Weston Labour Party are calling on comrades across the South West for help in their campaign to protest A&E Closure in their town. A statement today read “Bridgwater, Wells ,North Somerset, and of all Constituencies fighting the cuts to our NHS imposed by this Conservative Government. What happens to one of us today will surely happen to another tomorrow.”

Weston General Hospital A&E Overnight Closure

The statement continued “As you must be aware we have lost our A&E provision at Weston General Hospital between 10pm and 8am. Though the announcement carried the term ‘temporary’ we have it from a significantly reliable source that it will be closed overnight for at least a year and that the A&E model will be restructured before it is reopened with a different type of provision. This affects all constituencies relying on Weston General Hospital directly. It affects other constituencies indirectly. Bristol and Taunton for example will take the extra load in their already understaffed hospitals leading to longer queues and exhausted staff. The knock on effect has our service suffering a domino effect across the region and across the country with each area hospital placing extra load

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Autumn Campaign

Weston Labour Party has several activities lined up  in early September to protest this closure.

September 2nd – 10am – 2.30pm. They plan to petition for the re-opening of Weston General A&E overnight service in Weston town centre, based at their gazebo.

September 4th – 8.30pm. They will hold a candlelit vigil outside Weston General Hospital to commemorate 2 months of Closure. This will happen every month until they have overnight provision reinstated.

September 5th – 9am. They will hold a protest outside Weston General Hospital because the Trust Board members turn up for their 10am meeting.

There are also plans to hold public meetings during September and October .

Annie Higgs, Secretary, Weston-super-Mare CLP said “I’m giving you this information on behalf of our CLP because you are also affected and we want you to come and join us in our actions. Can you please let your members, friends and neighbours know that every person who joins us is welcome. We need all the people, members and none members we can muster to fight this.  We have to let the people of our constituencies know what’s happening to their NHS provision. Thank you in advance for your support.”

On Tuesday January 10th, North Somerset Constituency Labour Party gathered for our regular monthly meeting which this month was focussed on the NHS and the ongoing crisis which threatens to overwhelm local services.

Veteran NHS Campaigner, Steve Timmins,  presented an overview of how the current crisis has developed, while Martin Hime, former GP and Chair of the Constituency Party, gave us the benefit of his insight into the impact on local services, while providing some hints and tips on what local people can do.

You can listen to their talks below.

Steve Timmins – The NHS. How did we end up here?

Dr Martin Hime – What we can do to protect our NHS in North Somerset

This Saturday, January 21st, North Somerset Labour Party will be out on the streets in Portishead, Nailsea and Clevedon, talking to people about their experiences and raising awareness of the terrible, developing impact of the government policy on the NHS.

North Somerset Constituency Labour Party Meeting
7.30pm
January 10th 2017
The Railway Inn, Station Road, Yatton

The Sustainability and Transformation Plan – How it will affect the NHS in North Somerset? (PDF)

Right now Jeremy Hunt’s Department of Health is bringing in “Sustainability and Transformation Plans” (STPs) to cut yet more costs in our NHS.  Across the country:

  • They are trying to cut England’s major A&E Departments from over 150 to fewer than 50.
  • They are trying to say that people can be cared for in the community.
  • They are trying to force our council to implement these changes.
  • They are pretending to give them new money – but it’s not new, it’s coming out of existing NHS budgets.
  • They have already slashed our council’s budgets for adult social care, mental care, and community care, with huge cuts in financial support for our elderly relatives in Care Homes.
  • Do you really believe that people will be cared for in the community?  Or do you think it’s just another way of cutting costs?

Remember:

  • If you’re having a baby…
  • If you’ve been injured in an accident…
  • If your cough is getting worse and worse…
  • If an operation is the only alternative…
  • If it’s the diagnosis you really didn’t want to hear…
  • It’s the NHS that’s always there for you
  • And it’s been there for you ever since 1948
  • But if you want your children and your grandchildren to be cared for in the same way you have to fight to keep it.
  • After all, It’s our NHS and it’s for all of us.  This government doesn’t want us to have our NHS.  They think we should all have private health insurance

Please join us at our Constituency Labour Party meeting on January 10th where retired GP, Dr Martin Hime, will lead the debate on what we can do to protect our NHS in North Somerset.

It has become a regular event that is becoming known as ‘Take out the trash day‘, and it refers to the now familiar process by which the government releases a whole lot of new information and data into the public domain on the last day of parliament, with the (intended) consequence that proper scrutiny by MPs or the media is prevented.

The event in July 2016 was no exception and you can check out this article for a sense of which reports, reviews and surveys they tried to bury on this ocassion.

Hidden in plain sight among this mountain of dense and inaccessible documentation was an innocuous sounding release from NHS England, ‘Strengthening Financial Performance and Accountability 2016/2017‘ (pdf).

