharmacy services to Lloyds. Cheltenham A&E was downgraded to a Minor Injuries Unit overnight. In 2014, Dursley’s Vale Hospital opening hours were reduced.  Susan Field (then Director of Service Transformation) said that cut was partly about “enabling us to keep the MIU service at Stroud General Hospital running 24 hours a day.”[1]  Now Stroud MIIU hours will be cut as well.

Unsurprisingly, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Trust has been missing the target to treat 95% of Accident & Emergency (A&E) patients within four hours every month for a year.

What have Gloucestershire Care Services and the Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group done to assess the impact of changes to MIIU opening hours on Out Of Hours and urgent care services in Stroud and Gloucestershire? Local Out of Hours provision is already in turmoil as the NHS trust currently providing the service has said the constraints of their contract mean they cannot continue to do so effectively (with the service having been closed for 560 hours at The Dilke, and 195 hours here in Stroud in a single year).[2]  We need answers.

Of course, services must have sufficient staff to provide safe, high-quality care. Ultimately, attention must be directed to the national context of sustained government attacks on the NHS - including a pay freeze, cuts to training and the scrapping of nurse training bursaries, and the attacks on junior doctors - that are producing financial stress, constant re-organisation, privatisation of services, and demoralised doctors and nurses retiring early, leaving the profession, or emigrating. Nurse's pay, for instance, has fallen by at least 14% in real terms thanks to the government's public sector pay freeze. RCN Chief Executive, Janet Davies, says the current shortage of nurses was “a preventable crisis, caused by years of cuts to student nurse commissions and a lack of long-term workforce planning”.[3]

We fear for the future of local NHS services under the latest round of reorganisation:  Like other areas, Gloucestershire is currently working on a ‘Sustainability and Transformation Plan’ behind closed doors, to deliver its share of a £22bn cut in funding, that will involve “the consolidation of unsustainable services”
[4]. In other words, services will be closed - potentially soon. Nationally, 14 A&Es were closed or downgraded between May 2010 and October 2014.[5]  Last week Grantham A&E in Lincolnshire cut its opening time by 14 hours[6] for three months.

We need to ask, what makes these services ‘unsustainable’? Political decisions, wasting billions on a needless expensive system of markets and competition to give the private sector a toehold, and a destructive attack on the NHS’s most precious asset – it’s workers.

How can Neil Carmichael say he supports Stroud Hospital, whilst supporting all this?

We encourage anyone who can, to visit the Trust’s Information bus from 10-11.30am on Monday 22nd August on King St – and to sign the Labour Party’s online petition to “Ensure 24 hour, urgent care is provided at the Minor Injuries Unit at Stroud Hospital”, which can be found at

Yours sincerely,

Stroud Against the Cuts

[2] SWAST said: “within the current contractual constraints, the trust does not have the resources to improve the service to a level that is satisfactory” - Patients faced with closures of out-of-hours GP services”, Gloucestershire Live

[4]Strengthening financial performance and accountability in 2016/17”, NHS Improvement, 21st July 2016 (page 10 of pdf linked on page)

[5] Dozens of maternity and A&E units shut”, The Telegraph, 26 October 2014. In June, two community hospitals in Derbyshire were earmarked for closure. Chorley Hospital in Lancashire was ‘temporarily’ downgraded in April, but recently announced it will not be reopening as an A&E as planned in August (“Chorley Hospital A&E unit to remain closed over doctor shortage”, BBC New Lancashire, 28th July 2016)

[6]Grantham A&E opening times slashed by more than 14 hours”, Lincolnshire Echo, 11th August 2016


Save our Hospitals - campaigning for Stroud's Minor Injuries Unit and urgent and out of hours care in Gloucestershire

Sunday, 07 August 2016 13:24
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Gloucestershire Care Services are proposing to cut the opening hours of the Minor Injuries and Illness Units at Stroud, Cirencester and Dilke and/or Lydney Hospitals - closing Stroud and Cirencester overnight. There are major questions hanging over Stroud Hospital, Out of Hours healthcare and provision of Urgent Care in Gloucestershire after these changes, with the government's massive cuts and secretive plans for reorganisation of the NHS threatening the future of District Hospitals.


