/ E-petition: Search and Rescue Privatisation

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E-petition here: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/45283
PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE!

The UK Government is currently looking to replace the existing Search and Rescue (SAR) service, run by a combination of RAF, Royal Navy and Coastguard helicopters, with a privatised version. At the moment the UK Government is seeking companies to tender for the contract. As taxpayers we already pay for the existing SAR service, and if privatised we will pay for the new one as well, albeit the work will be carried out by a private contractor. To me it is a dangerous and unnecessary move. Unfortunately, as this was proposed by Labour and is now being pursued by the Tories, I’d say it was likely that this will be implemented, unless there is a real uproar caused amongst voters themselves, as happened with the proposals to sell off woodlands in England and Wales.

Privatisation has never been the greatest success in this country. When private companies and shareholders become involved we have to ask, will corners be cut to maximise profits? Worse, what will happen if that company goes bust? No rescues while in administration? Virgin Search and Rescue? Or God forbid Easy Rescue! “Sorry sir, your rucksack is over the baggage allowance limit. Would you like to pay £50 to upgrade to our all inclusive rescue package, or will we just leave your bag on the mountain?”

We have an outstanding search and rescue helicopter service paid for through taxation. We are now being asked to accept a substitute service, still paid for by taxation, that many people, particularly within MRT and SAR itself, feel is off a lesser standard. That’s the real issue, and there’s a danger that in the confusion of the debate, that we lose sight of that, and the military SAR at the same time.

In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells: Hmm....as a regular mountain goer and member of the Armed Forces, your pitch leaves me very divided. I'm as against privatisation as much as anyone else, and where there is change in a system, there is uncertainty and disruption, yet part of me thinks that frankly the Armed Forces's already overstretched and under-resourced pilots and helicopters are needed elsewhere far more urgently than for doing SAR in the UK.
muppetfilter - on 06 Feb 2013
In reply to nickinscottishmountains: Maybe the armed forces shouldn't have spent the last week arseing about on the slopes of Serre Chevalier playing ski racers ... To my knowledge Al quaida aren't very active in the Alps.
The tens/ hundreds of thousands of pounds this cost could have gone elsewhere where lives could have been saved.
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:
I'm ex services myself. SAR is an obligation we must fulfil under international maritime treaties, and I think that when those working within SAR and MRT say it is a bad move, I'd tend to agree. When you consider the experience those crews gain (and which we would lose) from taking part in real operations rather than training exercises.
What worries me is that in a few years time, having accepted a privatised service, they start to introduce fees and charges.
timjones - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:
> (In reply to nickinscottishmountains) Maybe the armed forces shouldn't have spent the last week arseing about on the slopes of Serre Chevalier playing ski racers ... To my knowledge Al quaida aren't very active in the Alps.
> The tens/ hundreds of thousands of pounds this cost could have gone elsewhere where lives could have been saved.

So where did you go for your last holiday?
muppetfilter - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to timjones:

> So where did you go for your last holiday?

I dont get paid to go on Holliday at vast expense to the British Tax Payer...
Edradour - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:
> (In reply to nickinscottishmountains) Maybe the armed forces shouldn't have spent the last week arseing about on the slopes of Serre Chevalier playing ski racers ... To my knowledge Al quaida aren't very active in the Alps.
> The tens/ hundreds of thousands of pounds this cost could have gone elsewhere where lives could have been saved.

As a member of the military I tend to agree with muppetfitter here. In a way, anyway. The military cannot bleat about having no money and how important it is for the defence budget to go up when it continues to spend vast amounts of money on things like skiing champs which have very little real benefit to the military.

I know the arguments for it are teamwork, fitness, etc etc etc but a game of football achieves the same end. Every year people ski for 2-3 months at virtually no cost to themselves and I don't think it's right when things are so tight elsewhere, with lots of people being made redundant etc etc.

And why the military continue to fund OTCs etc is completely beyond me,

timjones - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to muppetfilter:

I'm not sure sure that pay them an awful lot even after your add on the odd trip like this!
RCC - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells:

> ....RAF, Royal Navy and Coastguard helicopters, with a privatised version.


You do know that the coastguard helicopters have been operated under contract for years don't you? Perhaps privatisation isn't quite as bad as you think.
muppetfilter - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to timjones: Tim, every single one of those I spoke to on the lifts were of senior ranks, also the tannoys for "Major" ..."Captain" lead me to understand these weren't the average under paid squadie but the very well paid ranks so they would be paid quite a lot for a trip like this....

