Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Are They Running Scared?

April 2017
Dear Supporter,

Who is telling the truth? For nearly 5 years Save Our Hospitals has been campaigning, with local residents, to keep Charing Cross Hospital open as a major acute hospital. In 2014, a Labour administration was elected to a large extent because they promised to fight to keep Charing Cross open.

Now, after all this time, the  NW London collaboration of CCGs (i.e. the health bosses for NW London) and Imperial College Healthcare Trust (of which CX is part) have decided to challenge Steve Cowan, leader of H&F Council (pictured above at the NHS demo).

Health bosses claim that 'there have never been any plans to close Charing Cross Hospital'. But they go on to say that there is 'a clear commitment that there will be no reduction in Charing Cross's A&E department or wider services within the lifetime of the [STP] plan (that runs until April 2021)'.

Let's look at what is being claimed! First, at both CCG meetings and at Imperial Board meetings, when challenged about the future of CX, Health bosses admit that, while there has been a stay of execution, the plans to close CX as a major acute hospital are still in place. Further, they acknowledge not just that there will be very few beds at CX (a loss of 300+) but also that what remains will be considerably less than what the general public thinks of as a hospital! They say it will be a 'local' hospital - but can't tell us much about what this may be. Few beds, a facility for elderly (as yet undefined), an Urgent Care Centre - but no blue light ambulances, no acute beds and no consultants on site.

To claim, as health bosses are doing, that this means that the hospital has never been marked for closure and that it is now safe because they can't safely 'downgrade' it, is really playing with words.

The fact is, that plans to close Charing Cross and its sister hospital, Ealing, have only been put on hold because it is NOT SAFE to close them when there is an ongoing A&E and bed crisis across NW London. Rather than attack the council, the CCG should withdraw the STP which aims to cut huge amounts from health provision for NW London residents.

We fully support the Council in its fight to save Charing Cross as a major acute hospital. They were elected to do this!

For those who have received the H&F window bill, we'd love you to put it up in your window if you haven't already done so. We also have copies if you need one! Although SOH is not party political, we do support the current administration in their fight for OUR hospital.


          ENDLESS CUTS?

In our last newsletter, we updated you on the major cuts resulting from the STP - based on health bosses' own figures - for job losses, planned admissions, outpatient appointments and hospital beds. 

We have now discovered, at the last CCG Board meeting, that the CCG is under major financial pressure. CCGs are legally required to balance their books. It is now the case that the H&F CCG needs to find £16.39m - £7m more than was predicted - in 'savings' in the coming financial year. And this position is, apparently, similar across the 8 CCGs in NW London.

Commissioners were unable to say, in the meeting, just where these 'savings' could be found. However, it is probable that cuts to health provision, rationing of treatments and cuts to staffing are increasingly likely. We will monitor this as well as we are able and keep you informed. We will continue to support NHS staff who are working under impossible pressures and increasingly asked to do more for less. And we will continue to work with other campaigners across NW London and nationally to protect the NHS.

It is worth reminding supporters that the amount of GDP spend on the NHS is significantly lower that that spent in most other European countries - and about half that spend in the USA.
Campaigners gathered near Brompton Hospital on March 18th to protest against the plans to close the prestigious congenital heart disease services at Royal Brompton. This was a very lively demonstration, with full support from Brompton staff and governing body, as well as from parents, patients, politicians and local people. The lively carnival atmosphere showed the determination of all these campaigners not to lose yet another health provision.

You can read more details on the Brompton website: http://www.rbht.nhs.uk/about/news-events/thousands-march-to-save-royal-brompton-services-from-closure/ 


12th April     Open Planning Meeting - 7.30-9.30pm Hammersmith TH

We welcome anyone interested in our campaign to join us and help plan our activities.

22nd April    Shepherd's Bush Market, 2.00-4.00pm. Uxbridge Rd end

29th April     North End Rd Spring Fair, 10 am - 4 pm.

This is always a fun event - come when you can and join the fun!

Best wishes,
Chair, SOH
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