Join our Rally at Stroud Hospital - defend our NHS - 7pm Monday 22nd August. Read our letter to local papers on the future of urgent care in Gloucestershire.


Stroud Labour Party have organised a petition to "Ensure 24 hour, urgent care is provided at the Minor Injuries Unit at Stroud Hospital". At time of writing they have collected over 500 paper and online signatures. Meanwhile 1,481 people have signed Liberal Democrat councillor Joe Harris’ petition calling on NHS bosses to keep Cirencester's MIIU open 24hours. We at Stroud Against the Cuts have attended two engagement sessions locally, and have begun leafletting about these changes - as we will on Saturday 20th August (meeting 10am High St/Kendrick St) and Monday 22nd August (meeting 10am Kings St). Please join us at our Rally at Stroud Hospital on Monday 22nd August at 7pm. Contact James Beecher on 07734 058789 for more information.


The proposals form part of a "Review of Minor Injuries and Illness Units in Gloucestershire" that is being conducted by Gloucestershire Care Services (GCS). You can download/read the booklet online in pdf form: MIIU information booklet (pdf). The booklet outlines the reasons for change to the existing services and the three options to be discussed. "Discussions with the public" (not a formal consultation) will take place till 31st August, with a final decision being made by the NHS Trust at its board meeting on 20th September 2016. GCS say that feedback received will be compiled into an outcome report and used to inform a new operating model for MIIUs that will begin on 1st October 2016. A short video produced by Gloucestershire Care Services explains:

On Monday 22nd August 10am-11.30am, GCS will have an bus in King St with information and an opportunity to respond. In addition to the petition above, you can respond to the "engagement exercise" via a reply-paid card available from community hospitals, engagement events, GP surgeries, libraries, or else by completing the online survey (we also have copies of the cards and the information booklets available - contact us via This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ). 

Alongside this review and engagement exercise, Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (GCCG) is perparing a strategic reviews into Urgent Care. GCS say that any outcome for our MIIUs may be subject to further change in light of this.


With Cheltenham A&E already downgraded to an MIIU overnight, and the A&E at Gloucester Hospital struggling to cope partly as a result, Stroud Against the Cuts believes these closures are unacceptable. We also feel it is essential to place these cuts in the national context, with Government policy producing the financial stress, fragmentation and falls in morale among healthworkers that is resulting in these closures.

Most recently, the hospital sector is being increasingly bullied by NHS England and local Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) to take drastic steps to address an end of year gap between funding needed and that provided of £2.5 billion. The latest instrument to be adopted to achieve drastic "efficiency savings" and cuts has been the reorganisation of the NHS since the beginning of the year into 44 "footprint" areas. Each of these areas has been required to draw up a Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) - to make cuts over a 5 year period. Health Campaigns Together has established an STP Watch page on its website collating information. John Lister, who took part in our recent weekend of NHS events in Stroud has written an article which explains: "Is the new 'collaboration' in the NHS merely a way to make cuts?" A national conference has been called for September 17 in Birmingham, where we hope campaigners from across the country will share and develop their understanding of the STPs, the plight of their local NHS, and the responses that have worked.



Media coverage: 

"Petition launched to keep Stroud Hospital's Minor Injuries Unit open overnight" - Gloucestershire Live

"Massive Cuts to minor injuries units in Gloucestershire" - Gloucestershire Live

Last Updated on Saturday, 20 August 2016 00:01

Our Open Letter on new parking system at Beeches Green Health Clinic - to PropCo and ParkingEye

Saturday, 16 July 2016 12:56
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Dear PropCo and Parking Eye, [the former manages land at NHS sites, the latter
is the company contracted to run parking systems at Beeches Green]

Re: Installation of number plate recognition equipment at Beeches Green Health Centre in Stroud, Gloucestershire, GL5 4BH.

We are a Stroud-based community action group and we have received a number of complaints regarding the new parking system at Beeches Green. We have sent the following to PropCo and Parking Eye.

We would like to register our disapproval – we believe the new system is unnecessary and is resulting in unfair and unjustifiable impacts. Neither patients nor people who work in NHS/Social Care at the site should be forced to pay to park.

