Cornishman Article September 2017
Cornishman Column September 2017
As summer draws to a close and Poldark seekers begin to drift back across the Tamar, we reflect on what we have been hearing from local people whilst out and about in Penwith.
The clear message we have been getting is that people really care about having services close to home and sorely miss their community hospitals at Poltair and Edward Hain. What is more, many are ready and willing to put on their marching boots and tell the decision makers what matters to them. The difficulty that they have, is not knowing who the decision makers are. We have a Clinical Commissioning Group, Trust Chairs and Chief Executives, a Council Scrutiny Committee and a Transformation Board, whose meetings, interestingly, are not open to the public.
Even for health service anoraks, who read policy documents and ask awkward questions at Board Meetings, the structures appear unfathomable. These complex edifices seem deliberately designed to confuse and misdirect public opinion.
An example of this can be seen in ‘Shaping our Future’, the Transformation Board’s re-branding of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) which was robustly challenged in heated meetings at St John’s Hall and other venues across Cornwall earlier this year. Following this a ‘new’ engagement process has been set up with only ‘invited’ participants. Workshops present participants with selective and questionable statistics, which seem designed to reach an agreed position that hospital beds are outdated and community hospitals can close. This is not the will of local people, but the implementation of central government policy under the smokescreen of ‘localism’. It is about localising the responsibility for making cuts, while the decision that there will be cuts is made in Westminster.
Nigel Edwards, former Policy Director of the NHS Confederation, recently slammed this policy in a report for the Nuffield Trust. He wrote that STPs are expected to reduce the number of hospital beds despite predicted population growth which would indicate a need to increase beds, rather than decrease them.
With no community hospital beds in Penwith, there is a hole in our services. People in need of rehabilitation who are not well enough to go home but not ill enough for an acute hospital bed get stuck in Treliske or are sent miles away from their home. This puts pressure on Treliske and West Cornwall hospital and impacts on the quality of patients’ experiences.
In a recent spat with Jeremy Hunt, Professor Stephen Hawking asked whether “the public can make its democratic demands for proper funding undeniable”.
Will the Transformation Board and our MP answer that question for the many people who are signing our petition “demanding the re-provision of community hospital beds in Penwith”?
It’s on our website www.westcornwallhealthwatch.com.
Kath Maquire and Jan Williams 31/08/17