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Gloucestershire Victory for Our NHS

Monday 15th October 2012: Gloucestershire NHS campaigners were celebrating victory as Gloucestershire Primary Care Trust announced that the county’s 8 community hospitals and health services (including 3000 nurses and other health workers[1]) would remain in the NHS – reversing an earlier decision to outsource services, in what would have been the largest such transfer in the country.  
 
The board of NHS Gloucestershire voted today to create a new standalone NHS Trust, and to reject the option of opening health services up to private sector bids.  Locally this means staff and hospitals will remain wholly part of the NHS. At a time when many NHS Community health services elsewhere in the country are being tendered and taken over by private companies like Virgin and Serco, and when concern about the consequences of the recent NHS Act is increasing at the highest levels, it is also a decision with significant national implications, and the first decision of its kind The decision follows a hard-fought 18 month campaign by anti-cuts campaigners across the county, including a High Court challenge against the Primary Care Trust’s outsourcing plans by 76 year old Michael Lloyd of Stroud, who argued that NHS options for services had not properly been considered.  
 
Lawyers acting for Mr Lloyd obtained a court order in February 2012 halting the proposed outsourcing and requiring NHS Gloucestershire to go back to the drawing board and properly consider NHS options. In May, health ministers conceded and the PCT accepted what campaigners had always argued - that creating an NHS Trust was an option, and that there was no legal requirement on local health bosses to put services up for tender. The court order had also required NHS Gloucestershire to consult staff and the public – consultations which resulted in 91% of staff, and 96% of the public, voting for the services to be run by an NHS Trust Michael Lloyd, 71, a retired railway-man from Stroud, said:
 
 “I am delighted by today’s decision. I can remember what life was like before the NHS existed, and we cannot allow a return to the fear and poverty that ill health brought in those days, and indeed still brings in the American market-based system.  Our NHS is too precious to be handed over to anyone on a political whim, nor should it have to compete against private providers, who are only interested in maximising their profits. The public, and the staff who provide my healthcare, should have been consulted in the first place, so I’m very pleased that our voices have been listened to at last.”
 
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