Checkout this report from today’s Sentinel here …………
and then an account of what went on from one of our own Save Longton Cottage Hospital campaigners below …….
Andy Bentley was asked to represent the SAVE LONGTON COTTAGE HOSPITAL campaign group at this council meeting. Here Andy, explains what happened ……..
“The meeting was heavily weighted in favour of the two representatives of those who want to get rid of Longton Cottage Hospital beds and who refuse to rule out closure of the hospital. The meeting lasted approximately two hours and if you include the presentations given by those two and the fact that they both insisted on answering every question asked by councillors they probably spoke for about one and a half hours of those two hours!
As a representative of the SAVE LONGTON COTTAGE HOSPITAL (SLCH) campaign group I was given a paltry 2 minutes and a representative of Unison was given the same.
Firstly, I explained that, despite their denials, the attack on Longton Cottage Hospital (LCH) and other hospitals was being driven by cost cutting as part of a process of privatising the NHS.
I pointed out that their ‘new model’ which includes getting rid of our ‘spare’ beds to be replaced with a greater emphasis on ‘care in the community’ was not feasible. Why? Because we already have unacceptable queues at our A&E at regular intervals, the population is increasing and people are living longer. I told them that we therefore need more beds not less.
I told them that the idea that ‘care in the community’ is going to solve the problem is a con. That those services have already been pared to the bone over the last 5 years and the government are planning another £1 billion worth of cuts in this area.
They spoke a lot about how they are consulting with staff and patients and speaking to other overview and scrutiny meetings like this one. I told them that they ‘consult’ about closing beds by closing the beds first! That they refuse to guarantee that Longton Cottage will stay open and that they want to introduce their so called ‘new model’ without any guarantees that they can even staff it.
I told them that SLCH campaigners were already carrying out a real on-going consultation. That, despite the Sentinel carrying a number of recent articles in which CCG bosses explained why they thought it was best to close the beds at Longton Cottage, 99.9 per cent of those we have spoken to did not want those beds to be got rid of and they did not want the hospital closed. That in just four weeks over 4000 people had signed petitions saying just that.
I told them that for their ‘consultation’ to mean anything they need to do three things. One, at least have the decency to keep Longton Cottage Hospital beds open while their consultation is taking place.
Secondly, that their consultation should include public meetings in all the local areas across Stoke-on-Trent in places like Meir, Blurton, Bentilee etc to give an opportunity to those people who for generations have paid for the NHS including Longton Cottage to have a say. At these meetings speakers for and against closure of beds and or the hospital should be given equal time to put their case and answer questions.
And finally that for their consultation to mean anything at all there should be a referendum to decide whether the 250,000 people who live in Stoke-on-Trent want Longton Cottage beds or the hospital to be closed.
It’s good that the councillors present called on the CCG’s to keep the beds open while the consultation goes ahead but that doesn’t go anywhere near far enough. Not one councillor was elected to stand aside while our hospital beds or hospitals are closed and the full council should come out clearly against any idea of this taking place.”
Andy Bentley is the local organiser for the Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) and stood as the TUSC NO-CUTS candidate in last May’s local elections in Meir North. Andy along with other local TUSC supporters, Longton Cottage Hospital workers and other local campaigners has played a key role helping to build the SAVE LONGTON COTTAGE HOSPITAL campaign group
March with us tomorrow to save 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