Our Health provisions are in crisis but our corrupt politics carries on regardless. By corrupt I mean without principles and driven by cynical calculations. Up until it was made clear that the A&E and Women and Children’s services were being threatened at the PRH rather than the RSH the Labour Council in Telford were so relaxed that they even criticised Shropshire CCG for resisting the process of RSH losing it’s A&E. Now of course Shropshire politicians are quietly satisfied that PRH is to be downgraded even hypocritically complaining about the T&W Council leader for resisting. So, instead of these politicians uniting against the cuts that will affect the whole region’s health on the basis that irrespective of where you live the services will not be able to cope, the politicians are game playing to be seen to get the best deal for their constituents. It is the cuts in the region’s Health service not in a particular politician’s area that are causing people to die waiting on trolleys or in the back of queuing ambulances. Babies are dying because of inadequate care. People are living in acute pain whilst on ever extending waiting times. It’s getting to be impossible to get an appointment with any GP let alone one of your choice. The latest is this entirely bogus claim that Lucy Allan MP and the Chair of the local Tory party had saved the Woman and Children’s centre at the PRH (The future of our A&E has still to be decided upon and it’s future location will also determine the location of many of the services delivered by the Woman and Children’s department). This is fake news both to undermine Telford Council’s campaign to retain all the trauma assets both staffing and physical at Telford, and to give camouflage to the £150 million pounds and 2,000 staff cuts. We, the people of both Telford and Shropshire should resist these Austerity cuts in our hospitals, GP practices and social care. Its up to the people of Shropshire and Telford to save our Health Service and not to rely on vote grabbing politicians.
‘Our Customers’ says the senior commissioner for Adults with Learning Difficulties and my heart sinks. This re- categorisation of service users/people/adults as customers always seemed a fix that these public service providers used to de-humanise the people they serve. Only recently have I thought hard exactly why I had a beef with the use of this term. It gradually dawned on me that if you wished to reduce the public services you would have to take a leaf out of the private sector in managing demand and the first port of call is changing the lexicon within your profession. So instead of listening to them about their needs it is more cost effective to redefine those needs and what better way of doing this than considering a human being as a customer that you have to sell your produce or service to. The police and government have been told for decades that: we the public need more community policing on foot patrols, that we want to have our own named GP’s who are available the day that we make an appointment, that we have fully equipped and staffed nearby local hospitals that have no parking charges, that we have a cheap, efficient and effective public transport system especially in rural areas etc. As members of the public we expect to be listened to but as customers we expect to be sold to. The government have been selling its health cuts programme called Sustainability Transformation Plans to us the customer not us the voters. I’ve never heard of people demonstrating in support of the £100 billion Trident programme but I have heard a lot of politicians selling it as a product that we just must have. I have heard many politicians sell the lie – public bad private good, when the public and voters actually want a publicly owned railway service and publicly owned NHS. Let’s no longer listen to their publicity machines whose task is to persuade us that what they want is what we want. Customers get manipulated to buy goods and services they don’t need. People/Voters tell the bureaucrats and politicians what their needs are and what will happen if they’re not met.
What characterises the conservative letter contributors that dominate your pages is their patent inability or refusal to match their strident positions with either research or personal experiences. Let’s take some of the popular conservative/reactionary triggers for their outrage. Immigration and the threat from Islam, always a popular subject matter of the political rightwing or any populist movement wanting to scare the electorate from their liberal complacency. It’s interesting isn’t it that most paranoid responses come from communities with the smallest proportion of ethnic populations and I believe this is because white people from diverse communities see with their own eyes that the scurrilous lies and the picture painted by the Conservative Government, UKIP, 70% of the press and near on 100% of the local press, on this subject are wrong.
For those who are not able to see this reality for themselves and rely on politicians and the media, the continuous repetition of ‘non facts and stories’ has created a warped perception of the reality of immigration and immigrants. For instance their readers and followers believe, after reading and hearing the hundreds of scare stories of millions of scrounging foreigners soon to be departing to our shores, that the proportion of Muslims in the UK is 4 times greater than the reality. Their readers think that the proportion of asylum seekers and refugees (who these writers show particular contempt for) out of all immigrants entering this country is 10 times the real numbers. These same commentators from much of the press and the Government never point out the fact that immigrants, because they come over to work and subsequently pay taxes, are 59% less likely to be receiving benefits and 57% less likely to live in social housing than native Britons.
I feel sorry for the millions of right wing peoples across the country who are basically good people whose perceptions of reality, like in pre-war Germany, have been perverted by a hateful reactionary media and political establishment. But I fear more for the victims of their irrational bile.
