Cornishman Article for April 2017

March has been a busy month for West Cornwall HealthWatch.  At least 500 members of the public passed through the doors of our Pop-Up Shop, all keen to talk about the future of the NHS and Cornwall’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP).

Overwhelmingly the message received was that services are needed locally. The loss of community hospital beds in Penwith was highlighted as were difficulties in getting to Treliske. There was widespread agreement that problems accessing care in a rural area like Penwith and the Isles of Scilly, should be taken into consideration during decision-making.

 Our straw poll which asked for a simple ‘Yes, No, or Don’t Know’ response to the statement “I want West Cornwall Hospital to retain its 24/7 Urgent Care Centre” resulted in 503 people voting ‘Yes’ with one ‘Don’t Know’.

Saturday 4th was a national day of support for the NHS and West Cornwall as usual did itself proud. 9am saw around 100 people come together in St Just to make music and vocalise their support for Cornwall’s NHS. At midday, hundreds of people gathered around Penzance’s Humphry Davy Statue before  marching down to the train station with banners flying led by the Golowan Band.

It felt like carnival time and those of us carrying on to Truro to join others from all over Cornwall, were entertained on the platform and even inside the train, as the wonderful Golowan band gave us a true West Cornwall send-off.

Arriving back in Penzance, we were greeted with the news that the Pop-Up Shop had seen record numbers of people that day and more than 300 cards had been signed over 5 days for Derek Thomas MP, with another 50 for George Eustice MP and various local councillors. The cards asked them to fight for Cornwall’s NHS and Social Care by lobbyingfor a fairer funding settlement for Cornwall, ensuringthat it’s health services are run for public good and not private profit and demanding an urgent increase in funding.

So where does this leave Cornwall’s STP? Crucially on the 15th March, Cornwall’ s Health and Adult Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee called into question the accuracy, achievability and viability of the plan. It also ruled that the STP Outline Business Case was “not fit for purpose as a public document” and the engagement process was “poor and ill judged”.

As to the STP board’s response to the Council’s damning report, rather than make meaningful changes, a rebranding exercise seems to be taking place. Cornwall’s plan is no longer to be called an STP but the more PR friendly ‘Taking Control, Shaping Our Future’.  A triumph of style over substance if ever we saw one!



Copyrighted to West Cornwall HealthWatch.

Jan Williams and Graham Webster 30/03/2017