A sick attack on sick children
Fresh from making the decision to close down the A&E and maternity departments at St Helier’s Hospital, South West London NHS now has children’s
services in their sights. Their ironically-named, sham consultative body,
Better Services Better Value, has recommended the closure of three out of four
children’s in-patients wards in SW London – apparently to enhance patient care.
BSBV’s “Children’s Clinical Working Group” report claims that Kingston, Sutton
and Croydon should all lose their children’s in-patients wards so that services
can be centralised at Tooting Hospital. But what really underlies their plans
is the fact that SW London NHS needs to make a budget cut of 24% – yes, 24% –
The closures mean the loss of 56 beds across our local hospitals. It means
longer waiting lists for children who need overnight stays. It means children
with chronic illnesses becoming in-patients far away from home. It means
massive pressure on the remaining services. Ultimately, it means that the
government and the local NHS bosses will have blood on their hands.
Lies, damn lies and NHS pledges
Before the election, Tories and Liberals lined up to pledge that the NHS, and
particularly Kingston Hospital, was safe with them. Both Cameron and Clegg made visits to the Hospital. Now local Liberal MP, Ed Davey, is claiming that he has helped to save maternity and A&E at Kingston Hospital – when really all he
has done is mobilise political pressure to have the departments closed at St.
Helier, which will, in turn, put massive pressure on those services at
The Tories and the Liberals have consistently lied over the NHS. At no point
did Cameron or Clegg say that they were committed to the privatisation of the
NHS before the election. But as it stands, from the time that Kingston Hospital
becomes a foundation hospital, it will not only be required to put out all its services to tender for private health companies, but it’ll also be able to cover any of its budgetary problem by taking on up to 49% of its patients as private ones.
The proposed closure of Kingston Hospital’s children’s ward is the most
shocking example of the hypocrisy of the two parties. Eric Pickles and local
Tories stood behind a banner reading “Kingston Hospital – safe with us” at the
last election. Now they’re closing a children’s ward. Meanwhile, Ed Davey is
trying desperately to look as though he is defending the ward – even though he’s
a minister in the government which is cutting it.
The Tories claims that the people of Kingston will have the last say on the
plans when Better Services Better Value launch their public consultation on
Monday 17th September. This is another lie. BSBV has already made its decision – its consultation is a sham. BSBV is not an independent body, nor a “people’s panel” of health workers. It’s a body responsible to the Ministry of Health, and the panel-members are largely NHS bosses. One is even a Liberal Democrat councillor.
Stop all cuts and closures
We can’t rely on politicians with a track-record of lying to the public to protect us from the closure of NHS services. The only way to save our children’s services is to mobilise the community and local health workers against the cuts.
The government’s assault on healthcare is turning the NHS into a political
powder keg. This September, there will be huge local demonstrations against NHS cuts in West and South London, and events at St Helier Hospital against the closure of wards there.
We need to start linking together activists, trade unionists, health workers and local people to challenge the cuts and closures at Kingston Hospital. A local campaign can politically mobilise people, and expose the hypocrisy of the Tories and the Lib-Dems.