More death-throes of a zombie government…

Posted on: 18th July 2023

This week’s column

• This week’s announcement of a scaled-down new-build of West Cornwall Hospital’s Outpatient Dept. is of course welcome. Though the building is unlikely to win awards for beauty nor enhancing the aspects of the hospital, it will be welcomed by both staff and patients as a better replacement for a long out-of-date facility. There won’t be any of the originally promised improvements – including at the Urgent Treatment Centre. Though I do welcome that the government cannot now enforce the previously planned sell-off of Bellair Health Centre; which is an important community resource which should be developed to expand our local health resources.

There’s no suggestion this £9m+ investment will result in any increase in services at the hospital! Odd that the usual business case and value for money tests seem to have been overlooked in this case. Perish the thought that this has anything at all to do with the forthcoming general election and that this is a very marginal Tory seat…

What WCH really needs is investment to increase lost bed capacity, following the closures of Edward Hain and Poltair community hospitals, as well as to ensure the hospital has the diagnostic and other facilities to safely handle wider range of unplanned patient attendances at the UTC which needs to operate on a 24/7 basis.

• Very disappointed that Conservative Councillors used their majority to vote unanimously against my motion to “restore” the WCH Urgent Treatment Centre to 24/7 service, and to further oppose my proposal to hold a short Inquiry to get to the bottom of why it’s closed and what’s needed to put it on a safe and sustainable future footing. It had cross-Party support – except from Conservatives. Our wonderful frontline NHS staff deserve better than this.

• Good to see strong local support for our Rail Ticket Offices. Plans to close almost all throughout the country – including ours at Penzance, St Erth, Redruth etc – is a consequence of Conservative policy. It could be stopped now by Conservative Ministers, if they chose.

Plans are founded on a fiction dreamt-up by remote managers with a naive faith in the infallibility of technology. They want to hide behind ’smart’ systems, ‘apps’, and station concourse vending machines. Leaving frustrated/bewildered passengers to seek assistance from a few already harassed platform staff – if they can find them – who will no doubt be armed with threadbare capacity to assist, other than to offer another IT system or robotic telephone complaints system.

People need people, not AI bot-managed systems. I get the impression that ambiguity is deliberately designed into these systems to frustrate, and then force customers to pay more than they should for tickets. Their plans fail to consider the disabled, elderly, those unused to IT systems, nor what would happen when systems fail or are hacked. Perhaps they’ll do what other service providers do these days and offer a set of irrelevant FAQ backup answers. They won’t advise on the most cost-effective and way to get from A to B, as ticket office staff do now.

Conservative MPs in marginal seats worried about an imminent general election will of course desperately try to distance themselves from Conservative ministers’ support for this silly policy.

The campaign must and will grow. The “consultation” ends today (26th July)! Barely a few weeks after it commenced. Though I don’t think anyone is listening, …yet. I’m determined we shall win. You can help make a difference, by backing the campaign. Our petitioning will continue.