The Future Fit Consultation results are in. Well who won?- We all did! The results showed only one incontrovertible fact. Both Option 1 (consolidating our region’s A&E and the woman and children emergency services to Shrewsbury’s RHS) and Option 2 (consolidating our region’s A&E and the woman and children emergency services to Telford’s PRH) are supported overwhelmingly by those living closest to the option that retains these emergency provisions. The public of Telford and Wrekin, the public of Shropshire and of Powys all want their Health Services to be close at hand and fear the consequences of downgrading and consolidating our Health provisions will be to make access more inconvenient, costly and dangerous. But incredibly the Future Fit Board, meeting in private, have agreed to ignore our views expressed in this expensive consultation in order to make our Health provisions cheaper to run. Our MPs and Councillors cannot let them get away with this and must insist that they yield to the democratic will of the people. This is radical surgery to our region’s NHS services and will affect generations to come and so we need to get it’s development and expansion right. We all have to ask ourselves whether these unelected bureaucrats (with their credibility and competence being challenged repetitively by inspectors, investigations and MPs) should be allowed to ignore ‘the people’ who clearly reject their proposals?
So T&W Council might be undertaking the biggest ‘U-Turn’ in its history. Shaun Davies has tweeted that ‘Future Fit should be ditched’. This seems to me to be a vindication of the strategy of forcing politicians like Shaun Davies to commit themselves to progressive positions by threatening his cherished Council brand. The latest fiasco of him trying to position himself as SaTH’s friend by providing free accommodation is purely presentational – SaTH have the money to provide free accommodation (from the £5 million set aside for outsourcing services if the PRH is closed over-night) but it is convenient for both to be seen to be working together for the common good. For SaTH it relieves them from damaging criticism and for T&W Council it creates valuable headlines about the Council rallying the community to support the NHS, and who could argue with that? But this compact now seems to be unravelling. When Future Fit was first proposed over 4 years ago as a remodelling project to create a local Health provision that would be workable and sustainable over three decades, it was conditioned and justified around the apparently ‘irrefutable fact’ that there is an inherent recruitment problem. Working with SaTH, Telford and Wrekin Council our ‘amateur health administrators’ seem to unearth an inconvenient truth when they claim that they ‘Know’ that there are sufficient staff available to plug the gap and allow the PRH to remain open. This puts SaTH in a dilemma because, if they acknowledge that overnight closure of PRH’s A&E is no longer necessary, they are condemning both the competency of SaTH (who should have sourced these solutions years ago) and of Future Fit, all built around the ‘Fact’ that recruitment of consultants to this neck of the woods is near on impossible. Allowing T&W to peek under the veil was a big mistake that they must be mightily regretting.
What Crisis ….
The threat to close our A&E overnight in November is a threat that the hospital administration has been making for months because they can’t get the nurses and doctors to safely staff the A&E. All I can say is that their HR recruitment team should be looking through the jobs pages. Recruitment to our neck of the woods shouldn’t be harder than finding staff in inner cities and other really hard sells! The CQC inspectors imposed on SaTH (Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals) an urgent enforcement order for unsafe procedures and there is a Government enquiry into maternity care that is looking into 120 infant deaths from the year 2000. So it would seem that our hospitals are not fit for purpose let alone Fit for the Future. SaTH bosses should be resigning in their droves. And yet we still have our democratically elected representatives, almost to a person, accepting that this whole discredited SaTH management and the CCGs have an effective plan in the form of the Future Fit remodelling solution that which will provide safe and effective health provisions for the next 30+ years, in complete denial of their evident corporate incompetence. When will our Councils and MPs who profess only their utmost commitment to the NHS and their constituents, rise up, show some mettle, and create an alliance against this Health model catastrophe?
PS. We are told that the cost of outsourcing health provision for, presumably a 6 month period, of overnight A&E closure is £3.5 million. T&W Council seem to be insisting that housing is a deal breaker in attracting the 22 extra health workers. It will cost £85,800 to subsidise each person’s housing expense for 6 months at £150 p/week. If SaTH are prepared to pay this extra £3.5 monies on outsourcing services why haven’t they thought of spending a fraction of this themselves on rented accommodation??????
