Friday 15 June 2012

Campaign launched to save Central Middlesex Hospital

The overnight closure of the Accident and Emergency service at Park Royal's Central Middlesex Hospital is likely to be the first step in running down the hospital and its eventual closure a Harlesden meeting was told last week.

North West London NHS is currently consulting on an amalgamation of Ealing, Central Middlesex and Northwick Park hospitals and it looks as if Harlesden and Stonebridge, the poorest areas in Brent may lose their local hospital and have to travel to A and E at Northwick Park, despite very poor public transport links. It is likely that A and E at Ealing, Charing Cross and Hammersmith may also close.

John Lister addresses the meeting
 John Lister, from the London Health Emergency has been commissioned by Ealing, Brent and Harrow Trade Union Councils, to write a report on the likely impact of the cost-cutting changes. The report will be available soon and a condensed version will be distributed as a tabloid newspaper.

Lister said that the pattern was one of a gradual reduction of different services, starting with A and E, eventually leaving the hospital as an nearly empty shell, which is then closed because people are not using it and nurses and doctors are reluctant to apply for jobs there,

With £314m cuts to be made by NW London NHS by 2015 the hospital closures are just the beginning. Stressing that decisions are being made in order to balance the books, and not on clinical grounds, Lister said that 1,750 jobs will go in the near future, of which 1,000 are clinical.

The aim is to direct patients to 'lower cost' settings, including the setting in which you die. That setting may be your front room and the carer yourself. Jargon such as 'pathway redesign' and 'corporate efficiency' conceal an overall strategy to reduce the number of patients seeking treatment and to restrict access to expensive treatments. The target is to reduce emergency cases annually to a level equivalent to 391 hospital beds and a 22% cut in out-patient appointments.

A further aim is to introduce private providers into the service so that the NHS, the largest public sector organisation, is open to exploitation for profit. The NHS will be left with A & E and maternity services, which are 'too dangerous' for private companies but 'any qualified provider' will offer other services (Virgin, Sainsbury's) undermining pay structures and qualification systems. Lister stressed that with PCTs due to go,GP commissioners will be left holding the baby, but wouldn't have been responsible for the changes that have been made.

John Lister urged local people to use the consultation period to build a movement against the local changes AND against the privatisation of the NHS, lobbying GPs, MPs and local councillors.

Candy Unwin urges broad-based campaigning
 Candy Unwin from Camden Keep Our NHS Public recounted campaign success in saving Whittington Hospital . Different hospitals, cross party and non-party political groups, trades unions, tenants and unions had come together in a united campaign. She said that 1 in 6 Labour members of the house of Lords and 1 in 4 Tories get money from private companies and that 30 MPs get funding from Virgin, one of the main bidders.

Phil Rose, a regional official from UNITE, said that the changes would result in high quality provision for private patients and low quality for the rest of us. He said that one thing standing in the way of privatisation was NHS workers' terms and conditions which the private sector cannot match. The pensions changes was an attempt to reduce these conditions to make the sector attractive to the private sector. He urged support for the '68 is too late' campaign on retirement age and drew parallels with the creeping  privatisation of schools. Job cuts, down-grading of jobs and pay cuts were all in the offing.

In a powerful speech a member of the Methodist Church spoke about Harlesden being a poor area and needing and valuing its local hospital and pledged herself to make people aware of the situation. She said 'Some people are going to die because of these changes'.

 I spoke about the link between health and schools as not being just in terms of the privatisation issue, but also that schools were frequent users of A and E when children have accidents and reliant on accessible emergency treatment in incidents such as that at Chalkhill Primary (see below). With its many railway lines, the North Circular Road, Wembley Stadium, industry at Park Royal and Neasden, there was a risk of a major incident and we needed accessible emergency services to cope. Added to that, although things were quieter at present, there was the possibility of violence and the need for a hospital experiences, as Central Middlesex is, in the treatment of gun shot and knife injuries.

