Council Cabinet Committee – Local Health Services

I would like to refer our members living in Barnet to item

7. Healthcare for London consultation on Stroke and Major Trauma Services

This all comes on top of the recent announcement that a judge has overturned the previous decision to allow a Judicial Review into the closure of 24 hour A&E and maternity services at Chase Farm Hospital. See press release here

It is well documented that we have a growing & ageing population; which makes it all the more important that we have the necessary infrastructure in place and the best place is local. In relation to Strokes everyone knows that positive outcomes are determined by how quick you receive treatment, any delays are just not acceptable. I would suggest any Barnet residents reading the article take the matter up with the local MP immediately.

Tales from the Private Sector – Ashes to Ashes?

Angry workers occupying their workplace sounds like something from the 70’s (or a scene from the BBC 1 series Ashes to Ashes!)… but it happened and not too far away…Enfield in fact. 


The workers at Visteon UK, formerly a part of Ford, about 560 of them, were made redundant without notice. They had contracts mirroring those of Ford workers, but, with Visteon going into liquidation, will only receive minimal statutory redundancy terms. They are upset and angry, and have done the only thing they could that would get them a hearing: refused to leave their former workplace. Their demand: better redundancy terms (not much to ask for after years and in some cases decades of loyal service).

When the Trade Unions say they are concerned about any staff being transferred out of Council ownership you don’t have to look too far away to see why.

Future Shape – We want…

We want to talk about service improvement, we want to talk about service efficiencies, we want to talk about working closer with our partners in public services, we want to talk to residents about improving their experiences of public services. We want council staff to be given the chance to utilise their skills and expertise to improve outcomes for Barnet residents.

We want to work with the Council… when can we start?


Useful discussion on Newcastle success story

Today some Barnet staff had the chance to speak to Hilary Wainwright ( author of ‘Public Service Reform – But not as you know it’ a real story about how Back Office services in Newcastle fought off a bid (with the support of Dexter Whitfield) from BT to run their improved City Services. Dexter who is supporting the trade unions here in Barnet helped along with Hilary to answer questions from staff on what happened.

Our branch along with some of our trade union colleagues will be arranging a visit to Newcastle shortly. We have extended an invitation to our Chief Executive and members of his senior management team.

We hope to meet the Newcastle Chief Executive and the senior management team to listen to their approach to trade union/staff and resident engagement.

Future Shape – When will we learn our lessons?

Members will be familiar by now with the name of Fremantle & their partner Catalyst Housing

Read excerpt below

“8.2 In 2006 and 2007, two ‘Deficit Claims’ were received from Catalyst; both were subsequently rejected by the Council, and in 2008 these were formally referred by Catalyst to Arbitration. Given the size of the substantive claim, the Council’s legal advisers have recommended that an expert who has experience of outsourcing the management of care homes be appointed by the Council, to give evidence as to how an experienced provider should manage the Care Contract, to support the Council in the preparation and presentation of its case by Counsel and other consultants.”

Find the whole report online here


I am one of the few still around from when the decision to privatise all our care homes and day services was made. It was clear that councillors were rushed into an ill thought out decision that has now back fired. Those Officers responsible have long gone……isn’t it always the case!

In terms of the report it is good news that the Council is seeking expert advice to support them with the arbitration process. Whatever the outcome of the decision valuable resources have been wasted over the last couple of years just dealing with the claim. If there is one lesson to be learnt it is don’t rush into decisions without making sure you have robust procurement and contract monitoring.

Money wasted on trying to clean up badly procured contracts is a waste of public money…money we are told we don’t have.

Five months ago the Trade Unions submitted a report on suggested improvements to our Procurement and Contract monitoring…we are still waiting to begin discussions.

Future Shape – ‘Quick wins’ begins

It has been widely reported that the Trade Unions are being consulted throughout the Future Shape process. The Joint Trade Unions want to make it clear that they have had no part in the decision to privatise these services

Last week the Trade Unions were informed that Cemetery & Cremations services were going to be privatised (read public report here

Pages 74 – 80

The background papers can be found here

10.1 London Borough of Barnet – Barnet Cemetery and Crematorium Option Appraisal – October 2008 – Sector Projects)

The Consultants were Capita. Their report was conducted between August and October last year. Yet the Trade Unions and staff were not told that the report was being conducted?

