Monday, September 25, 2017

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Don't Get Sick In Thurrock

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage discusses the decline in the National Health Service as experienced in Thurrock.

Thurrock once had four hospitals in the borough, Orsett, Tilbury, South Ockendon and Stifford Clays, despite the population having doubled, if not more since the 1950's. We may now end up with none.

Protesters marched through Huddersfield in fight to save the town’s accident and emergency unit.

Back in July Thurrock Councillors unanimously backed a motion that no changes should take place at Orsett Hospital without new local health services being built within Thurrock beforehand.

However if you read the statement issued by Tory Cllr James Halden, portfolio holder for Education and Health after the motion was passed the situation is less clear:

Clinical services in Thurrock – which our residents rely on and value – must be maintained and improved. Just preserving the status quo is not good enough.
The problem with this is the current status quo is a fully functioning Orsett Hospital. Does Cllr James Halden, like Jackie Doyle Price MP, despite his fine words actually support closing the hospital if they're replaced by so called Super Health Hubs which supposedly will be opened across the borough?

If so what medical facilities will these new health hubs provide? Councillors don't seem to know, or, if they do they are not telling their constituents.

We do know if the hospital is closed the Eye Unit at Orsett will not be part of the Hubs, and it's likely to be transferred to Southend. Which will mean the elderly patients who are the majority of those who attend the unit for cataract day surgery will have to make a journey of 22 miles each way.

Nor will they in all probability provide NHS consultant appointment services. If your GP refers you to a consultant or for an X-ray, I'm presuming we will have to travel to Basildon Hospital or further afield.

As far as I can see the so called super Hubs are not that super. If they actually materialise they will provide much the same services the best of Thurrock's GP's already provide, blood tests, minor injuries and operations, plus less invasive ultrasound scans, etc.

What also worries me most about these Hubs is who will be contracted to run them - will they be private health-care companies? They look very much like yet another sleight of hand NHS privatisation, as the idea originated from the USA’s notoriously costly and flawed private health-care system.

Closing local hospitals like Orsett and replacing them with 'health hubs' in partnership with local councils are at the heart of the STP's cost cutting agenda.

Of 450 senior hospital doctors surveyed by the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA), 42% believe the Sustainability and transformation partnerships, (STP's) will have a negative impact on patient care. Barely one in ten consultants who belong to the union expect a positive impact. Three in four (77%) fear STPs are a way of making cuts to the NHS, while just over half (56%) fear they will lead to job losses and worse understaffing.

Overall 95.81% of hospital doctors felt that STPs were not being created in a transparent or open manner, with nearly two-thirds fearing this a lack of clinical engagement could have a negative impact on patient care.

We're told Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust will soon be consulting with local residents on the future of Orsett Hospital. It's imperative we make it clear Orsett should remain open.

Who wouldn't want a shiny new 21st century health care Hub just down the road? But until the Trust tell us which services they will provide, and who will be contracted to run them, we would be wise to stick with what we currently have at Orsett hospitals. I have lived long enough in Thurrock to know when officialdom offers something which appears to be much better than what already exists, it's wise to poke it with a very long stick as they often have an ulterior motive which is not beneficial to us, or in the long term these facilities fail to materialise.

The way forward

Recently there were threats to close the A&E at Southend hospital, local people joined together and mounted a successful campaign to keep it open. Thurrock's people must wake up to the fact if they do not organise a similar struggle to keep Orsett hospital open it will close. And in my life time Thurrock will have gone from having four hospital to none.

As the great Frederick Douglass once said:

"Power concedes nothing without a demand, it never did and it never will."