People’s fight to save their local hospital from the Moneymen: Campaign
I know I am not alone in wondering how Labour’s most precious achievement of the NHS is being wrenched away, whilst reassured that my late parents, like the great Aneurin Bevan himself are unaware that their NHS is being sold for profit, by a government without an overall majority. Cameron said, one lie among so many, that the NHS would be safe in their hands. Their mission accomplished, it is a while since we have heard those words, “we’re all in it together.” I fear an old age without an NHS. I fear for my children and my grandchildren. I am not alone.
Can you afford your local private school? Can you afford your local private hospital? Will you have confidence that they can deliver the service and support you need? You are not alone. There are more of us.
Fear is not enough. There is a fight on our hands, and this is class war. There are more of us – united we stand up the stronger, divided, we fall.
General Hospital Privatisation in Weston-super-Mare
Weston-super-Mare is a town in North Somerset with a population of over 200,000. This was 202,566 according to Census 2011 records, ( lower than the 2010 Office for National Statistics (ONS) Mid Year Estimates (212,000) for the area.) 20% of Weston’s population is over 65. Housing development has led to rapid growth. Since 1981 North Somerset’s population has increased by 24% and is estimated to be 234,000 by 2021.The town is represented by John Penrose (Conservative MP), yet there is extreme poverty and deprivation in parts of Weston and poor health.
In terms of the Indices of Deprivation (ID) 2010, North Somerset has 15 areas in the most deprived quartile in the country. All of these areas are in Weston-super-Mare. For the first time in North Somerset we have areas within the most deprived 1% nationally, and the least deprived 1% nationally. This result in North Somerset having the 7th largest inequality gap.
Clearly, we are not all in it together. It has been acknowledged that action is required by the NHS and council to plan services for the predicted growth in the population, particularly in the older age groups. The story is looking very different. Modernisation and expansion in the town led to a new hospital being built in 1986 to replace the Victorian hospital which no longer met the needs of people. While Bristol is some twenty-three miles away, Taunton is thirty-three. Weston needs its own hospital more than ever today, but rather than invest, and improve, Weston General Hospital now is planned to be sold off – all for profits, and A & E closed down as too costly. With some of the poorest families in the country, and a higher than average elderly population, this is disastrous for the people of Weston-super-Mare.
But the people will not take this lying down. The fight is on for the people in Weston-super-Mare. There is an active campaign to save Weston Hospital:
- Our aim is to protect and promote the principles of the NHS, which have enabled it to provide the world’s most efficient and comprehensive health service for almost 65 years.
- Those principles are now under threat, as a result of the Coalition government’s fundamental reorganisation programme, and their decision to promote the interests of private health care providers, over the interests of the general public.
- What local people need to realise is that putting Weston General Hospital ‘up for sale’, is just the start of a process which, unless we challenge it, will lead to us losing more and more local services, and having to travel to Bristol or Taunton for the treatment and care which is currently available here.
- One in ten A & E units are now under threat nationally, as a massive £20bn is cut from the NHS budget – and many have already closed with devastating results. Statistics show that when people have to travel further for A & E treatment it doesn’t just cause inconvenience, it costs lives. At Newark, in Nottinghamshire, there was a 37% rise in death rates after the local A & E department was closed, and the pattern is being repeated up and down the country.
- We need to warn Weston residents that there is a real risk that we could lose local children’s and maternity services, and even our A & E department, within the next few years. It ought to be unthinkable that a town with a population and catchment area the size of Weston could face such a fate, but this is what is happening to similar communities all over England.
- Only 60 miles down the road, Cheltenham’s A & E department already has ‘urgent cases’ redirected to Gloucester between 8pm – 8am, and many local NHS staff there are predicting that it’s only a matter of time before the department is downgraded to a minor injury unit, or closes altogether. Children’s and maternity services there have already been downgraded, as cutbacks start to bite.
- The first priority now is to ensure that Weston Hospital remains within the NHS – as a sale to a private company will mean that only those health services which make a profit will be retained locally. However, people should understand that whilst merging with another NHS organisation (where patients, not profit, are the priority) is better, it won’t remove the risk of the town’s hospital being significantly scaled down. Whatever happens now, people are going to have to work together and fight, if we are going to retain the services which we all need and rely on.
Unison is holding a public meeting about Weston General on June 29 at Weston-super-Mare Football Club. Weston-super-Mare Labour Party is actively campaigning in the area, and has launched a is running an on-line campaign. Please sign the petition. There is a FaceBook group Save our NHS. John Penrose has gone on record saying that he believes the people of Weston will not “care two hoots” who runs Weston Hospital.
The NHS has said it will not refer patients to a private hospital following a scathing assessment of the chaotic and dangerous conditions that led it to suspend children’s surgery. The Mount Alvernia hospital in Surrey, run by BMI Healthcare, one of Britain’s biggest private healthcare providers, agreed to suspend surgery .. after the damning Care Quality Commission (CQC) report. Care failures cited by the CQC report included a surgeon who operated without gloves in blood-stained shirt sleeves, and a child who was not seen by a paediatrician for seven hours despite their condition deteriorating.
No, Mr. Penrose (Conservative MP), it’s not that we don’t care “two hoots” for our NHS. While you may have an eye on a ministerial position, you turn your back on ordinary people. They care more than you realise.
- BBC Cameron: NHS safe in our hands
- Weston Area Health: NHS A Brief history of Acute care in North Somerset
- Population of Weston-super-Mare 2011 Census
- 38 Degrees: Stop the Privatisation of Weston General Hospital
- Save our NHS: What Happens when you close a local A&E Hospital:? People Die.
- Save our NHS: The Campaign to Save Weston Hospital has started.
- Damning Report on Privatised Hospital Care
- Weston Mercury – Union oppose Hospital Sale
- UNISON Meeting Weston General Hospital
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