Tory MPs in revolt over local cuts – the NHS this week

By Richard Grimes

Tory MPs are getting restless and starting to revolt over NHS cuts. There are several units being closed due to cost and/or recruitment issues.

Campaigns

Campaigners in King’s Lynn say that plans to shut a local mental health unit to new patients may be a “stepping stone” towards permanent closure. However the trust says it is a “short term measure” due to poor staffing levels.

The Save the Alex campaign group in Redditch says that cost-cutting measures at the Alexandra Hospital would see services further reduced, effectively turning it into a cottage hospital. This could mean thousands of patients a year from the town facing long round trips to Worcestershire Royal A&E or to the Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham.

In Cumbria a campaign is growing to oppose plans to cut the number of beds in community hospitals, threatening cottage hospitals in Wigton, Brampton, Alston, Maryport and Keswick.

Three MPs – Green, Labour and Conservative – in Sussex have complained about the poor service by Coperforma who have recently started providing the patient transport service in the area.

All three Tory MPs in South Warwickshire have spoken out against the decision by the local CCG to competitively tender its community health services. Nadhim Zahawi and Chris White accused health service bosses of “wasting time and public money” on the tender process for the £227 million, seven year contract.

Tory MP, Kevin Foster, said he would oppose any plans by South Devon and Torbay CCG to close the cottage hospital in Paignton. The hospital has 28 beds, a minor injuries unit and an outpatients clinic.

Tory MP Jonathan Djanogly is organising a march through Huntingdon against a proposed merger between Hinchingbrooke Hospital and the Peterborough and Stamford NHS Trust.

A&E waiting times

A woman in Hartlepool described the NHS as a “shambles” after she waited nine hours on a trolley to be seen. The wait included time waiting for an ambulance to take her from a minor injuries unit to the hospital and the time waiting at the hospital for an x-ray.

A man in Grantham died in hospital after waiting three and a half hours for an ambulance.

On Thursday Northampton Hospital said it was under “intense pressure”, with 320 people being seen in A&E every day. Quarterly figures have risen 11 percent compared to last year.

Peterborough City Hospital called a “significant internal incident” and cancelled 13 operations on Tuesday because they had “no available bed space” in the hospital, saying that the Emergency Department is “operating at full capacity”.

The Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital was put on red alert this weekend, meaning that the increasing numbers of people attending A&E was putting demand on the number of beds. So far in April the hospital has had eight days on red alert and seven on amber. In the same period last year the hospital had 15 amber alerts and just one red alert.

The CCG in South Somerset reported that A&E at the county’s hospitals are “being increasingly stretched to deal with more and more patients”.

Darent Valley Hospital in Kent is “struggling to cope with the population spike caused by the increased population of the new development at Ebbsfleet Garden City”.

Privatisation

A renal consultant in Sussex has written to dialysis patients to urge them to continue to keep coming for treatment in spite of the poor service from Coperforma, the private company contracted to take patients to the unit. Some patients have complained of waiting more than five hours for transport. A driver working for Coperforma said they “are a total shower, they’re out of their depth”, another driver said “when I was a South East Coast Ambulance driver we would transport 18 patients a day, now it’s four or five. Yesterday we only did two”.

NHS England have announced that they will investigate the plan by CCGs in Staffordshire to privatise cancer services.

In Blackpool a row has broken out after it emerged that payments to a private hospital have increased by 33 percent (£2 million) for a mere 2.6 percent increase in patients.

In Staffordshire the private company providing hearing services, Regional Hearing Specialists Ltd, has decided to cease trading at the end of the month. This will affect 5,000 patients attending 16 clinics across the area.

Cuts

  • The Camp Hill urgent care centre in Nuneaton is set to close on June 1st.
  • NHS services in Cornwall will face cuts of £50 million this year due to NHS England demanding Kernow CCG make “savings” of 7 percent.
  • London North West Healthcare NHS Trust has a deficit of £100 million which it expects to reduce to £61.5 million by next March by cutting 140 staff.
  • Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust say that last financial year they had a deficit of £10 million. The trust has two PFI schemes – one for 32 years and the other for 63 years, which in total cost the trust £44 million a year.
  • Bury CCG have decided to cut the level of weekly fees it will pay for residential care from £750 to £447.48. This was described as “derisory” by a charity that provides a care home in the area: “Effectively, Bury is creating a two-tier system based on ability to pay for something that fundamentally should be free and is a cornerstone of our NHS. How can that be justified?”
  • Warrington Hospital will have to close a rehabilitation ward which has been held up as a national model, due to cuts to the hospital’s funding by Warrington CCG.
  • Two pathologists have resigned from the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch in advance of the closure of the histopathology department at the hospital.
  • A review of children’s and maternity services have recommended merging services at Yeovil District Hospital and Dorset County Hospital casting doubt over the continuation of these services at Dorset. However, Yeovil Hospital say that the merger is “not in the best interests of the majority of their patients”.
  • Liver transplants in Leeds have had to be cancelled due to a shortage of critical care nurses.
  • A 17 bed community hospital ward in Medhurst is being temporarily closed “after a recent deterioration in staffing levels meant that it could no longer guarantee patient safety”.
  • Two GP practices in Suffolk have applied to NHS England for temporary permission to stop accepting new patients because of sustainability issues. Earlier this year four other practices in Suffolk also closed their patient lists because of the GP recruitment crisis.
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