Southend Save NHS Campaign uncovers new NHS-funded scheme to accommodate hospital patients in spare rooms in a bid to cut costs

Media Release from Save Southend NHS campaign – Weds 25th October 2017

The Save Southend NHS campaign group has today raised serious concerns in the HSJ about a new privately-run enterprise called Care Rooms ( – an Airbnb style company which places discharged NHS patients in people’s spare rooms.

Through Care Rooms, the NHS pays private home owners “with no care experience’ up to £1000 per month to host patients who still require some medical support and would normally be in a hospital setting for the rest of their recovery or awaiting a place in an intermediate care or residential facility.

The supposed aim is to reduce the number of patients remaining in hospital, or other care settings, for the duration of their recovery. As a result, potentially vulnerable people may end up in unsuitable accommodation and being cared for people who have little training. The scheme also doesn’t appear to be regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The Save Southend NHS campaign has discovered that this cost-cutting scheme is being piloted in the Southend area as part of the Mid and South Essex STP (or ‘Success Regime’), and promoted by the Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust – with leaflets being handed out to patients and visitors in public areas of the hospital.

While we accept that there is a national crisis with DTOC as a result of chronic cuts to social care funding, the Save Southend NHS campaign is seriously concerned that this is a dangerous, unregulated scheme which could leave vulnerable people – who should be in a care setting appropriate to their needs, and being cared for by trained professionals – without the care they really need, all in the name of releasing beds.

A spokesperson for the Save campaign said:

“The risky and unregulated private Care Rooms scheme opens a huge can of worms for safeguarding, governance and possible financial and emotional abuse of people at their most vulnerable time”

“While we accept that there are issues with delayed transfers of care due to chronic social care cuts and underfunding, we do not accept that this is in the best interest of recovering patients in the Southend and Essex area. In our view, there is no room for unregulated, unprofessional AirBnB-style care in our NHS.”

The Care Rooms company is advised by former NHS England Director Mike Bewick – who co-incidentally is also the Independent Chair of the Mid and South Essex Success STP. This is just another example of our local STP attempting to cut costs at the expense of people’s care.


Here it is…

Now the London Anarchist Bookfair is over and having handed out all of the copies of the special bookfair edition we’d produced, here it is available as a downloadable PDF: We realise that not everyone is going to agree with our point of view…that’s okay… Constructive criticism and civilised debate are more than welcome:)

Reviewing our propaganda

This was how our propaganda looked when it was laid out on our stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday 28th October. It was gratifying to hear praise from people for how neat the stall looked and the way our literature is designed and produced, however…

If we’re being brutally honest with ourselves, when we look at what we produce and who reads it, we still get the impression that a lot of the time, we’re preaching to the converted. Given the remit we and our comrades in Basildon & Southend Housing Action have set ourselves, preaching to the converted is NOT what we want to do! What we do want to do is reach the disenfranchised people on the estates who know they’ve been abandoned, are pissed off about it but at the moment, don’t know where to turn.

One thing we’re becoming acutely conscious of is the existence of the digital divide and the fact that many of the people we need to reach on the estates do not have, or cannot afford, a reliable internet connection. Therefore the only way we can reach them is via the tried and tested analogue method of flyers and newsletters. Punchy, eye catching flyers, papers and stickers that will grab people’s attention and inspire them to act. As stated previously, we’re an evolving project and if we’re honest, we’ve still got a way to go before we can produce the kind of propaganda that will grab the attention of the audience we need to reach and mobilise.

We think we’re getting to the point we want with the split in the blogs after the demise of the Heckler and the setting up of the Stirrer, The Estuary Alternative and On Uncertain Ground. Granted, we had to do a fair bit of explaining at the bookfair to people who knew us in our previous guise as the Heckler but they did understand our reasoning for doing it as each of these blogs is way more focused. However, we really would like more people to be contributing to all three of these blogs…