The only significant coverage it received was from Chris Cook l on Newsnight on July 21st (37 minutes into the program which you can see here for a limited time) and since we have a great deal of NHS experise in the constituency, we ask one of our members Dr Martin Hime for his view. Here it is.

Disclaimer: Members’ Voice is an opportunity for North Somerset Labour Party Members to express their views on the issues which are important to them. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the membership and should not be interpreted in that way.

This Document is a reaction to the long term underfunding of the NHS. It outlines plans for both commissioning and provider organisations to become more financially responsible and accountable. It argues that the £1.8 billion to be injected into the NHS market system over the 2016-17 year will come with strings attached. The clinical commissioning groups will have to work within the financial limits set by central government or face being labelled as “in special measures”. North Somerset CCG has already been placed in this category. Provider Trusts will no longer be fined but will be given centrally defined “performance review trajectories” in the hope that their various politically sensitive targets will be met.

This is another attempt by the Government to deal with the problems created by the dysfunctional market orientated system. The £1.8 billion is not new money but will come out of other public health and social care budgets. Hunt remains wedded to the idea of a 7day NHS – an entirely unrealistic, uncosted concept whose rationale was based on the false interpretation of mortality evidence. The requirement for the NHS to make £22billion efficiency savings by 2020 remains in place and the byzantine management structure created by the Health and Social Care act continues to waste money that should be spent on patient care.

So what will this initiative do for commissioning? It will certainly create huge stresses and uncertainties in the commissioning groups. The chances that motivated GPs will be involved in commissioning in the future will diminish. The impossibility of the CCGs being able to buy the services that communities need within the budget restraints will become more obvious (maybe a good thing). CCGs will be motivated to further restrict the services that are provided by the NHS and the fiction that they are independent bodies will be further eroded.

Provider organisations will no longer be fined but will have to adhere to the extremely strict requirements dictated by the document in order to qualify for the “Sustainability and Transformation Fund”. This, in the context of a gross underfunding will further undermine the morale of NHS staff that are trying to maintain the service.

The document demonstrates the failure of the Government’s strategy on the NHS. Rather than dealing with the real reasons why the NHS is in crisis, it tries to force those that are attempting to manage it into doing the impossible.  An under-funded market driven NHS will not work. No amount of coercion will change that.

Martin Hime
26/7/16

This petition asks that Liam Fox resign from his position as Patron of North Somerset Mencap – it is surely questionable that someone can be on the board of a governing body of a disability organisation while also voting in Parliament for cuts to disability benefits. At the time of writing, this petition already has 166 signatures – can we make it to 1000?

A few more petitions which you might be interested in

Reverse the ESA disability benefit cut

Stephen Crabb. RESIGN as Mencap Patron Pembs immediately. Voted for disabled to lose £30 a week ESA.

Scrap plans to force state schools to become academies

Free feminine sanitary products for all women.

To: The Editor

North Somerset Times

In response to J.Hughes’s letter (NS Times Jan. 27th 2016), my first concern was that Nigel Ashton used a council funded publication to misrepresent the reasons why people are fleeing the Middle East. He questions whether Europe should be expected to receive migrants from this war torn area when Britain’s military interventions in the region have been instrumental in creating the current migration crisis.

He argues that migrants create funding problems for the NHS and housing. The NHS’s funding problems and the housing crisis have been caused by years of under-investment, not by migrants. Even the most superficial look at the health, caring and service sectors confirms that, without immigration, these organisations could not function. The lack of funds for health and social care has resulted from political decisions. Britain is an extremely rich country that can afford to maintain the housing and health of its population. It’s just that the government has decided that money is better spent on increasing property prices, letting large corporations off their tax liabilities and protecting the banks.

Hughes cites the events in Cologne as a reason to be wary of accepting migrants. What happened in Germany were appalling criminal acts that should be treated as such. Citing these events in relation to immigration policy in this country is more likely to exacerbate rather than resolve integration problems. Lets not go down the Donald Trump road.

The world economy relies on the free movement of capital and labour and migration is part of this system. Because of the enormous, and growing gap between the rich and the poor there will be immigration pressures on rich countries that have to be managed. We, of course are very selective in who we choose to let in. Sometimes we want low skilled workers but mostly we take the brightest and best from countries that can ill afford to lose them.

The world is blighted by inequality and war. Mass migration is a consequence of this. The rich country’s migration problems are trifling compared with what is happening elsewhere. North Somerset is not exempt from offering humanitarian responses to an international crisis. Hughes may not be a xenophobe but she or he certainly needs to think more about the migration problem

Dr Martin Hime

Chair, North Somerset Constituency Labour Party