When we hear that the army hasn't got sufficient budget for correct desert kit I think it sits badly to see tens of thousands of pounds worth of high quality ski shells and racing lycra suits not to mention the ski workshop set up in the underground carpark of my Hotel...
ScraggyGoat on 07 Feb 2013
Where to start.......well perhaps:

http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?t=484374&v=1#x7181990

1) you're petition is probably to late to be considered
2) The process has gone so far now, that for it to be stopped on political grounds at this point would leave the sea king helicopters, which are well past thier sell by date operating for several more years, while the gorvernment tries to buy replacements. We know how good the MOD are at large procurement don't we............
2) The governments intention is to privatise SAR-H, not SAR in general, which you post doesn't make clear till the last line.
3) The MRT's in the NW highlands haven't had any significant problems from the contracted coastguard service so far.
4) The issue now is to ensure that the contractor, whoever that may be, is duty bound to provide sufficient cross-training with MRT's (and other ERS)to be conversant with what they need/can to do differently with a bigger 'bird' and to ensure that the MCA bureacrats who will be managing the service don't just have thier gaze ...'out to sea'.
Snoweider - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells:

I haven't made up my mind either way on this, and believe that its a very complicated issue, and I don't think I understand all the ins and outs, but recognise that the current situation cannot continue as the Seakings are knackered.

The aircrew that I have spoken to all consider it to be a positive move for them personally as it will provide a well paid job doing what they love without getting rotated round to Afghanistan on a regular basis. it will basically be the same guys in the air.
In reply to Edradour: Eh?!! You don't even know my position on skiing trips in the Forces! I agree totally - I don't support these skiing trips.
Edradour - on 07 Feb 2013
In reply to nickinscottishmountains:
> (In reply to Edradour) Eh?!! You don't even know my position on skiing trips in the Forces! I agree totally - I don't support these skiing trips.

I was agreeing with Muppetfitter (who I think replied to you). Someone else disagreed with him. Didn't mean to offend - sorry.

Rock Badger on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to nickinscottishmountains: Are the armed forces really overstretched, where else are these helicopters needed, fighting a bullsh*t war. Surely since we all pay their wages the least they can do is run SAR in our own countries, helping to protect and save our own people. It must give them great experience and practice flying in some gnarly conditions. So rather than chopper pilots flying pretend practice missions wasting heaps of fuel and resources they could be running our SAR, i know id be alot happier knowing that some of the extremely well trained pilots that we pay to train are going to be flying SAR choppers that we also pay for. Not having a go, just my opinion
mypyrex - on 08 Feb 2013
In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells: Signed and passed on to others.
mypyrex - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells: I would think that the only people who would benefit from this are the Richard Bransons of this world and the insurance companies. Also, what are the chances of a flip-flop wearing day tripper on Snowdon who, for whatever reason, comes to grief being insured for SAR?

Scenario, Joe Bloggs lying in agony at some crag, helicopter winch man, card reader in hand: "just enter you PIN please sir"!
fmck - on 09 Feb 2013
In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells:

I don't know if it will work. But! It seems to me it will be cheaper.

In 1984 I got air lifted off the hill (Ben) due to someone else's mistake. I think it could be done cheaper as there isn't the "oh well lets wait n see" instead there will be " let's retreat to the car park till we see a change"

Profit against budget is always the way to go.
pebbles - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells: it seems the scummy bunch of bastards calling themselves the coalition have gone and done it anyway.

http://news.sky.com/story/1069686/uk-helicopter-search-and-rescue-ops-sold
IainRUK - on 25 Mar 2013
In reply to mypyrex:
> (In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells) I would think that the only people who would benefit from this are the Richard Bransons of this world and the insurance companies. Also, what are the chances of a flip-flop wearing day tripper on Snowdon who, for whatever reason, comes to grief being insured for SAR?
>
> Scenario, Joe Bloggs lying in agony at some crag, helicopter winch man, card reader in hand: "just enter you PIN please sir"!

Thats just alarmist...

TBH I'm pretty open minded.. pros and cons.. I know one pilot who just wants a safer chopper.. as at the moment he says the sea kings are on their last legs.. and we can't afford new choppers..
Philip on 26 Mar 2013
To the OP. I think you misunderstand what privatise means. This is not privatisation. This is contracting, just like the public sector does in many other areas.

Far better to pay for a proper service than rely on a fringe benefit of the military S&R facility.
Trangia - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Philip:
> To the OP. >
> Far better to pay for a proper service than rely on a fringe benefit of the military S&R facility.

You mean a service like that provided by G4 for Prisons and policing national events like Olympic Games?

IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Trangia: So we keep it in central.. buy new helicopters.. where does the money come from? Divert it from the NHS? Transport? Schools..

Then people complain about underinvestment..

Its very alarmist at the moment. I've not actually seen a sensible argument about why this is a bad thing, too much of 'we'll need money for your rescue'..

I think the reality is little will change.

The sea kings were on their last legs. And the country is pretty much broke. Obviously things remaining the same was the perfect scenario but that wasn't an option, and it was hugely uneconomical.

