Cornishman Article for February 2017
2017 has kicked off with the people of Penwith showing their concern about what is happening to our local health and social care services.
The STP engagement event at St Johns Hall had one of the largest attendances of all the events scheduled throughout Cornwall. The open public meeting chaired by Andrew George the following week, saw a similar turnout. We believe that the Friends of Edward Hain in St Ives are soon to organise a meeting about the continued closure of its 12 community beds.
Meanwhile our local newspapers, radio and television are full of A+E black alerts, delayed discharges, hospital closures in Devon, the plight of our mental health services and lack of social care.
There is no doubt that the provision of health and social care services are reaching crisis point. There is a consensus building that “something must be done”. What that ‘something’ should be, of course, is open to debate.
The public relations spin from Government, NHS England and to their eternal shame, Cornwall’s health bosses and NHS Kernow, tells us that our NHS beds are ‘out of date and unaffordable’. Cue the appearance of the ‘so called’ local STP which is heavy on ‘vision’, light on detailed costings and seriously short on evidence.
Unsurprisingly, it is supported and promoted by local MPs as an ‘opportunity’, which leads us neatly into what Cornwall’s MPs have been saying and more importantly doing over the last few weeks.
Our own Derek Thomas despite talking about more money being needed and empathising with undervalued health workers and poorly paid carers, voted in the House of Commons against increasing the budget for health and social care, as did the other 5 Tory MPs.
Let’s be absolutely clear here, the level of resources committed to health and social care is always a political choice. It would seem that our MPs support the continued underfunding of services and the government’s policy of forcing Cornwall to cut services in order to make savings of around £264 million.
We say the crisis has been caused by successive governments re-organising our health service to the brink of extinction and adopting a relentless policy of marketization. This has fragmented, undermined and turned our health care into a commodity for private companies to pick over like vultures. The 2012 Health and Social Care Act which cost millions of pounds to implement and set GP’s up as commissioners has been a spectacular failure in terms of delivering efficiency savings.
Where does this leave us? Maybe with a march through Cornwall saying NO to CUTS but YES to an INTEGRATED HEALTH AND SOCIAL CARE SERVICE, that is properly funded!
Contact us on our website, westcornwallhealthwatch.com with your thoughts!