The report was written before the recession.

Do you remember this?

This appeared in January 2009 as part of Phase Two of the Future Shape. Cems & Cremas are clearly defined as a Quick Win. Clearly someone knew something the Trade Unions and staff didn’t.

Cems & Crems Timeline

August – October 2008 Capita Report produced (Trade Unions & staff not informed).

January 2009 Cems & Crems appears described as a ‘Quick Win’ in Future Shape Document

14 April 2009 TU’s told for the first time that a report recommending privatisation of Cems & Crems is going to Cabinet Resources Committee

23 April 2009 Cabinet Resources Committee make a decision on Cems & Crems


The Trade Unions are seeking an urgent meeting with the Director responsible for these Services


Future Shape – What do you want?

There are currently Seven Future Shape working groups looking at how public services could be configured in the future. Whatever the outcome of these meetings it is going to mean change. In the case of Future Shape it could mean significant change for you as staff.

It is no secret that a number of models of service provision are being looked at and ultimately costed.

This should be no surprise to public sector workers. In the 80’s and 90’s we had contracting out of public services under Thatcher & Major. The colour of the government changed but under Blair & Brown (New Labour) we have seen an increase in privatisation of public services. The difference with New Labour is that instead of the using ‘privatisation’ they used ‘outsourcing’ and introduced the friendly cuddly third sector i.e. voluntary bodies and charities. In Barnet we have seen a disastrous model of privatisation using the ‘third sector’. Our older people homes and day services were taken over by Fremantle & Catalyst. Not content with decimating our members’ terms & conditions they have only provided 3 out of the 5 brand new homes they were supposed to provide. To top it off they are in Arbitration over a claim against the Council for £8.672 million!

We expect the Groups will be looking at

  •  Privatisation
  • Joint Ventures
  • Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs)
  • Social Enterprises
  • In house services

For each service they will look at the above models and see if there is a business case. The Trade Union concerns are how these business cases are costed. This is not rocket science. The biggest cost to all Services are staff costs i.e. your terms & conditions. It is now widely acknowledged that the privatisation has meant a deterioration in terms & conditions and pensions for staff.

We are literally two months away and we have not been able to discuss these issues. We are concerned that if any business cases are presented to Cabinet on 8 June or any other Future Cabinet that they have to include TUPE Plus and Secondment costings.

TUPE does not protect the workforce after transfer which is why we submitted our employment charter to the Council in September last year. 

Make sure you make time to come along to the public  

Lobby of Barnet

Council Cabinet Committee on

8 June 2009


Future Shape – Barnet residents we want to hear from you

You are probably aware that the Council is consulting on Future Shape. It is looking at a ‘new relationship between the council and its residents:’ (for reference click on this link go to p.g 81 for full article).

Two quotes which stand out

“For Barnet, the real prize is in re-shaping public services across the borough, which is why we are looking at ambitious proposals for the future shape of the council itself.”

This is no ordinary consultation, this is about ALL public services (including NHS, Middlesex University, Barnet College, Police) in Barnet. Before the recession, public sector spending has always been subject of scrutiny and debate. Central government and local government arguing over whether sufficient funding has been allocated.  

The recession is here and whilst we wait to see if the G20 come up with any solutions…public services still need providing.  

One of the obvious savings would be to create a Barnet Public Services organisation which would make efficiencies of scale and may improve Barnet residents experiences of public services.  

 “There have been many voices encouraging us to jump to conclusions too fast over the last six months, which would result in either poorly thought through recommendations or insufficiently radical thinking.” 

This second quote is sober reminder not to rush into big decisions which could have serious ramifications for public services in Barnet. The Trade Unions concerns are that the current proposals need much more time if the Council & their partners want to avoid ‘poorly thought through recommendations..’ 

But what do residents think?

The Trade Unions with the critical support of Professor Dexter Whitfield will be tabling a report for the Future Shape Cabinet Committee on 8 June. Our members want to deliver better services to residents. If this consultation leads to real improvements for residents then it will have been a worthwhile exercise. We believe residents need to be given an opportunity to give their ideas/opinions for such radical proposals.  

If you have ideas on how public services across Barnet could be improved please email the Barnet UNISON branch at

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