Save Our NHS and Care Services

(L-R) Medway Councillors Adam Price, Vince Maple, David Colman and Tristan Osborne on Gillingham High Street at the last NHS campaign weekend.

You can find us on Chatham High Street from 11 am – 1pm, and on Gillingham High Street from 2-4pm this Saturday (10th December).

This is because the Government is planning the biggest re-organisation of the NHS since it began in 1948. It is unnecessary, unwanted, wasteful and damaging – and threatens to end the NHS as we know it. Only last year, the Government promised people they wouldn’t do it. Many thousands of people have already called on the Government to stop.

But they are ploughing on, ignoring public and professional opinion, out of touch with Britain. We need to make the Government listen before it’s too late.

The new bill would lead to the biggest and most disruptive reorganisation in the history of the NHS, at a cost of £2bn; creating more quangos with unclear roles, meaning more money spent on bureaucracy, not less.

Even without these changes fully finalised, the NHS is facing real cuts now, and services are struggling. David Cameron categorically pledged not to cut the NHS and to increase funding every year in real terms; he said he could be trusted with the NHS, but it’s clear that he cannot.

Already, government figures show an £800m funding drop in real terms for the NHS in the Coalition’s first year, and this is only going to get worse as inflation soars under Tory management. Meanwhile the government’s drive to make £20bn of efficiency savings in England by 2015 is putting a tight squeeze on services. ‘Efficiency’ is simply translating into cuts and service reductions across the country.

The stretch on hospitals is being felt locally – at Medway Maritime Hospital the number of patients waiting more than four hours in A&E has more than doubled in a year, and many other patients have not been treated within recommended time limits. The proposed merger with Darenth Valley Hospital is also raising concerns.

Cllr Vince Maple, Medway Labour’s Deputy Leader said,

“Residents should never forget that the Tories opposed the creation of the NHS in the 1940s, 60 years on they are trying to dismantle it and sell it off to the highest bidder. During our Save the NHS weekend we want to work with residents to oppose this barmy Tory legislation”

Additionally, we now see otherTory policies hurting the sick and vulnerable. Today, it has been highlighted in the national news how the new Tory work capability assessment is so stringent as to require repeated testing of Cancer patients during their treatment.

On top of this, the Labour group are extremely concerned by the proposal put to Medway Council’s Conservative Cabinet, to privatise or axe vital adult social care services which have previously been run by the council.

Cllr Teresa Murray, Medway Labour’s spokesperson for Health and Adult Social Care said,

“It is extremely concerning to see the Conservatives actively pursuing a policy of overt privatisation of the remaining adult care service sector, despite all the press in recent months about how a number of these organisations are managed to maximise profits for share-holders, at the expense of our society’s most vulnerable adults.

The Tory claim of efficiency is a foggy smokescreen given they have announced a predicted £7.9m overspend on capital and revenue budgets. It is simply another case of cynical Conservatives letting core services pay the price for their financial incompetence.

This is a true Scrooge-like move from the Tories, proposing potentially devastating cuts when they hope people’s backs are turned by the Christmas period. This, on top of the fact, the government is making it harder for disabled people to secure transport to access the services they need, where these are still available.

But we should not forget that Christmas can often be the loneliest time of the year for the elderly or vulnerable, with day centres often offering them the reprieve they need.

A large number of the service users have severe learning difficulties or are elderly residents who need very specific care. It is the least we can ask that we treat them with respect without the fear of constant change of staff and the upheaval this will cause. Sadly, our Conservatives are happy to waste money on flights of fancy but not willing to invest in core public services.” 

Members of the public will be able to sign our petitions both to save the NHS, and to save Medway’s care homes from cuts and closures.