It’s the printed material we produce that needs to evolve to the point where it does the job it’s supposed to do which is mobilising people who feel they’ve been abandoned by the system to start fighting back. Which means more in the way of experimenting and trying out new ways of writing, designing, producing and distributing our material to see what does and doesn’t work. The one constraint is the cost of printing. We spent £50 for a stall at the London Anarchist Bookfair and it could be argued that we would have been better off turning up as punters and spending the money for the stall on printing the flyers and stickers we need to get our message across. Which is most likely what we’ll be doing next year…

What we always have to bear in mind that our propaganda is a means to an end – namely stirring people up to the point where they will start to take action. Supported by our producing material that will facilitate that. Which means that if we’re producing something that isn’t getting the results we want, it’ll get binned or substantially altered until it does start delivering results…nothing is sacred…

We’re going to be at the London Anarchist Bookfair on Saturday 28th October

With our friends from Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA), we’ll be jointly running a stall at this year’s London Anarchist Bookfair. The venue is Park View School, West Green Road, London, N15 3QR and the bookfair runs from 10am – 7pm.

This is a final call out for our friends and supporters to come along and have a chat with us about the work we’re doing out along the estuary. As we’ve stated previously, while we adhere to anarchist principles, for a variety of reasons stated in the special edition of the Stirrer we’ve produced for the bookfair, we find it hard to feel that we’re part of a broader anarchist movement. That may be down to the somewhat fractured nature of anarchist activism at the current time. We may be naïve but we hope that this year’s bookfair might see the first steps towards some degree of unity with more of an emphasis on class politics…

We recognise there are anarchists who do not share our analysis or approach…we don’t have a problem with that. Achieving radical change requires a variety of different approaches, depending on the circumstances prevailing. Despite our having a reputation of sometimes being a bit stroppy, we’re actually willing to listen to different viewpoints and learn from the experiences of others. We also welcome constructive criticism and reasonable debate as well. However, what we do not welcome is intellectual point scoring on the one hand and sneering abuse on the other – if that’s all you have to offer, please don’t bother coming over to our stall!


A few posts back, we wrote about the frustrations that the Vange Hill Community Group and Basildon & Southend Housing Action (BASHA) have been having in dealing with Basildon Council and the other authorities and agencies who are (supposedly) responsible for the ¾ estate in Vange: At the risk of endlessly repeating ourselves… We made it crystal clear at the end of this post that both the Vange Hill Community Group and BASHA want a constructive working relationship with Basildon Council. After all, in theory, the council are supposed to be servants of the people and part of that should involve working co-operatively with local residents.

Well, it would seem that Basildon Council are in no mood to co-operate in any way, shape or form as you can see from the communications sent by Basildon Council below

This was sent to the Vange Hill Community Group:

Dear Xx Xxxxxxxx,

Many thanks for your further email. I am particularly keen to work with you, both individually and as part of the Vange Hill Drive community group.

Please combine your service requests into one email, sent to me weekly, to enable me to enact resources in the most effective way and to ensure that works are completed in the correct timescales. This is over and above what we would normally provide residents with, and I hope that this shows how committed I am to working with you to ensure that we can work towards a cleaner Vange Hill Drive estate.

Kind Regards,


…and this was sent to BASHA:

Dear Xx Xxxxx

I am writing to acknowledge receipt of the below email and to advise you that with immediate effect, the Council will only respond to one email per month from you. The email from you may contain a service request if it relates to your household only. Any further emails you send in will be acknowledged but no reply will be provided.

We have chosen to take this action as your contact with the Council is excessive and the content of your email (particularly cutting and pasting facebook messages and phrases such as ‘If you cannot do your job I suggest you fall on your sword and resign’) is found to be unnecessary. The Council’s limited resource is spending a disproportionate amount of time on dealing with your correspondence and cannot be maintained.

We will monitor your level of contact for the next three months and if no improvement is made we will further restrict your access.

Yours Sincerely,


Thank you Basildon Council, you’re about as much help as a kick in the nether regions! The offer was made to put aside previous differences, meet face to face and start to build a constructive working relationship – this is how the council responded. When we make political points about the system of governance we have not being fit for purpose, it’s not empty rhetoric – it’s based on bitter experience. Until power can be brought right down to the grassroots allowing residents to have real control over how their estates and neighbourhoods are managed, this is the kind of obstructive, arrogant conduct we have to deal with from those who claim they have the right to run our affairs…

Why always Canvey? Because local factors are given too much weight! Independence Now?

