If you do one thing this week, then make sure you get along to the protest against the threatened closure of Glenfield Heart Unit this Thursday at the Tigers’ Stadium from 4.30pm onwards. NHS England need a gentle reminder that we will not be letting them close any heart units without a serious fight!
Let’s recap some basic fairly uncontested facts. NHS England and the Government say that funding is increasing for the NHS, and that our health service is in safe hands. But pretty much everyone else knows that the Government are failing to give the NHS enough money to keep us safe. Hence a quarter of a million people protested in London last weekend to defend the NHS from our Government of serial healthcare cutters.
Trade union reports suggest that each and every year the super-rich fail to hand over £100 billion a year to the Government in tax. So for the Government to say that we all have to tighten our belts to keep the NHS afloat is utter rubbish; it is the fat-cat profiteers who have to learn to tighten their belts, not us. It is the corporate fat-cats whose waistline should be squeezed, not our health services!
Apparently NHS England just want to help us improve our country’s health services, not legitimize Government funding cuts, which explains why their latest consultation document is titled “Proposals to implement standards for congenital heart disease for children and adults in England.”
In the foreword to NHS England’s proposals we find out that the “principle for our work has always been ‘patients come first’.” With unrelenting enthusiasm the document adds:
“Now is the time for decisive action. We have an opportunity to future-proof [Congenital Heart Defect] CHD services, by ensuring that the standards are met… We must not squander this opportunity. Equally, however, we must ensure that our commissioning decisions are informed by the views of patients and their families and carers, by clinicians and other hospital staff, and by other stakeholders.”
“This is why we want to hear from you,” they continue. They then remind us that although the public might be worried about the massive underfunding of the NHS and the related ongoing crisis that is crushing our NHS, no decisions about closures have been made. NHS England are apparently simply consulting on potential closures that they think will improve standards! They inform us that “some important points which you might want to consider” when considering their ludicrous proposals include:
- “No decisions about the future commissioning of CHD services have been taken. The proposals published in July were just that – proposals.” This is good to know, as if NHS England’s proposals are just that, then NHS England won’t be too bothered about us rejecting their proposals outright!
- “You will already know that money is tight in the NHS, and the NHS has to live within its means,” they warn, by which NHS England mean that the NHS must accept that it must continue without adequate funding because establishment politicians don’t feel that they would like to reverse the ongoing privatisation of our health services. All the same, NHS England feel the need to remind the public that their proposed cuts are “not about saving money.” To reassure the public they add “we expect the overall amount of money spent on CHD care to increase in the future…” Of course, such a promise is not all that reassuring given that the government says they have increased NHS funding (true) — although they have not increased funding in line with inflation and the actual amount of money that our health service needs to survive.
- NHS England’s “proposals are not about closing CHD units” it is just about meeting arbitrary standards that mean that the heart units in England will have to be reduced. So they reiterate, our proposals are not about closures, it is just that the standards dictate that closures must happen!
- And finally, although NHS England accept that fact that the NHS will have to “live within the means” dictated to us by a Government intent on starving our health services to death, their consultation on heart units apparently intends to focus “on the long-term resilience and sustainability of CHD services for generations to come.” But it is hard to believe that if they NHS had the money it needed to grow and flourish that the thought of closing heart units would ever be consulted on.
In summary, NHS England “recognise the cloud of uncertainty which hangs over these services as a result” of their consultation process, and note “We need to put an end to this uncertainty, for everybody’s sake.” So far so good, as the best way NHS England could put an end to this uncertainty would be to listen to the 130,000 people who signed the petition to keep the heart unit open; NHS England might then decide to draw up an alternative set of proposals which demand that the Government fund the NHS adequately.
NHS England conclude the foreword to their consultation report by saying: “as you read this document, we hope that you will keep the future long -term stability of these important services in mind, and help us to reach a clear, and long–term, resolution, in the best interests of patients.” So it is decided then! NHS England should reject their current proposals — as they are just proposals after all — and join the public in demanding that our Government respects our NHS, and acts to help us “to reach a clear, and long–term, resolution, in the best interests of patients.” For many people it will be obvious that the best way in which the Government can further such long-term interests of the populous would be by resigning!