Press Release 28th March 2014
A Shropshire-wide Defend Our NHS campaign was launched yesterday (27th March), at a packed Peoples Assembly meeting in Shrewsbury Abbey.
The campaign is launched in response to an escalating crisis in the NHS, locally and nationally.
Gill George, spokesperson for the new campaign, said “The immediate threat is to the A&E. It’s clear that NHS bosses have already taken a decision to close one of the A&Es. That would be a disaster. Once you close an A&E, you rip the heart out of a hospital. The intensive care unit closes at the same time, and that means the end of consultant-led maternity services, most surgery, and care for anyone who is seriously ill. It’s about closing down a hospital”.
NHS bosses have already started transferring services out of the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital. Children’s inpatient services are moving to the Princess Royal at Telford, along with consultant-led maternity services and many gynaecology services. Gill George said “It looks like Shrewsbury Hospital is already being run down, in preparation for closing the A&E. It doesn’t matter which way round it is, though: Shrewsbury or Telford. If you close either A&E, we all lose out. A lot of us will travel further for emergency care, the A&E that stays is completely over-loaded, and one of our hospitals gets run down and closed. Our campaign is committed to defending both A&Es and both our hospitals, as well as making sure we’ve got decent community NHS services across the county. We’re opposed to privatising the NHS too. We want an NHS that’s there for patients, not for big business”.
Gill said “The research evidence is that people die if they travel a long distance to get to A&E. Of course you need specialist services for some emergency patients, and we support that, but that doesn’t mean you have to risk the lives of other people. We’ve already got an under-resourced ambulance service, and journey times that are very, very high in our rural areas. These plans will make things worse. This is about cuts, not high quality care. They’ve suddenly come up with this idea of a possible ‘new super hospital’ as a sweetener for short-term cuts, but it’s not going to happen with £30 billion being stripped out of the NHS. If this is for real, they need to identify the funding and guarantee new services before they start closing down what we’ve got”.
Gill added, “This isn’t good enough. School nursing services in Telford and Wrekin could be privatised. We’re going to lose one of our A&Es, and most of the hospital with it. Have they asked us if this is what we want? I don’t think so. We need to make sure that consultation is real, not the usual ‘tick the box’ sham. Our campaign is about making sure ordinary people get a voice”.