A short while back, we wrote this piece on the bid for Canvey Island to break away from Castle Point: Independence for Canvey Island! – This piece from the Canvey Green Belt Campaign blog offers a well researched argument as to why independence for Canvey Island is a viable option…

Two weeks on from the Canvey Community Meeting during which the matter of either Equal Representation, or Independence and a complete breakaway from Castle Point Council were raised, we await details of further progress.

The issue made the National Press and has received some barbed and ridiculing remarks from local councillors and from social media commentators.

Whether there is the legal possibility of Canvey Island becoming its own local authority, we would not claim to know, however in these days of so called “Localism”, the option or possibility is well worth exploring!


What we do know is that since the formation of castle point borough council in 1974, Canvey Island has provided the vast majority of the borough’s Housing Growth.

The census period since the formation of castle point indicates between 1971 and 2001 Canvey Island saw an increase in population of over 42%.  The Mainland saw just a 2.4%…

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Wasting millions again

SKIPP Press release (18-10-17)

So the cat’s out of the bag, Southend Council are to waste millions more of tax payer’s money in a vain attempt to rehash their long dead plan to devastate our sea front with a huge carbuncle that no one wants or will visit.

They have announced that they have employed yet another architect to design the dead donkey £80m plus cliff museum. Why the redesign? Well that’s simple, the planning permission for the original plan that cost our town millions in the first place, has now run out because no one in power or with money can be found to fund it despite all the council’s efforts

So here we go again, our social services are being cut, our roads are devolving into potholed farm tracks, our schools are crying out for money, but the Council has found millions to try an prop up their favourite vanity project. Well if we look at it from their point of view, it’s better to waste huge wads of cash rather than admit to the people they were wrong.

For 14 years our town’s greatest historic asset, the burial treasures of King Saebert has remained buried under council stupidity and arrogance, hidden away from the public and the millions of visitors that could already be coming to see them. For ten years the same stupidity has prevented them from even considering any other proposal, let alone SKIPP’s cost effective and highly popular proposal for a Saxon Great Hall Museum and educational experience on the brown field land in Priory Park just a few hundred feet from the burial site on Priory Crescent. This could have been earning the town serious money for all these years.

Let us hope that when the planning application comes up for consideration next year those councillors who sit on the Development and Control Committee have the guts to listen to the people and stand up to the Cabinet by refusing the planning permission and finally dropping the dead donkey.

At the risk of endlessly repeating ourselves…

We’d like to draw the attention of the relevant Basildon Council officers and the ward councillors for the area covering the ¾ estate in Vange to this list of posts we’ve written about the issues on the estate and the frustrations the residents are experiencing in trying to resolve them:

Stop moving the sodding goalposts!
Falling apart…an update:(
Admit it…you need us!
Doing it for ourselves (because no one else will!)
Evading responsibility
The fightback starts now

For a blog that has only been going since February and which covers an area stretching from Southend in the east to Dagenham in the west, this is a heck of a lot of posts about one estate! We shouldn’t have to be writing these posts. If Basildon Council officers, the local ward councillors, Essex County Council and both the Circle and Swan housing associations were doing their jobs properly, the ¾ estate wouldn’t be experiencing anything like the problems it has.

To all of the agencies and the ward councillors involved, we ask you to listen to the residents and don’t dismiss their concerns, fob them off with excuses, give them the runaround or treat them with contempt. Remember, you’re supposed to be the servants of the people, not their masters.

When things do eventually get done on the ¾ estate, all too often it’s been after persistent nagging and pressure that creates mistrust and bad blood between residents on the one hand and council officers, councillors and housing association staff on the other. It shouldn’t have to be like this. We know that both the Vange Hill Community Group and Basildon & Southend Housing Action would prefer a co-operative working relationship with Basildon Council, Essex County Council and the relevant ward councillors.

The offer is on the table… Forget about what’s gone on in the past, get round a table, talk the issues through face to face, show residents you’re serious about working in partnership with them and let’s make a new start with a clean slate. It shouldn’t be that hard should it?