I'm not convinced either way, but most responses I've seen have been reflex reactions.

All I know is just chatting to a pilot, he'd become increasingly concerned about the saftey of the SK and was happy to see them finish.
Neil Williams - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

"So we keep it in central.. buy new helicopters.. where does the money come from? Divert it from the NHS? Transport? Schools.."

No scope to take finance to buy new helicopters, or to lease them, while keeping them staffed by the Forces, then?

Neil
aultguish on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
So why just 'Forces' pilots then?
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to aultguish: I'm not sure what you mean. But I suspect we'll see many of the same pilots take up posts with the new S&R.

IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Neil Williams:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
>
> "So we keep it in central.. buy new helicopters.. where does the money come from? Divert it from the NHS? Transport? Schools.."
>
> No scope to take finance to buy new helicopters, or to lease them, while keeping them staffed by the Forces, then?
>
> Neil

As said I think they will still be staffed by similar people.. just transferred over.

I'm not totally in support of this, I'm pretty much on the fence, but do think the Gvmnt had to act and their hands were pretty much bound.

I also do think a lot of the country see S&R as a luxury for climbers/walking just doing liesure activities. We know thats not the case, they do a lot for public in general from car crashes to floods.

But politically at a time when there's huge cuts to carers and welfare, I'm not sure they could risk banging a good few million down to buy new choppers.
Trangia - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells:

Wasn't one of the arguments for the RAF retaining Search and Rescue facilities for dealing with crashed military aircraft which might contain secret equipment the government wanted to avoid falling into the "wrong" hands?
dissonance - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to Trangia) So we keep it in central.. buy new helicopters.. where does the money come from? Divert it from the NHS? Transport? Schools..

The Bristow group are doing it for free? Thats remarkably kind of them.
Or just possibly might they be being paid for those helicopters plus profit?

The same argument was the one used for PFI for hospitals. That worked out nice and cheap for the tax payer didnt it?
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dissonance: How did I say that..

But its less money up front. This was purely an economic decision..

Of course. Wow sherlock. Jesus incredible. private company wants profit.. your insight is incredible.

Come on...

Its about who takes the risks and who puts up the initial capital. If it was cheaper, with less cash needed now, it would have stayed central.
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dissonance: And also, we can't lay this on the Tories. This was exactly the kind of thing Blair pushed for and labour started this process.
dissonance - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:


> Of course. Wow sherlock. Jesus incredible. private company wants profit.. your insight is incredible.

Sigh, i was simply pointing out how dumb the claim was about not being able to afford it. The government is still paying and then heaping the profit etc on top.

Plus if you are talking about up front costs, you do know the government can borrow cheaper than a private company?
I could also point out the weakness in the whataboutery when talking about schools and hospitals which are also funded by that method and have now resulted in high costs and poor service and long lock in.

> Its about who takes the risks and who puts up the initial capital. If it was cheaper, with less cash needed now, it would have stayed central.

ermm, not necessarily. Again see PFI and many similar decisions.
dissonance - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to dissonance) And also, we can't lay this on the Tories.

f*cking hell who said that? Yes Labour started this approach, again we have got such good value for money from similar schemes havent we?
MG - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dissonance: There plenty examples of failures and successes in private and public provision for services. Surely the more general point is that S+R for sailors and mountaineers, isn't obviously a military matter. In which case contracting it out may be a good thing.
dissonance - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to MG:
> (In reply to dissonance) There plenty examples of failures and successes in private and public provision for services. Surely the more general point is that S+R for sailors and mountaineers, isn't obviously a military matter.

since it has been for years I am not so sure what is not obvious about it, particularly since the skills needed are those the military needs anyway. I am guessing that they wont be borrowing some of these helicopters for the next war?

Denni on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to count:
> (In reply to nickinscottishmountains) Are the armed forces really overstretched, where else are these helicopters needed, fighting a bullsh*t war. Surely since we all pay their wages the least they can do is run SAR in our own countries, helping to protect and save our own people. It must give them great experience and practice flying in some gnarly conditions. So rather than chopper pilots flying pretend practice missions wasting heaps of fuel and resources they could be running our SAR, i know id be alot happier knowing that some of the extremely well trained pilots that we pay to train are going to be flying SAR choppers that we also pay for. Not having a go, just my opinion



How else are they supposed to train for war other than flying practice missions? You could say the same about any profession. Surgeons, don't give them practice theatres to train for operations, just let them crack on and make it up as they go along.

Paramedics, don't bother giving them expensive equipment to train with with, let them second guess when something actually goes wrong. Well you get the picture. You need to train in actual situations in order to do your job. Costs a lot of money but there is no other way. Not having a go, but in order to do a job you need to train for it and because you do so much training, it costs a lot.

