We love our NHS, yet it is in danger.
Nationally, £22 billion has been taken out of the budget in the last seven years and now Derbyshire healthcare is threatened. A new senior manager, Dr Chris Clayton, has been asked to oversee significant cutbacks across the whole county, equivalent to a notional 535 beds. Patients, relatives and staff will all suffer over the coming years.
A group of patients, staff and members of the community are challenging the main decision-makers – Council Health and Wellbeing Boards, Commissioning Groups and local MPs to stand up and say “These cutbacks are not fair and not necessary.” We’ll be driving through Derbyshire on Saturday the 18th November, arriving at County Hall at 11.30 in a colourful Motorcade protest, to draw attention to our concerns.
Why are we doing this?
It is clear that funding for GP surgeries is being reduced, increasing the waiting time to see a doctor. Across the county, hospitals are threatened. Several Wards at Royal Derby, a Ward at Whitworth (Matlock), the whole of Newholme (Bakewell), Bolsover, Clay Cross, Shire Hill, Babington, in Staffordshire, Burton hospital. All are threatened with the chop.
Senior health managers suggest that more care at home and in the community will solve the problem of underfunding. There is not a single piece of research that confirms this assertion; prestigious bodies like the King’s Fund pour cold water on the “Better Care at Home” proposals. Doctors and nursing staff know that if a patient comes out of an acute hospital – such as Chesterfield or Royal Derby – there needs to be a recovery hospital like Babington.
Community hospital special nurse-led care is needed and patient relatives can easily visit. It makes no sense at all to close down Derbyshire’s community hospitals.
Reports from patients and relatives suggest that the skilled teams in Newholme, Babington and elsewhere give high quality care and support.
Health workers deserve our praise.
However, there are also concerns about privatisation. Whilst no private companies are expressing an interest in making profit out of accident and emergency – because there is no profit to be made – other services are in danger of being taken over by companies like Centene who just been given a £2.7 million consultancy contract in neighbouring Nottinghamshire.
This is a big worry, because although the accepted constitution of Our NHS is a publicly funded, nationally managed and free at the point of delivery service, it seems that Our NHS is being fragmented into 44 Footprints. Privatisation – that is, providing healthcare for profit rather than on the basis of need – requires new contracts to enable an Accountable Care Organisation be put in place. Dr Clayton is charged with steering through these contracts through and we have invited him to explain his understanding of the future of Our NHS on Saturday.
We expect a big colourful crowd of vehicles and banners to march to Matlock’s County Hall on Saturday 18th November at midday.
Hopefully, Dr Clayton will answer our questions.
By Keith Venables (Convenor, Derbyshire Save Our NHS)