Imagine you are waiting to have an important operation and then, when you are passing by the hospital on the way to work, you see a gang of thieves stealing hundreds of pristine beds (frames, pillows, sheets and mattresses too). You witness a handful of tired looking doctors doing their best to retrieve their life saving beds, but the callous thieves simply laugh in their faces as they make their get-away.
Sadly this is a fairly accurate descriptions of what is already happening to Leicester’s hospitals. The criminals, however, prefer not to get their hands dirty themselves. Instead they use hospital workers themselves to carry through their cuts, all in the name of privatisation and, apparently, all because of a malignant illness called austerity.
Yet is plain to see that this so-called austerity malady is just a code for a wealth (and health) transfusion from the majority to the few. Locally, the Government say the NHS must accept a £400 million cut in annual funding.
In hospitals, our beds are being plundered, while at the same time our doctor surgeries are being forced into closure by brutal funding cuts. Of course it is not the rich who suffer from such attacks, but the normal working-class people of Leicester.
Maples Surgery in Evington Road has just been closed (or rather stolen), and now we are being told that Queen’s Road Medical Centre, in Clarendon Park, must be lost to our thieving Government (January 30, Leicester Mercury).
Nationally, GPs already undertake 90% of patient contact that takes place in the NHS, but, with GP funding falling to a historic low, the Government continues to increase their workloads whilst reducing their numbers.
Until 2013 almost all GP trainee vacancies were filled, but escalating budget pilfering has meant that in 2014 over one in ten GP vacancies were left empty. These results are catastrophic for the majority of ordinary people.
In response, the British Medical Association (BMA) has just organised a special conference to discuss the crisis in General Practice, and how this issue might be resolved in a way that provides justice.
Unfortunately, as can be seen by the example of our hospitals, the thieves, having been caught red-handed stealing from our NHS, refuse to even acknowledge their crime — hence on Wednesday (February 10) the BMA have been forced into taking their second day of strike action.
Crime does not pay, unless, that is, people let you get away with it. Therefore, our local Labour MPs and Councillors must take a firm stand against the increasingly arrogant plunderers in our midst.
Local communities are already fighting back against GP cuts, so the least our politicians can do is contribute to the common good by helping build a public campaign to demand that the criminals get their greedy mitts off all our services.
Now is the time to get involved. First sign the petition against the closure of local GP surgeries. Petitions are not enough, however. Make sure you attend the forthcoming public meetings/protests to discuss how to effectively fights back against government cuts.
The first will be held at Leicester University on February 8, from 6pm until 8pm, with speakers from the BMA, student nurses, and the Fire Brigades Union, and the second at the Quaker Meeting House, Queen’s Road, on Thursday, February 11, from 6pm to 8pm.
Labour-run Leicester City Council can play an important role in coordinating any fight-back against the Government, but are extremely unlikely to do so unless pressed. This is why it is also important to join the lobby of the Council’s budget-setting meeting on February 24, 4.30pm, Town Hall Square.
This letter was emailed to the Leicester Mercury mailbox on February 6.
As Dave Shelley explains in his brilliant letter published in the Leicester Mercury (February 5):
“Leicester’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) says it plans and manages healthcare services for people in Leicester. In the press, its spokesman has blamed funding. But as the planners and managers, the CCG members need to take their responsibility seriously, step up and save this practice.”