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.
Damian Green MP
Damian Green, the Governments Works and pension Secretary recently announced how he was ‘very excited’ by the substantial increase of ‘gig jobs’ i.e jobs with no stable hours, holiday pay, sick pay or pensions. This a very rich illustration of the thought processes of this Tory Government. He and his cabinet colleagues show their obscene pleasure in all the social and economic forces that are causing so much pain for the majority, but joy for the 1% who own half of the worlds wealth; at the same time pretending that these are natural forces are not conditioned by government sponsored anti-trade union legislation and laws dedicated to reducing the rights employees have in the work place. This promotion of profits at our expense will be exacerbated by the implementation of Brexit because what their EU bureaucrats did achieve European wide protection of collective bargaining, the promotion of pay equality and anti-discrimination, and rules on job security.
The callous pursuit of riches for the wealthy at our expense has major social costs. Just one example of this is the fact that, between 2011-14, 2,380 peoples died shortly after being declared fit for work, as depicted in the film ‘I Daniel Blake’. The threat of benefits sanctioning or working when they are either mentally of physically unable (in some instance the terminally ill) , leads many to suicide. I think it is high time that politicians who commit these social crimes should suffer the consequence in the same way war criminals do. Is there really that much difference between a politician who knowingly puts profits or their political careers before our health and consequently causing unnecessary deaths, and a war load who knowingly destroys a village that’s in his way?
The politicians know their policies lead to burgeoning mental and physical health problems, inequality, poverty and massively reduced public services. If some of them did jail time for these social crimes they would think twice about their personal responsibilities to society. They have a duty to us the electorate not just the 1% who own most of the wealth and can look after themselves.
Three years ago, when Future Fit was being rolled out the Defend Our NHS group were already saying that the true mission of Future Fit was to reduce costs even at a time when the programme was offering massive increases in other services to offset the consolidation of A&Es (three years on these added services have melted away). Shaun Davies et al only started to show real concern when the remaining A&E seemed to be destined to be in Shrewsbury and the Telford electorate might blame them for their inpotency. Throughout our campaigning we have insisted that this is an an attack on the whole region’s health economy and that consolidation of A&E’s, Planned Care etc is going to be accompanied by cuts in capacity and beds which will mean that whether the A&E is retained in Telford or Shrewsbury we all lose. We now see the consequence of their ‘vote winning Telford First’ campaign as he and the twoTelford Tory MP’s join with the three Shropshire Tory MP’s to fight over the remnants of what’s left of our health provision. These politicians fighting over whose A&E should be closed is sickening.
I demand that Shaun and the others wipe their crocodile tears and develop a political plan that threatens all five sitting Tory MPs for the region. Whichever Party is the biggest threat to these MPs should threaten to run a pro NHS/No Cuts campaign against the sitting Tory MP with other candidates stepping aside. The thought of losing up to five seats in the next general election will change Jeremy Hunt’s mind about destroying our NHS.
I think that T&W council’s response to the decision to locate acute services to the RSH illustrates the weakness of their strategy in dealing with Future Fit. The Future Fit programme board is tasked to remodel health provision through Telford and Wrekin, Shropshire and Powys within a reduced financial framework, (cuts of £147.5 million by 2020). As soon as you accept that this reduced frame work is inevitable you have lost the battle because wherever the cuts hit, whether at Telford A&E or Shrewsbury, we all suffer. Obviously whatever exists after remodelling, there will be a reduced service at a time of increasing demand which can only lead to chaos. Instead (and they are not alone in this) of trying to strategise a regional response that acknowledges how health services are delivered, T&W have conceded defeat on the basic premise of Future Fit i.e that there be only one district hospital A&E provision. Because of this divisive strategy they can’t speak or campaign against the model with a voice that doesn’t sound like one of self interest and that competes with Shropshire voices who are playing the same game. What we need is a campaign that rejects the Future Fit financial framework and demands more finances for the whole Health region. Imagine how it would be if all the region’s Councillors and MPs spoke with that one voice in one campaign to protect our health and not just to protect their votes. Unity rather than divisions is the only way we can leverage the Government to do a U turn on these cuts programme the present undignified scramble for the left over crumbs plays exactly into their hands. #NHS4Me.
Old New Labour
Owen Smith represents this Blairite political culture which, unencumbered by political principles, will tack in any direction that predicts political success. Hence his and his Blairite backers, move towards the new socialist Zeitgeist personified by Corbyn. This could just as easily have been a tack towards UKIP and in fact often, to optimise this opportunist approach, the political conservatives try to include as many rhetorical positions as possible from both the left and the right (just read an item by Stephen Kinnock calling on the Labour Party to put limits on free movement of labour because it has nothing to do with Labour values, according to him limits to immigration can be undertaken without a guilty conscience as they would, under Labour, be undertaken purely for economic reasons and not be pandering to UKIP supporters). Smith has already talked about the empathy he feels towards those feeling threatened by immigration. He quotes his wife, a teacher, reporting to him about the pressures on local schools from “significant numbers into South Wales of people fleeing the Middle East”. But this tidal wave of refugees turns out to number 78. But not 78 in her town but 78 in the whole of Wales!
This politics is the politics of reaction and redefines what it means to be a politician. It argues that their role is to understand public opinion and move policy towards it rather than persuade the public to their view. For progressives this is a disastrous tactic as public opinion (without an opposing public political narrative) is mediated by a rightwing press and media. It is the press, media and establishment commentators who establish what are the acceptable parameters of political discourse and because they fear that Corbyn might overturn what they say are legitimate arguments and who are the legitimate targets of those arguments, everything including the kitchen sink will, if it hasn’t already been, be thrown at him.
Should Labour Councils consider themselves prisoners of war? During World War 2 British POWs were obliged by their captors to administer their own prison regime. In the year’s following the financial crash in 2008 Labour Councils have been forced to administer Tory Austerity measures. The difference between our brave soldiers in the Second World War and Labour Councils is that the former never forgot who they were and saw it as their duty to escape and continue the fight against their oppressors whereas Labour Councillors seem to feel very at home and comfortable administering debilitating cuts. Cuts that have diminished some adults with learning difficulties lives to just staring at 4 blank walls as they are forced to do without day services and community transport. Instead of joining with other Labour Councils to fight against these injustices they hide and, ignoring the pain that they are dealing out on behalf of their Tory masters, just repackage cuts as savings or efficiency schemes. The community demand that their representatives don’t remain silent about the damage and pain caused by these cuts and that they remember that they have a duty to organise and fight against their enemy’s ideologically driven Austerity programme. If they can’t do that then there are plenty who are prepared to take that challenge on.