Government’s £270 million cut in Cornwall’s NHS overshadows ongoing indecision
An enforced Government cut of £270 million in Cornwall’s NHS by 2020 still overshadows the decisions of local health chiefs. Theyve submitted an important paper for the next “Transformation” Health Board Meeting next Monday 8th Oct for discussion/decision.
Health campaigner and former Liberal Democrat MP Andrew George welcomed some of the few decisions which have been taken to preserve important urgent care services. However, he observes that managers are still seeking to string-out decisions for as long as possible to put off the inevitable controversy of having to implement Government cuts.
Mr George said, “The decision to retain West Cornwall Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre as one of three Urgent Care facilities at Penzance, Truro and Bodmin is sensible. It is a decision for which campaigners like those of West Cornwall HealthWatch deserve enormous credit. We have all fought very hard to protect services at the Hospital. The implications of earlier drafts which implied the downgrading of the Hospital had caused much alarm.
“Equally, protecting other Minor Injuries services run through GP clinics is welcome too. Though the report doesn’t tell us what hours these services will operate. Nor does it confirm that the new UCC at Bodmin will operate 24/7 as at the other two.
“The emphasis on mental health is especially welcome. Though seeing some real action and improvement in the service would be more reassuring than mutual congratulation for ticking target boxes.
“However, the rest of the report is necessarily a continuation of the same obfuscation and timidity as before. The report is laced with management babble and a masterfully impenetrable vail of vagueness and imprecision. The inevitable closures of Edward Hain, Fowey and Saltash Hospitals will be strung out until spring 2020. More than 4 years after they closed ‘temporarily’!
“The logic of the plans being developed by Cornwall’s Health Chiefs means we need MORE primary and community services – to both improve preventation of illness and to take pressure off the acute sector. But these closures take our services in the opposite direction – unless of course there’re plans to re-provide and enhance these services in another format.
“Underlying all of this is the shadow of the Government’s demand that Cornwall must find at least £270 million of savings/cuts by 2020. The report pays lip service to this. But there’re no figures and no indication how close it is to achieving the “system financial recovery plan to contain cost and demand in the NHS” it’s set for itself.
“The Government made announcements about putting more money in the NHS last July. But there’s been no evidence of this in reality nor whether any will help Cornwall actually avoid these cuts.
“That’s why a cross-Party campaign group of clinicians and campaigners will continue with our call for “20% more by 2020 to save the NHS”. We need that just to preserve what we’ve got. More is needed to improve the service.”