Whitstable Campaign: Carnall Farrar take millions from NHS England

Scandal’s implications

Many thanks to Diane Langford and Julie Wassmer, two Whitstable activists who, through hard work and persistence, were able to expose a regional scandal in NHS spending with distinct national implications.

What they discovered was the use of NHS funds to pay consultancy firm, Carnall Farrar, over £6 million for barely 18 months work.

Add to this the fact that Dame Ruth Carnall, a former NHS executive, and partner in Carnall Farrar, was, at the same time, also the Independent Chair of the Programme Board of the local Sustainability & Transformation Plan (STP) – one of 44 regional bodies put in place by NHS England to implement cuts within the NHS – and you can see that there is a conflict of interest here.

If £6 million has gone to just this one firm in just one region, how much more is disappearing in the NHS as a whole?

It took these two doughty women over a year to dig out the truth, making numerous Freedom of Information requests, a lengthy and time consuming process.

There are several notable things about this story.

Firstly, that NHS Trusts are obliged by law to register all payments of £25K and over, and yet these sums paid to Carnell Farrar were not recorded. The explanation was that the STP was ‘not an organisation’ and therefore had no obligation to publish its payments.

Secondly, that it took two independent campaigners to discover this. When the women first approached the Trust they were told that the figure was £2.2 million. It was only with the help of research organisation Spinwatch that they were able to show it was at least £6.05 million, and possibly more.

Finally, that the story has hardly been touched by the press. The only national paper to take it up was the Morning Star. No other print paper has seen fit to publish it and it has not been reported by the BBC or any other broadcast medium. The only other report of the issue appeared on an independent website.

Why is the government encouraging health managers to fritter away millions on unaccountable management consultancies? With such a lack of transparency, it’s no wonder our NHS is in trouble.

NHS march on Downing Street, 03/02/18


From The Whitstable Gazette 01/02/18

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Whitstable Views: Letter to the Whitstable Times

Letter to the Whitstable Times by John Ledger 22/03/17

My Response to Apathy and Resignation

In reply to John Ledger’s letter (Whitstable Times 22/03/17) can I just say that I agree with him entirely?

If we do not change we are going to die as a country.

Which is why I was puzzled by some of his more ill-informed opinions.

Take the Post Office for instance. It is, indeed, dying on its feet. However this is not a natural process. It is entirely down to policy decisions having been made by successive governments.

The Post Office and the Royal Mail were once part of one seamless postal service. You bought your stamps from the Post Office and had your letters delivered by the Royal Mail.

Since then, of course, the Royal Mail has been privatised. But in order to do this, the government had first to deal with its liabilities.

Its pension scheme, which had been deliberately run down by the company in the early part of this century, and the Post Office, which has always made a loss, were taken on by the government, while the profitable part, the Royal Mail, was sold off on the cheap to its backers in the City.

This is known as “privatisation of profit, socialisation of cost” and is the means by which all privatisations are effected.

The same thing is happening to the NHS right now. Prior to the Health and Social Care Act 2012 (which laid the foundations for privatisation) all NHS regions were in surplus. Now all but one of them are in deficit. (See graphic, above).

Mr Ledger is right to say that the NHS will not survive under these conditions. Just like the Royal Mail it is being deliberately run-down in order to hand the cheap-to-administer parts over to the private sector, while the tax payer is left to deal with what remains.

What this will inevitably mean is a two-tier system: a sleek, slick, shiny new part for those who can afford it, and a run-down, over-worked, stressed-out rump for the rest.

The reason why the system was good in its day, as Mr Ledger says, is that the burden of cost was shared by the nation as a whole and not loaded on to the individual. This was the very essence of the post-war consensus which gave us more than 30 years of prosperity, security and increasing living standards.

So yes, Mr Ledger, you are right: we are a much different country now. It’s the post-Thatcher neo-liberal consensus that has ruled the game for the last 40 years, leading to stagnating living standards, greater insecurity and more inequality as a consequence.

None of this was inevitable. All of it is due to deliberate policy choices, and if we don’t change soon, as Mr Ledger says, “we are going to die as a country”.

Christopher Stone.

Whitstable People: Phil Cartwright

Cancer doesn’t have to be a full stop. See it as a comma

Most of you will remember Phil Cartwright, Canterbury City Council’s answer to Clint Eastwood.

He was the Labour Councillor for Whitstable till 2014, when the party deselected him.

I worked with him a couple of times, on the Post Office issue, and on the campaign to keep our delivery office open in 2012.

Friends of his will know that he recently had an operation to remove a cancer from his bowel.

He told me that he saw the object during a pre-op scan. It was like a giant chick pea, he said.

The good news is that the operation was successful, the cancer was removed, along with its blood supply.

The bad news is that one of his lymph nodes still has cancerous cells showing, which means that he has to undertake a course of chemotherapy, which he describes as like a mopping up operation.

I must say, for a man who has just come out of hospital after having had cancer, Phil is looking remarkably well. He’s lost a lot of weight, his skin is translucently healthy, he has a spring in his step and a sparkle in his eye.

I went to see him and his wife, Dee, to talk about it. He tells me that he doesn’t want me to make out like he’s a hero battling cancer. He didn’t choose this fight. He says: “I want people to understand that fear gets in the way.

“I’m not brave, just too busy getting fit and ready for the chemotherapy to work.

“Too often people look on cancer as a full stop. It’s not. Thanks to modern medicine it’s hardly a comma in a lot of cases today.”

There are still moments of trepidation, of course.

He says that fear is like an unwelcome relative; but the worst of it is the feeling of being in limbo, of being in other people’s control.

He’s writing a blog about his progress, to which the photographer, Steve Woods, will be contributing pictures.

The blog is called “SHH… IT HAPPENS…” and is on wordpress: http://wp.me/P8yP6Y-2

I’m sure that Gazette readers will want to wish him a speedy recovery.


From The Whitstable Gazette 20/04/17

The editor welcomes letters on any topical subject, but reserves the right to edit them. Letters must include your name and address even when emailed and a daytime telephone number.

Send letters to: The Editor, 5-8 Boorman Way, Estuary View Business Park, Whitstable, Kent CT5 3SE

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