Community Hospitals

17 January, 2006

MPs and local activists come together to fight for community hospitals

Local hospital campaigners from across the country joined forces yesterday in an attempt to prevent a wave of community hospital cuts and closures. Many Primary Care Trusts are in deficit and are under intense pressure to balance their books by April.

The result is likely to be front line cuts to many local community hospitals. Representatives of Leagues of Friends, local campaign groups, MPs, Councillors, community leaders, and residents, attended a one day seminar to share campaigning tips, build alliances and develop strategies to reverse the cutbacks to such vital, local health services.

The seminar comes less than ten weeks after the launch of CHANT (Community Hospitals Acting Nationally Together), a cross-party umbrella organisation set up to lobby Ministers, and raise awareness of the nation-wide threat to community hospitals. The group is chaired by Graham Stuart MP and the vice-chair is Boris Johnson MP. CHANT is supported by more than 40 MPs including Labour, Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Independent members. Chairman of CHANT, Graham Stuart MP, said:

‘This joint conference between CHANT and the Community Hospitals Association aims to support all those who are concerned about the future of their community hospital services. It will develop a network of support for campaigners who are battling hard to save their local health services.’

Over 80 community hospitals, including Townlands hospital in Henley, are currently under threat. The seminar included sessions on potential legal challenges to cutbacks and allowed campaigners to share tips and advice on working with the press and lobbying politicians.

Vice Chairman, Boris Johnson MP, commented:

‘It is appalling to see these vital hospitals facing such an unprecedented threat. If the Government persists with this policy, it should have the decency to explain the logic of this frankly bizarre decision to the British public, rather than continuing to hold up its hands and pointing the blame at the PCT’s, who are after all, unelected and unaccountable.’

6 thoughts on “Community Hospitals”

  1. I am , and , have always been,( with reason), a fan of the NHS, despite its many shortcomings. It is a gigantic organisation, which like many other public organisations ,is managed , at least in part, by committee.

    Committees are, by their very nature , not easy to work with, or even for, since it is seldom indeed, that unanimity in decision making is arrived at,at least without possibly harmful compromises being agreed upon.

    If a business is not able to balance the books, some radical method of making them balance must be formulated and followed through ,absolutely, if the business is to survive.

    It is naturally hard to imagine a hospital as a business, but, in essence, that is what it is.

    Merely throwing massive amounts of money at a perceived problem, without a viable solution, is not the answer.
    Often the higher a budget is set, the more wastage will occur, if the existing levels of expenditure are not reviewed and corrected, as found necessary, on a regular basis.The resources are not limitless, depite some thoughts to the contrary.

    My own personal belief is that there are too many non medically qualified managers; each one interested in his own fiefdom; without a proper oversight as to the bigger, medical, picture. Too many unrealistic numerically meaningless targets are set, without thought that a hospital deals with patients, not numbers.

    The Matron of old ran a tight ship: why can’t this be the order of the day again. Perhaps, if this were the case , some hospitals in danger of closure would be withdrawn from the danger zone:permanently.

  2. Macarnie,

    If hospitals are to be run as businesses then surely they should be left to decide how to spend their money, as opposed to having restrictions such as PFI placed upon their infrastructure demands.

    Watching the debacle over the Barts PFI plan and the Paddington Basin project before it, not to mention the fortnightly breakdowns in Private Eye et al points to an NHS that is not run as a business, but an NHS that is run for business.

    It does seem to be a common theme in areas where PFI has appeared that land assets move from the crown to the private sector as a way of offsetting spiralling costs. School playing fields, Inland Revenue Offices, old hospital grounds. It does make me wonder when we’ll see unused tube tunnels sold.

    (And before someone points it out I am aware that some of the old tram stations in London are now in private hands, and used for document storage. I’ll put my train spotter notepad down now)

  3. In the case of Townlands Hospital, this was built with money from local people. When the NHS took it over, those people were not compensated. The hospital remained as a local hospital.

    Now, suddenly, an unelected and unaccountable “board” have decided that the hospital must go. They haven’t asked the people of Henley (actually, they have…the people said they like their hospital and want to keep it),but what use is public opinion in the grip of corporate mentality?

    I propose that the board are trying to sell what is, in fact, stolen property (stolen from the people of Henley by the government). This is a crime, and i demand the arrest of these NHS management bounders! (all offences have been arrestable since January 1st of this year).

    No, really. Give the s something to think about. The little sons of .

    With bells on!

  4. Psimon, wasn’t there talk a while back of turning the unused portions on the right of the site into flats?

    Now there would be a best of both worlds solution ….

  5. I heard something about that, but you know the way THAT will go…they’ll sell it to someone for 10p, who will build flats that will sell for £1.5 million. (As happened to another local hospital a short while back…).

    They will disguise it as “a need for local housing”, without taking into account that it will house no locals.

    And the hospital will get closed anyway.

    Ok, so I may be being cynical. My response? What keeps happening that makes me this way…?

    Ah well. I suppose democracy, like altruism, doesn’t really exist.

    I have recently taken up voodoo (religious freedoms, and all that!). If anyone has photos and (if at all possible) any hair or nail clippings from the people who make these decisions (or the people who appoint the people who make these decisions), i would be most grateful.

  6. G’day Boris, just wondered what is happening with CHANT, and suggesting putting a link on your page to it. I attended the launch at the House, with the team from Cranleigh Village Hospital Trust. We are threatened by our bankrupt,incompetent PCT with imminent closure despite having a full (free to them) rebuild plan in action. Closure would destroy the staff base and make life very difficult later, amongst other minor problems.What happened to the proposed march? Do we have any other action plans? We have a very strong support base locally, but the PCT are obdurate. Suggestions please? Best regards.

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