I have no idea about Bristow other than what I have heard on the radio. Seems they operate on a global scale but my only worry is that the pilots will not have the gumption to say "f**k it, shouldn't be doing this but we won't let someone die" I'm not saying they should or indeed it is that dramatic all the time but the current UK SAR teams go above and beyond what is expected of them and I'm not sure that this will happen with a different system. Time will tell and I'm sure we will have a thread in years to come along the lines of "SAR refuse to fly due to snow" or "SAR go on strike due to dangerous operating conditions"
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dissonance:
> (In reply to IainRUK)
> [...]
>
> f*cking hell who said that? Yes Labour started this approach, again we have got such good value for money from similar schemes havent we?

It was on one of the other threads.. that it was this coalitions work..

It probably suited their thinking, but it started under Labour.

I do think in the long term this could be a good thing. I also don't understand todays outcry.. how many threads.. 3-4..

This has been on going for 7 years.. quite transparently. Jim Fraser has been providing updates pretty consistently.. people starting to protest now is just way too late.
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Denni:
> (In reply to count)
> [...]
>
> I have no idea about Bristow other than what I have heard on the radio. Seems they operate on a global scale but my only worry is that the pilots will not have the gumption to say "f**k it, shouldn't be doing this but we won't let someone die" I'm not saying they should or indeed it is that dramatic all the time but the current UK SAR teams go above and beyond what is expected of them and I'm not sure that this will happen with a different system. Time will tell and I'm sure we will have a thread in years to come along the lines of "SAR refuse to fly due to snow" or "SAR go on strike due to dangerous operating conditions"

There are plenty of times the current S&R back out of situations though, and there are of course plenty of times they don't, but I don't think these pilots currently have a f*ck it attitude to their own and crews safety.

Actually with new choppers will their ability to fly in poor vis increase?

RCC - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> since it has been for years I am not so sure what is not obvious about it...


Has also been 'privatised' for years too. MCA have contracted out SAR helicopters for decades and have maintained a very capable service.

Neil Williams - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to aultguish:

An entirely different ethos to commercial ones.

Can you imagine the idea of a privatised Fire Service run by contract to the cheapest bidder?

Neil
ads.ukclimbing.com
dissonance - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

> I do think in the long term this could be a good thing. I also don't understand todays outcry.. how many threads.. 3-4..

ermm, its a standard reaction to confirmed news.

> This has been on going for 7 years.. quite transparently. Jim Fraser has been providing updates pretty consistently..

yes, have been reading them.
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dissonance: I just don't think it is news. Once a process like this has gone as far as this did the only news was who won the contract, no if a contract was to be awarded.
Denni on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:

Good point Ian, I have no idea what they will use so they may be more sophisticated, still need a pilot good enough to operate it though but I suppose like most things, just have to wait and see.

PS, enjoying Germany?
IainRUK - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Denni: Aye.. ups and downs.. learning the language.. worked out they aren't all saying 'cheers' to me.. but Tchuss...

But enjoying seeing new areas, new people etc..

It'll be interesting to see what happens pilot wise.. the current system was a rotation. I wonder if many will want to jump across and be permanently in one spot. Currently they can be off in the falklands for 6 weeks blocks. hard with young families.

Surely the RAF will need to offload some anyway..
RCC - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Denni:

> Good point Ian, I have no idea what they will use so they may be more sophisticated, still need a pilot good enough to operate it though but I suppose like most things, just have to wait and see.


Bristows has some very good pilots too, and many with a lot of SAR experience. Ask the average fisherman in the Hebrides what they think of their pilots and helicopters. It would probably go a long way to easing your concerns.
Denni on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to RCC:

Cheers mate, will have a look on the net to see where they currently operate and what they get up to :)
Slugain Howff - on 26 Mar 2013
Slugain Howff - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to IainRUK:
> (In reply to dissonance) I just don't think it is news. Once a process like this has gone as far as this did the only news was who won the contract, no if a contract was to be awarded.

Totally agree - not really news at all just the end of a long period of consultation which started in 2006.

s
dissonance - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to RCC:

> Bristows has some very good pilots too, and many with a lot of SAR experience. Ask the average fisherman in the Hebrides what they think of their pilots and helicopters.

i thought it was another company there at the moment, at least for the next few months.
RCC - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to dissonance:

> i thought it was another company there at the moment, at least for the next few months.


It is (CHC?), but Bristows held the contract for a number of years and did a very good job.
Simon Caldwell - on 26 Mar 2013
In reply to Trangia:
> You mean a service like that provided by G4 for Prisons and policing national events like Olympic Games?

No, a service like that provided by Bristows for the last 30 years or more.

Saying that all private contractors are like G4S is a bit like saying that all Trade Unions are like the RMT...

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