Threat to children’s wards recedes as NHS campaign grows
The proposed closure of three children’s in-patients wards has been thrown into disarray, as a merger between two Surrey hospitals collapsed last week.
The plans to close three out of four kids’ wards in South West London were cast into doubt as South West London NHS revealed that their “consultative body”, Better Services Better Value, would have to re-start their review of local NHS services after a merger between Epsom Hospital and St. Peter’s in Ashford fell through.
The collapse of the merger means that the BSBV report, which originally recommended the closure, will have to be re-written to include Epsom Hospital, as well as the four it originally concerned (Kingston, St Helier, Croydon and St George’s in Tooting).
The dangers remain
Despite the cuts being kicked into the long grass for the moment, the underlying problem in SW London NHS remains the same. The government is slashing 24% of the local healthcare budget by 2017. We can be sure that SWLNHS will come back for more in the future – and we have to be ready to resist.
Meanwhile, the other attacks on the NHS are continuing. Kingston Hospital recently appointed a new set of governors – a key part of the process of becoming a Foundation Hospital. And once it gains that status, new legislation means it will be able to carry out up to 49% of its treatments on private patients. As budgets are cut, more and more private patients will be treated in our local NHS hospital – and those who can’t pay will be kicked to the back of the queue.
And the great NHS sell-off continues apace. Wards at Tolworth Hospital are being sold into private hands. Harmoni, which runs the out-of-hours GP service in Kingston, has just been bought by Care UK – the company whose chairman donated £21,000 to Andrew Lansley, the architect of the Health and Social Care Act, which opened up the NHS for private profit earlier this year.
Resistance is growing – fight all cuts, closure and privatisation
Kingston KONP was out on the streets of Kingston this weekend, campaigning about cuts, closures and the Conservative’s carving up of the NHS cake. Activists collected over 200 signatures on a local petition against the attack on the NHS locally, and got a brilliant response from loads of ordinary people who want to fight back.This is just one example of the campaigns that are sprouting up around London. In Lewisham, last week, 1000 people attended a meeting against the closure of the local A&E, which only opened six months ago. Lewisham Keep Our NHS Public has called a demonstration for Saturday 24th November.
Already, thousands have marched in Ealing, Brent, Woolwich, Sutton and across the country.
The attack on our children’s wards may have receded for the moment, but there’s plenty left to fight. We need to stay alert to the cuts that are bound to come in the future, keeping fighting privatisation and show solidarity with everyone across the country fighting for a free, fair and funded National Health Service.