Matt Wright works in the NHS and is chairman of TUSC Stoke Branch. Matt helped launch along with Longton Cottage Hospital workers and local residents the campaign to stop the closure of their hospital.
Below you can see a photo of his ‘Personally Speaking’ page from the Sentinel 27 June 2015 and along side it is the actual text from his article which is much easier to read than in the photo.
Why precious NHS is worth ‘marching’ for.
“Ask anyone on the streets of Longton, Meir or Hanley if they think the hospital beds at Longton Cottage hospital should be closed and their answer will be a resounding ‘no duck’.
That is in fact what campaigners have been doing over the past four weeks. Campaign stalls have had people queuing up to sign the petition, such is the instinctive support from people.
Unfortunately, this seems to be the latest in a long line of unpopular decisions made by the NHS’s Stoke and Staffordshire clinical commissioning groups.
Witness the debacle that was the decision to open up to bids the provision of cancer care and end-off-life care across Staffordshire. Of course, there was massive anger against this when we started campaigning against it. I remember the rage I felt when the news broke in the Sentinel in March last year but this time it feels personal.
I spoke to a well-spoken elderly gent the other week who said that he was signing the petition because his mother had a hysterectomy in Longton Cottage in 1948, the year the health service was formed. The hospital itself pre-dates the formation of the NHS by more than 50 years, in other words it’s roots run deep for us in the south of the city.
It’s easy to get sentimental about buildings with so much history. The fact is that Longton Cottage is so much more. It represents something tangible here and now. It represents a much needed service as an overflow to our over stretched accident and emergency at Royal Stoke.
It also represents real jobs for NHS staff in an area with higher-than-average unemployment. Speaking of which, staff at the hospital report that more than 40per cent on most shifts are agency workers.
It seems like common sense to me that if you want to save money in the NHS, then you don’t employ agency nurses on £25 an hour, plus the same again to the agency, as any sort of long term solution.
Recent history shows us that campaigns to save NHS services which do not include the affected staff themselves (see the campaign to save Stafford Hospital), can be doomed to failure. That’s why this is different. All of the staff I’ve talked to at Longton Cottage are up for a fight, even if it means the possibility of strike action. If this does happen then it’s up to us as a community not to fall for the divide-and-rule tactics that will be whipped up. We need to stand shoulder to shoulder, in solidarity with any staff who decide to strike to save the hospital.
It is massively short sighted of the commissioners to look at closing the remaining nursing beds, where will the patients go? Into social care? The same social care that is looking at £1 billion funding cuts in this year alone.
We NHS staff can often be guilty of being quite blinkered to the bigger picture and not looking any further than our ward or department. But it’s clear to me that this is not an isolated case. NHS services across the country are being cut to the bone or privatised.
That is why six days after the 67th anniversary of the formation of the NHS we will be marching – not just to save Longton Cottage, but to save our NHS
I invite all of you to march with us at 11am on July 11th from Longton Cottage Hospital.”
JOIN the MARCH
to SAVE LONGTON COTTAGE HOSPITAL!
Saturday 11th JULY
Assemble at 11am outside Longton Cottage Hospital, Upper Belgrave Rd, Longton ST3 4QX
March to rally – 12 noon at The Bandstand, Bennett Precinct, Longton ST3 2HR