Will the sorry saga of Orchard Village ever end?

This is the latest episode in the sorry saga of the botched, cheapskate Orchard Village development in South Hornchurch: ‘Planned maintenance’ means troubled Rainham estate will be without water again for six hours on Thursday

This is down to the estate’s water supply being pumped into an energy centre which also controls the estate’s power and heat – if this loses power, then everyone on the estate loses their drinking water. This particular energy centre is unreliable and keeps breaking down. Also, according to a study commissioned by Leeds University and Fuel Poverty Action, this is a seriously expensive heating system.

So, on top of all the other issues with Orchard Village: Building the slums of the future – we have a totally unreliable heating system which a) costs residents a fortune and b) leaves them without water when it’s being maintained. The distress caused to medically vulnerable residents without water and heating for hours on end doesn’t bear thinking about.

To add insult to injury, complaints from residents about power and water outages are met by Circle Housing, Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) and Essex and Suffolk Water all claiming they’re not responsible. As the experiences of our friends at Vange Hill Community Group and Basildon & Southend Housing Action have shown, Circle Housing have plenty of form when it comes to denying responsibility for a problem on one of their estates.

Seriously, you couldn’t make this up if you tried! The scary part is that with 3,500 new homes (mainly flats) proposed for the Romford Housing Zone in locations in or close to the town centre, if they’re built to the same crap standard as Orchard Village, we’re looking at a housing disaster. As we’ve stated many times before, the planning and provision of new housing has to be made fully accountable to local residents to a) ensure that what’s provided is genuinely affordable and b) it’s built to a high standard. However, as we have also stated before, it’s going to take a major political, social and economic change before this will be possible…

Independence for Canvey Island!

The Canvey Island Independent Party (CIIP) is pushing ahead with plans to break away from Castle Point Council. The CIIP holds 14 out of the island’s 17 seats on Castle Point Council yet feel the concerns and aspirations of the islanders are being ignored by the Tory controlled authority. See here for the full story in the Independent: Canvey Island pushes ahead with Catalonia-style bid for independence

Not a moment too soon we say… Canvey Island has just one main road leading off the island – the A130 Canvey Way leading up to the Saddlers Farm junction on the A13. There’s also the B1014 that crosses East Haven Creek and winds its way up through suburban Benfleet to the A13 at Thundersley. That’s it, just two roads off an island that’s currently home to 38,000 people. An island that’s below sea level at high tide and is home to a petro-chemical storage facility. In the event of tidal flooding or/and an incident at the storage facility that would necessitate evacuation of the island, it’s these two roads that would have to carry all off the traffic. These roads would not cope and there would be chaos…

This post from the Canvey Green Belt Campaign: Continued Development Necessary, for Canvey Island to Thrive Economically and Socially, despite the Hazards! eloquently deals in detail with the risks briefly mentioned above and argues that Canvey Island cannot take any more development. Now were not NIMBYs and realise that people have to live somewhere. However, it should be common sense to realise that when it comes to housing, Canvey Island is full up.

Yet despite the reasoned, thoroughly researched and eloquent arguments from the Canvey Green Belt Campaign, Castle Point Council continue to press for more housing development on the island. Presumably the Tories have done the maths and feel pretty confident they’ll continue to hang onto power, therefore they can get away with dumping on Canvey Island while ensuring the leafy heights of Benfleet, Hadleigh and Thundersley continue to stay that way.

There’s an honourable history of Canvey Island people standing up to the big oil companies to stop them building refineries on the island as this piece from The Canvey Community Archive relates: The Oil Refinery fight on Canvey Island in the 1970s Spoiler – the people of Canvey Island won their fight. As a bit of an aside, Wilko Johnson was on one of the demos and there’s footage of him doing this on the Julian Temple film, Oil City Confidential.

As anarchists, we support any initiative that’ll bring power closer to the grassroots and this one ticks enough boxes for us. Okay, it might not have the glamour of the Catalonian bid for independence (which is a matter of debate in anarchist circles) but as Canvey Island is on our doorstep, it would be rude of us to not offer our moral support to the CIIP.