Staff in the various facilities at Beeches Green report many patients – daily - complaining of confusion regarding the use of the registration machines, many unsure if they are meant to be paying or registering for free parking. The signs are complicated and the two sections of car park (free/paid) are not clearly defined as separate - those with literacy problems may have difficulty with the signs (1% of the population are illiterate and 4% severely dyslexic). Many patients have paid unnecessarily due to fear of charges from Parking Eye and many more have simply not realised that they had to register, resulting in fines. For a several weeks, the pay machines were broken – with several people being fined as a result due to their not having access to the mobile phone app which was presented as the only alternative way to pay.

We have spoken to members of staff who tell us that they had never received reports of patients being unable to park under the previous system, though parking was sometimes difficult. When parking became difficult in the past, the caretaker was very successful in preventing non-NHS users from leaving their cars at the site.

The new system does not only prevent non-NHS users, but also excludes users and staff of services relating to the new Redwood building and the mammography unit. Previously, many of the people working in this new building were able to park within other parts of the estate. As a part of the NHS, users and staff of the breast screening unit were also able to park for free. Now we have a system where staff and users of some – but not all – NHS and social care services have to pay to park. This has led, amongst other things, to the breast-screening unit moving to a site further from the town centre, creating inconvenience and confusion for those accessing the services.

We request answers to the following queries:

Please can we have sight of the impact assessment carried out prior to installation of the new system?

Please can you explain why those using the Blue Badge scheme have to pay for parking when they use NHS services not within the older health centre or podiatry unit?

Please can you clarify the legal basis for escalation of parking charges (a £100 charge is threatened if £60 is not paid in the first two weeks)? Can you confirm that it is the case that the number plate recognition cameras/computer will record length of stay and that fines should be comparable to the applicable rate for parking?

Please can you provide details of the cost of the installation and its up-keep vs the cost of using a car park attendant?

Yours sincerely,

Stroud Against The Cuts
Last Updated on Saturday, 16 July 2016 12:59

Celebrating the anniversary of the NHS - press release

Friday, 01 July 2016 15:56
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Press Release 01/07/2016 - Stroud Against the Cuts

Campaigners to celebrate 68th birthday of NHS

What: Celebratory gathering with 1940s music, open mic for tributes and speeches, facepainting, ‘NHS colours’ theme

Where: Pocket Park, next to Trinity Hall, opposite Stroud Hospital

When: 6-8pm Tuesday 5th July, photo-call 6.30pm

Contact: James Beecher – 07734 058789 | This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Following a weekend of events exploring the past, present and future of the NHS held at Stroud Valleys Artspace last week, community group Stroud Against the Cuts are holding a small gathering to celebrate the anniversary of the founding of the NHS on 5th July 1948, and are inviting people to attend to share stories of their experiences.

The event comes as the overnight closure of the Minor Injuries Unit at Stroud Hospital, and parking fines at Beeches Green Health clinic are regular features in local news, and as questions arise over whether funding for the NHS will increase as hinted by the successful Vote Leave campaign.

Earlier this year, NHS doctors took historically unprecedented strike action and Gloucestershire has recently seen the A&E at Cheltenham downgraded, non-emergency ambulances handed over to private company Arriva to manage, and some NHS pharmacy services now handed to Lloyds Pharmacy. Nationally, waiting lists are up and there are widespread stories of access to and quality of treatment declining.

James Beecher, one of Stroud Against the Cuts organisers’ said: “On the NHS’s birthday we’ll be celebrating its founding principles and its importance to healthcare provision. It is necessary to have a health system that enables access to healthcare when you need it, provided by well-trained, well-rewarded workers. We want a health system that provides comprehensive, high quality care – promptly and universally, and paid for in the fairest way – through progressive taxation. To be affordable, such a system will need to be publicly owned and run – which is far more efficient. All of this has been under threat in recent decades, but it has rarely been more important than now that we come together to defend and extend the NHS.”

Recently the group held a weekend of events featuring international health policy expert John Lister, a Corporate Watch workshop on researching the private companies taking over the NHS, and advice for health and social care workers, as well as film screenings, music and comedy. Stroud Against the Cuts led a successful campaign in 2011/12 to defend local community health services from privatisation, and is set to launch a petition against the parking fines and arrangements at Beeches Green.


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