Graham Durham's suggestion of a march in September from Harlesden to Central Middlesex Hospital under the banner of Save Central Middlesex Hospital, Save North West London Health Services, was enthusiastically endorsed by the meeting as was a message of solidarity to doctors taking action on Thursday.


Unknown said...

Something I'd have added if there'd been more time at Wednesday's meeting, is that Central Middlesex and its A&E are at the centre of an industrial area. Though there are not the same amount of factories around as when I first came to the area, there are still a lot of people working nearby who would naturally turn to Park Royal hospital (as I still tend to call it) if they were taken ill or had an accident.
A few years ago a woman who lost a finger end to a defective machine at Kadouries was taken to Central Middx and dumped there with her finger in a paper bag, only to find she should have gone to another hospital to have a chance of it being stitched back. That is an argument for expanding facilities at the hospital, but instead the A&E is being reduced and could go, along eventually with the hospital.
When we consider that the government is cutting back on HSE factory inspections there is more chance there will be accidents. Add the proximity of the North Circular and railways which were mentioned on Wednesday, and we can see that cutting services let alone closing central Middlesex is plain irresponsible.

Martin Francis said...

Sarah Cox posted this comment via Facebook:

Every time I go to Central Middlesex, there is more evidence of private sector involvement. The Urgent Care Centre, with its entrance right next to the A & E entrance, so that people often mistake it for A & E, is run by Care UK. The chairman of Care UK donated £21,000 to help run Andrew Lansley's office in the lead up to the last election. MRI scans and CT scans are provided by two other private companies, but the company most in evidence at the hospital is G4S, the company that provides security for the Israeli government! That's what our NHS is coming to.

bigbreadeaterellis said...

This is my view...If any democratically elected government will see nothing wrong in allowing people to use tobacco to turn into cigarettes and cigars and despite the fact that in 1950 a report was written by Richard Doll who Highlighted the fact that there was a link between smoking and lung cancer, you would think that a responsible and caring and sensible principled group of politicians charged with the serious responsibility of running the country would have acted on that report by banning the sale and import sale and public use of tobacco in order to prevent unnecessary premature loss of lives right?
but instead it seems all they did was allow cigarettes and smoking to be promoted even more.
that irresponsible decision on the part of the British Government has caused many people to start a bad habit that virtually cost them their lives.
now you would think that no sensible human would ever decide to start paying for the means to literally destroy their health?
but that is exactly what they did then and continue to do now.
it really is a senseless habit smoking, and the reality is that everyone that smokes is literally paying for the means to destroy their own health so that the tobacco companies and the shopkeepers and the government make billions at the cost of people destroying their own lives.
now since this is a sad reality and it has become a sad reality because the sad reality is that the British government have betrayed the very ones they are meant to be serving.
they have also misused their authority by permitting the exploitation of the public and all for the sake of profit.
yes the reality @ least in the case of smoking is that the government have put profit before principle.
and look at the immense damage it has caused to human society.
and the amazing thing is this is meant to be a Christian country.
do the government and church leaders believe that the sacrifices they make @ easter and Christmas are of any value to god?
it is comparable to going to school 5 days a week and by the time you leave school you have learned nothing.
likewise it is in vain making time for god at easter and Christmas and calling ourselves a Christian nation while we permit unchristian practices and all for the sake of profit.
that clearly shows that despite deluding ourselves by calling ourselves Christians,by what we do clearly show that we have not learned anything about the purpose of Christianity.
and lastly since we are governed by wicked reckless unprincipled politicians, should we really express surprise when we see them taking a sword to the NHS.
the British Government have consistently shown their true colors and nature and we always suffer as a direct result.
it really is about time we stopped putting our trust in them.
because they they have shown that they are only good @ one thing and that is hurting people while grabbing as much money @ the same time to share amongst themselves and the ones they permit to hurt us such as the banks and tobacco business.