Public Meeting resolves to take “Save our NHS” fight to Government
A well attended public meeting in Penzance last night overwhelmingly resolved to take a public protest to Government to “save out NHS”.
The meeting arranged by former MP and Health campaigner Andrew George was attended by more than 200 people. Panel speakers were Dr Malcolm Stewart (Clinical Director at RCHT), Dr Neil Walden (local GP and Penwith CCG Locality lead), Marna Blundy (West Cornwall Healthwatch), Stuart Roden (Unite Union Regional Officer) and Cllr Rob Rotchell (Cornwall Council Health and Care Cabinet lead).
Andrew George said, “Our NHS is on the verge of melt down. We can all see that our hardworking NHS staff are seriously overstretched with ambulances queuing, trolley waits extending, operations cancelled and services at breaking point. Having yet another reorganisation is not an answer to these problems. Nor does it help for Government Ministers and Conservative MPs to constantly re-announce grand-sounding but completely inadequate spending commitments, a blizzard of misleading numbers on doctor and nurse recruitment and to attempt to bewilder the public with meaningless management babble.
“The public deserve to have their voice heard. It’s clearly pointless to depend on local Conservative MPs who are content with the Government’s gradual winding down of the NHS. The local MP was of course invited but once again refused to come.
“That’s why the meeting resolved to cut through the deliberate fog of uncertainty, bewildering management changes and mild management babble to take a fight to the Government to campaign for the money which is desperately needed to bring our NHS up to a level equivalent to comparable developed countries in Europe and elsewhere.”
The meeting discussed a wide range of issues facing the NHS – £100m local NHS debt, ambulance queues, closed and community hospitals and inadequate hospital beds, overstretched staff and services, the risks of another reorganisation (ACS), budget-driven service changes (STP), threadbare mental health services, proposals to remove essential radiotherapy from the Sunrise centre, cancelled operations, threats to local Minor Injury Units and more.
Above all the meeting focussed on the inadequate NHS budget and the financial pressures which were at the route of all of the pressures faced by the NHS.
The meeting also broadly accepted that local health managers, like those on the panel, and Cornwall Council – as represented by Cllr Rotchell – were doing all they could to make the best of the inadequate budget provided by government and to make high-risk Government policy and management reorganisations “less bad” when rolled out in Cornwall.
The meeting then took a vote to take the fight to Government. To make the case to put patients before profit, to support front line staff and to increase the NHS budget to save the NHS from an otherwise inevitable slide into much greater rationing and two-tier healthcare.
Andrew George promised to get back to those who attended the meeting and the hundreds of people who had sent apologies and to take the campaign forward, and with the support of West Cornwall Healthwatch.