SW London NHS’s Better Services Better Value cuts body has announced a delay to its recommendations of which two A&E and maternity services should be closed in our local hospitals. The cuts were meant to be announced last Thursday, but now won’t be published until at least the end of March.
The announcement came as 200 people attended a meeting in Carshalton, organised by local MPs, to grill the BSBV panel. One audience member called for a vote of no confidence in BSBV, which was unanimously agreed by everyone in the room. In the weeks before, some 500 met to challenge the cuts review in Epsom, while Mitcham MP Siobhan McDonagh called a meeting at parliament which 300 of her constituents attended.
Residents in Sutton delivered a petition signed by 7000 people to the BSBV office, demanding no cuts to St Helier hospital. And BSBV was finally forced to delay its recommendations after accusations that it had deliberately excluded medical professionals who disagreed with service closures from the decision-making process.
It’s clear that there is a mood building against the NHS cuts in SW London. Some 1000 people have attended anti-BSBV meetings over the last few weeks, while over 200 people marched against the cuts and closures in Kingston. There’s the clear potential for a movement against NHS cuts locally.
The delay to the cuts review is a clear victory for those who have attended the angry public meetings over the past week on put the pressure on local politicians to call for BSBV to be halted or scrapped. But we have to understand that this is only a temporary stay of execution for our local NHS – a 24% cut to the local hospitals budget means that health bosses will continuously come back to push through closures.
We need to use the extra time accorded by this decision to organise networks of people on the ground who can build the campaigns to save our hospitals and protect against any the potential sell-out by local politicians. In Hammersmith, the local Conservatives have put out a leaflet to every house in the borough, telling residents that their A&E has been “saved”, despite the fact that it is suffering the same downgrading that the local Tories have been promising to fight for months – only a strong network of health campaigners can stop similar things happening in this part of the Capital.
The Save Our Hospitals demonstration in Kingston last Saturday shows the way – we need a strong Keep Our NHS Public across SW London that can pile on the pressure to break the cuts review and stop the local hospital closure dead. If you want to be part of that, come to the Keep Our NHS Public action meeting this Monday.
Kingston Keep Our NHS Public action meeting
7pm Monday 25th February @ JG1001, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston KT1 2EE.