Councillor Lee Carter must take more effort in trying to square the circle in describing his financial management of Telford and Wrekin’s budget. On 16 February we read that because of ‘the strength of (his) financial management’ the council had underspent by £3.1 million. Then by 23rd February we are told that Social Care is in crisis but nevertheless we can afford to hold down council tax to well below the maximum level that would invoke a referendum. So we have two profoundly heartless and cynical Carteresque decisions 1) to underspend when there is massive need being unmet especially in Social Care and 2) Deliberately hold down council tax which leads to further cuts next year, and in the future, in departments that aren’t even dealing with their statutory obligations to vulnerable people (but hey, vulnerable people rarely vote so nothing to worry about). Many of us thought that the latest changes in the Labour Party might steel this council’s resolve to fight these austerity cuts instead of making them worse – even deepest blue Surrey County council proposed a massive 15% hike in its council tax to mitigate the harm being done to their vulnerable adults and were maybe putting their conscience before their worries about losing votes. But you never know Lee, perhaps the electorate could be persuaded to put their hands in their pockets if it means that an elderly patient discharged from hospital can get washed and fed and adequately cared for. I know that would get my vote.
Its official – 2016 was the warmest year on record. Come to think of it I’ve heard this said before. Yes 15 out of 16 years since the year 2000 have had record busting world yearly temperatures bringing us ever closer to the 2% increase that will start an exponential uncontrollable spiral into environmental chaos. This at a time when we have a resurgent right wing in this country and the USA who state that its a made-up conspiracy. Remember these are the people who are adept at creating a post truth world where every attack on their credibility is drowned out by their preposterous lies – remember the 29 million Romanians and Bulgarian immigrant workers ready to embark at Dover or the £350 million extra for the NHS? Both were nothing but a hoax. NASA, (remember them – the people that got us the moon and back with their dodgy science?), announced the latest record in temperatures and stated that most of this year’s increase is down to human emitted carbon. Unfortunately we have Trump – someone who boasts about disliking book reading, preferring presumably to guess about these scientific phenomena – saying that global warming is a Chinese conspiracy to undermine the United States economy. In this country, the Tory right wingers and UKIP say it is a conspiracy of assorted vested interests. You know – that cabal of 98% of all scientists, do-gooders, lefties most of the world leaders meeting in pubs up and down the country hatching their diabolical schemes to get the great British public needlessly worried about their children’s future?
Do we really want to let the global corporations exploit our planet to the max for their profits? The giant tobacco industry, aided by the propaganda of right wing politicians, have been significantly slowed down by ‘do gooders’ in its bid to undermine world health. We have to ensure that the oil industry is similarly impeded for the sake of our planet and for our children’s future.
The National Health funding emergency is overwhelming local provision as much as it is nationally. Yet, as your front page article stated, Hospital bosses are telling us to ‘calm down dear’ as yet another health provision is axed. The Malling walk-in doctors surgery and those 8000 patients living in the Wellington area are going to have to sign on with other surgeries. These maybe miles away as I understand that at least one of the local surgeries is refusing to take any of the Malling Health patients.Yes the Malling was meant primarily to reduce the numbers who would normally attend the A&E but it had to take on a flood of patients wanting to leave Wellington Medical Practice – a practice which is still failing patients. I rang this practice 152 times the other day only to fail to get an appointment for my mother who was poorly. Several weeks ago my wife resorted to walking to the Practice after wasting one and a half hours getting nowhere on the phone. She was told that despite the best endeavours of the staff, the phone system was indeed failing to cope with the demands of the 21000 patients Wellington has on its books and that anyone needing a doctor’s attention that day should now go to the Malling walk in centre!
We in the Green Party believe that there is a failure to acknowledge that our health provision is in melt down. Future Fit and the consolidation of services within the Shropshire region even in its flawed original conception was conditional on the fact that we had expanding primary local care and preventative services which would – they claim, lead to reduced need for hospital care and emergency services. Rehabilitation services and GP centres are closing, waiting time for planned care and emergency admissions are rising and we are told that cuts in bed numbers and reduced staffing is the answer.
The reality is that our region has been asked to contribute to the government’s £22 billion health cuts and Future Fit and our Sustainability Transformation Plan is our local health bosses reply – all at our expense. The 5 Conservative MPs should resign rather than represent a government that would do this to us.
It seems to me that all our representatives, whatever their political brand or at what ever level, local or national have all given in to the plans to reduce our level of health care. But being politicians they will fight to their last breath to make sure those cuts enshrined in Future Fit and the Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP) are felt more in any other constituency rather than theirs, thus protecting their own voting base. This means we cannot rely on them to save us from the objectives of these health remodelling schemes decimating our hospitals, rural care and social care. If the cuts in staff numbers are in any way close to the two thousand rumoured then I believe one of the hospitals will close. None of these politicians will admit that this is part of the Austerity strategy and that whatever the model and whoever ‘gets’ the A&E we will all suffer. If for instance the A&E remained at the PRH it would be overrun and have insufficient staff and beds to cope. If this were to be the case all planned Care would be moved to Shrewsbury meaning that all Telford patients and visitors would have to journey to Shrewsbury’s overrun and understaffed wards. The only demand that make sense is that there should be no cuts to our health budget and that the NHS should get money appropriate to our needs. Our two conservative MP’s should resign in protest against these cuts as Zac Goldsmith did when he realised that his Government were reneging over promises over a third runway at Heathrow. The prospect of Tory MPs up and down the country resigning and forcing by-elections over these STPs would surely change the Government’s attitude to health cuts. Votes count, lives don’t.