Grantham Journal column: How will our MP vote on Bill which could undo health harm

Charmaine Morgan. 803D ENGEMN00120131016144131
Charmaine Morgan. 803D ENGEMN00120131016144131

SOS Grantham Hospital wishes to thank everyone who took part in the F4GH protest on Saturday, February 25, and who came to lend their support at the SOS Grantham Hospital stall.

The petition, due to go to Downing Street mid March has now reached over 50,000 signatures.Some key campaign activity is taking place. SoSGH are acting both in relation to the night closure of our A&E and also the NHS England led Lincolnshire STP.

SoSGH are running a series of public Patient Need workshops including at The Railway Club on February 28 at 7;30pm and at 10am on March 3 at Grantham Museum. 
The NHS principals and national STP guidelines state that patient needs should be the key consideration of NHS providers.

As the Government, NHS England and local healthcare providers restructure our services it is vital our voices are heard. SosGH plan to publish the results. Workshops and interviews with individuals are being held to capture our needs. After that, a Gap Analysis will be completed to see if our needs will, in fact, be met.

SoSGH have already lobbied and submitted evidence to ULHT, CCG, Healthwatch Lincolnshire, LCC Health Scrutiny Committee, NHSI ,CQC and NHS England re the night closure of Grantham A& E. We have taken legal advice and will be submitting evidence to the IRP who have been instructed by Health Minister Jeremy Hunt to examine the night closure of our A&E after LCC Health Scrutiny Committee chaired by Cllr Christine Talbot, intervened on this point.

SoSGH are aware it would be easy to blame the CCG hospital trust for the concerns we have over our local health services, indeed we have serious concerns over key local decisions being made, but we are also looking at Government policy and the role it has played. In particular we examine who supported the Health & Social Care Act 2012 which is behind a number of key issues we now face.

The workshops and feedbank during our campaign have highlighted cuts in hospital beds, centralising acute services including A&E and maternity, prelying on Care in the Community services and the underfunding of our NHS and social care are key concerns.

A report in the Telegraph highlighted that since 2010 over 60 A&E and maternity units have been closed or downgraded nationally (including Grantham Hospital maternity Unit). A shocking figure that shows the devastating impact Government policies have had nationally on our hospital services.

Another Mirror report shows that under this Government so far more than 7,000 hospital beds have been lost. This has contributed to an overall halving of NHS hospital beds from a high of 300,000 to 150,000 putting huge pressure on available NHS resources especially as demand is also increasing.

The Mirror states: “The UK already has one of the lowest levels of hospital beds in the EU, 2.8 per thousand people compared with 8.6 in Germany and 6.2 in France.”

We think it is important healthcare providers challenge the cuts. By implementing them, regardless of the impact on our safety, CCGs and hospital trusts are giving credibility to policies that are hollowing out our NHS and opening up our health services to privatisation. Since 2012 one third of NHS contracts have been awarded to private health care providers and 49% of all NHS hospital beds are now available to private health providers...all thanks to the 2012 H & SC Act.

The Government has also removed PCTs and given the majority of control to healthcare providers for the services we need. This means that whilst the Lincolnshire STP will result in key changes the CCGs and ULHT are also proceeding with other plans that affect our services. We need a clear understanding of exactly what is happening to our health services, where and when. We also need to be assured none of the changes are so significant they should have been referred to public consultation.

There is an opportunity through MP Margaret Greenwood’s NHS Private Members’ Bill 2016 to start to undo much of the damage/prevent further damaging issues.

SOSGH will be closely monitoring who supports that Bill which has cross party support from MPs committed to the continued public ownership of our NHS.

The second reading of the bill has been postponed to March this year. SoSGH have asked our local MP Nick Boles for his comments on these matters and are waiting a detailed reply.

His voting record on health matters is available online.

Despite stating his support for our campaign it is concerning Mr Boles voted to remove PCTs when our PCT listened to us and decided against the closure of Grantham A&E in 2006. It is possible he has reconsidered in light of recent events. In which case as he is no longer a minister he will be able to support the new NHS Bill at its second hearing.

See at: www.theyworkforyou.com

We ask local people to write to Mr Boles requesting he supports this important Bill which provides a lifeline to our NHS.

The NHS 2016-17 Bill can be viewed here: services.parliament.uk

Anyone wishing to follow our campaign may do so at www.sosgranthamhospital.org.uk

Or follow us on Facebook #sosgh

Please contact me for further details. To be clear, this is who I am: Coun Charmaine Morgan, Chair SOS Grantham Hospital

Mobile: 07398 156296.