It’s great to see politicians coming together and agreeing on something as fundamental as our health provisions. Our Borough Labour Councillors have distanced themselves from their own local Labour Parties and their leader Jeremy Corbyn to join with Conservative Councillors and now our two Tory MPs in support of the Conservative cuts model called Future Fit. Why don’t those who are supporting Health Austerity leave the Labour Party and join up with their Tory Friends so that principled Labour Party members can create a unified campaign against these damaging Health measures?????
At the latest Wellington Town Council meeting I placed a motion before the assembled Councillors related to the crisis in Social Care that was richly illustrated by the recent closure of Cottage Care Day Centre. I should have expected no less than the usual pantomime and small mindedness that is the hallmark of this Council. It seems that they just can’t comprehend the big issues affecting the lives of their residents. My motion, that proposed initially publicly recognising this crisis and then acting to stem the harm resulting from care packages not being available, being reduced or taken away altogether for hundreds of residents needing Care and Support, was roundly condemned. This was mainly because it was seen to be critical of the Borough and the Finance Cabinet member who is also a Wellington Town Councillor. The damage done to our community has lead to increased hospitalisation and mental health problems for adults who are already vulnerable. Our narcissistic Councillors cannot admit that they are probably not able to cope with the needs of the young, elderly and disabled (unlike 4 out of 5 councils canvassed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services who admitted that indeed they might be guilty of a dereliction of their Duty of Care). So our residents’ suffering will continue unabated. The people of Telford don’t deserve these self-serving pantomime characters and must seek out other representatives to pursue their demand as this lot just aren’t up to it.
In my view a no-brainer. Population growth is an unacknowledged accelerator in promoting environmental chaos and global inequalities. We talk and strategise about reducing carbon footprints but not the accelerating numbers of those footprints. No, this is not advocating authoritarian 2 child government dictates, its advocating win win policies such as massive western investments in education, especially for girls, in developing countries and a big push in promoting contraception. We also need a cultural change in acknowledging the effects of our consumption footprints on the wellbeing of the planet and it’s inhabitants.
Not such an odd couple more partners in crime
We will get absolutely nowhere handing out leaflets telling people that Future Fit is a con trick without sticking blame onto our MPs. Nobody is asking what our aims are in all this. I believe that Future Fit is going to happen in exactly the way the NHS bosses plan – they hold all the cards and will win the propaganda war with the public. Any intervention we make in the consultation process will go unregistered (they haven’t spent thousands of pounds on this consultation not to be 100% sure of its outcome) and in any case they have successfully sold the pro FF narrative of winners and losers to the biggest population area in the region so they know that they will get a majority supporting their preferred option. They also know that the public don’t give a stuff about the PFI argument when they are being offered £312 million of cake now which they are being told will enhance their health provision. I think its an easy sell.
We are at war with the Tory government, lets not pretend otherwise. So why do we ignore the fact that there is a political intelligence behind all the cuts and consolidations guiding its direction and determining its presence? It is not NHS bosses that produced the 2012 Health and Social Care Act that opened up 49% of NHS Services to private companies or constructed the STP regions which are tied to stringent austerity funding targets, it was the Tory Government. Given all the pain that we the patients have suffered at the expense of these Tory policies you would think or hope that our 5 local Tory MPs would be screaming at the Health Secretary to back off lest this region turns red with anger. But no they have positioned themselves as local champions of the NHS coming together to congratulate the Future Fit board and Jeremy Hunt for producing a long term solution to the region’s Health problems and of course, because the remodelling will take at least 4 years to come to fruition, they will be betting that blame for this health catastrophe will be forgotten and that there will be other excuses for why there are increased mortalities and suffering.
Surely the only way we can affect them is to call them out over support for the Government ambition to cut £22 billion by 2020 – this is what they ARE responsible for. They can and have distanced themselves from local cuts or reinterpreted them as clinically beneficial. The public however can and do join the dots between these massive national cuts and the health chaos that they experience.
Exposing the floating voters or soft Tories to these incontrovertible facts is exactly what Mark Pritchard, Philip Dunne, Lucy Allan, Daniel Kawczynski and Owen Patterson don’t want us to do. This is why we must.