Cornishman Article for December 2017




As 2017 draws to a close, we look back at a difficult 12 months for our NHS in Cornwall, and worry about what the future holds for Cornish patients and their families.

We use the term OUR NHS advisedly.

The NHS is not the property of Health Minister, Jeremy Hunt, or the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust and Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust’s highly paid Chief Executive Officers. Neither does it belong to the GP Clinical Commissioning Group, but is owned by us, the public. It is something we all contribute to through taxes we pay on what we earn and on the things we buy.

We pay throughout our lives so, when we get ill, have an accident, require an operation, have a baby, the NHS is there for us. Whilst this government and Cornish MPs talk of rising NHS costs, in truth it has been continual top down reorganisations which have taken millions of pounds away from patient care, resulting in reductions in funding to services.

Understaffed services, overworked staff, cuts and closures are then used to justify government policies of privatisation, either directly or indirectly through joint ventures with private companies and charities. Meanwhile the introduction of personal health budgets or vouchers that can be topped up, instead of providing the personalised care we are promised, softens us up for a pay-to-use health service. If this sounds like conspiracy theory, check out Tory MP Oliver Letwin’s 1988 book entitled ‘Privatising the World’.

Even in the face of these attacks our NHS remains one of the best healthcare systems in the world, providing care on the grounds of need not of wealth.

In December 2016, we posed the question: ‘who can we trust with our NHS?’ as we reviewed Cornwall’s Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP). This plan, let’s not forget, was rejected by Cornwall Council as unfit for purpose.

The name of the plan has changed to ‘Shaping Our Future’ and we believe it will recommend what is known as an ‘Accountable Care Partnership’ (ACP). In this new power shuffle NHS and Council executives are currently fighting it out for top jobs.

So, can we trust the Health and Council bosses, who are not directly accountable to the people of Cornwall? Can we trust NHS Kernow, busy trimming our services to meet government spending targets? Can we trust our elected councillors to challenge the targeted closure of our community hospital beds?

Maybe the only people we can trust are ourselves. We realise that the NHS we love is under threat as never before. We demand that it remains public and urge you all to say clearly to your MP “OUR NHS IS NOT FOR SALE”.

Jan Williams and Kath Maguire 30/11/2017 (West Cornwall HealthWatch).