A 'blue print' to save Cornwall's NHS from sliding into terminal decline?

National Health Campaigner and former MP, Andrew George, called for a new campaign and ‘blue print’ to save Cornwall’s NHS from sliding into terminal decline.
He will circulate the statement below this week and seek partners to join him to mount a concerted campaign to halt the Sustainability and transformation Plan’s cuts and to take a case to Government for the funding Cornwall needs and deserves to save the local NHS.


He statement reads:

So Cornwall’s NHS is in crisis again. Trusts are in ‘special measures’. Yet the Conservative Government still insists that Cornwall must cut a further £270 million from our NHS by 2020.

What Cornwall’s NHS needs is:

1. More and safe levels of clinical/registered nurse staffing
2. More not fewer acute and community hospital beds
3. Community and Primary care which is fully resourced to safely take the pressure off our acute hospitals.

But this won’t happen unless the NHS gets the money it needs and deserves.


Special Measures reaction – Derek Thomas: NHS needs ‘significant increase in spending” to transform

RCHT put on Special Measures – service is ‘inadequate’

While I have persuaded my Party to bravely adopt a manifesto commitment to increase tax to save and protect our NHS, local Tory MPs voted down the only option they have been given to get the NHS the money it needs (in Parliament on 11th Jan this year).

Government Ministers should come clean and admit that many of the failures which resulted in our hospitals and health economy being placed in “special measures” were the product of their own dogma-driven policies and a refusal to accept that, like many other health economies, Cornwall has been seriously underfunded for many years.

It seems Conservative MPs want it both ways. Supporting the Government policy (the STP) to cut money and services from Cornwall’s NHS and which will inevitably result in hospital closures like that at Edward Hain, yet hypocritically attempting to portray themselves as ardent campaigners to save and enhance these services. They helped to vote down the only Commons motion which made the case for more money earlier this year and have always buckled under pressure to support the Conservative Government’s plan to cut £270 million from Cornwall’s NHS by 2020.

Frontline staff should be exonerated. It is the dedication and commitment of our NHS’s remarkable health professionals and clinicians who ensure that our hospitals and health services are able to provide a fantastic service which each day saves, protects and improves the lives of local people and who daily work their socks off to manage unending tidal waves of complex and challenging health needs in spite of the chronic understaffing and the dangerous shortage of inpatient beds and equipment.

“It’s time for NHS campaigners to dust off their marching boots” as document ‘shows proof’ of downgrade intentions

The primary cause of the problem with RCHT is that it is itself caught in the vice of a devastating and toxic mix of pressures:

1. It is not master of its own destiny. It endures the central diktat of an autocratic regime. RCHT will continue to lurch from crisis to crisis. It’s revolving door has seen more than a dozen Board Chairmen and women and nearly the same number of Chief executives in the last ten years. While each one arrives with promise and optimism they have usually ended up fired, thrown out, leave in acrimony or under a cloud or, in one case, has been imprisoned!

2. An unhealthy environment dominated by the culture of bullying. More than one NHS senior executive has privately confided to me about the ‘hairdryer treatment’ often meted out from on high when short term financial or political targets must take precedence over the patients care. The culture of bullying which emanates from the Department of Health makes the NHS an unhappy place in which to work. Too often that culture is then channelled down the hierarchies. And of course it’s the beleaguered frontline staff who ultimately get it in the neck. Having to already endure a prolonged pay cap and with morale undermined any brave staff member who dares challenge unfeasible and dangerous understaffing on wards usually finds their competence questioned and/or faces unreasonable additional pressure for their pains. And so the problem continues, when of course it shouldn’t be tolerated.

3. Being undermined by a predatory private sector. Successive Governments have favoured private companies. RCHTreliske has a rapidly growing private company camped on its doorstep merrily cherry picking the easier and more profitable bits from the NHS, leaving RCHT to cope with the less profitable and more challenging work. They hand back patients they can’t cope with or become dangerously ill. There are other private providers of course. Perhaps revealingly, the private sector is often less constrained in terms of safe staffing and isn’t as accountable. Of course, it doesn’t help that some clinicians are permitted to have a foot in both camps.

My Blue Print for our NHS can only be delivered by removing the disingenuous Conservatives.

It involves:
• More money through higher income taxes possibly up to a further 2p in the £ if necessary.
• Mandated safe registered nurse staffing levels and more acute hospital beds
• More resources and beds in the community and primary sector so that patients can be discharged safely and efficiently from acute hospitals

Please don’t fall for the “I’ve spoken to the Chancellor and asked for more money” claims of Tory MPs. I suspect there will eventually be more money. The Conservatives will do anything right now to cling on to power and it doesn’t sit well with their other claims about getting the country’s debt down (it’s been going up rapidly, but they’d rather you forgot about that!).

So would you agree to pay more taxes if it meant we could get the NHS we need?