We have argued from day one that the ‘consultation’ being carried out by local Health Bosses is a sham. It has nothing to do with consultation but everything to do with attempting to sell a decision that they have already made.
Their first ‘consultation’ meeting on Friday 23 October in the Moat House Hotel, Etruria confirmed what we have previously said. There were just 23/24 people in attendance which is not surprising when it took place in the daytime in a ‘posh’ hotel in an area that is beyond walking distance for anyone without transport. This means that tens of thousands of people who were working at that time along with thousands of others without transport were in effect ‘locked out’ or ‘priced out’ of this gathering.
Around half of the 24 people present were from the local CCG’s! It felt like they were trying to convince themselves that closure of Longton Cottage Hospital beds is necessary and that their own ‘new model’ of health care in the community will actually work.
Local Health Boss Marcus Warnes was given about 20 minutes to present their case. No time was given to anyone to present an alternative view. We were told by Marcus that this was not a consultation about Longton Cottage Hospital but about their ‘new model’ of community health care.
Only brief questions were allowed. Andy Bentley, representing Save Longton Cottage Hospital, was interrupted by the ‘impartial chair person’ because his question was too long! (See below)
Those at the meeting were then divided up into three different groups for more questions and discussion. Even here it was felt necessary to pack the groups with local CCG employees and others who are being paid to try to sell their plans. In effect, the event was a stage managed marketing exercise to sell their ‘new model of care’.
Compare this with the first consultation meeting organised by SAVE LONGTON COTTAGE HOSPITAL (SLCH) on 17 August in St Gregory’s Church in Longton. An impressive 120 local people attended to hear Health Bosses Marcus Warnes, Stuart Poynor and Andrew Bartlam present their case. Importantly, an equal amount of time was given to Andy Bentley and Irene Sutton to argue why thousands of local people are opposed to their plans. This event attracted local councillors, NHS staff being affected by the closure of LCH beds, other NHS workers, young people, pensioners, trade union reps etc.
After the speakers there was a very lively discussion with anyone allowed to ask questions of any or all of the speakers and importantly to make their own contributions if they wished to. None of the speakers or others were ‘advised’ that only certain issues were relevant.
This led to a more representative view of what support there is or isn’t for the closure of our NHS beds at Longton Cottage, it’s future and the idea that an effective ‘new model of care’ can be achieved in a period where billions of pounds are being taken out of our NHS.
Not one person who attended this event supported the Health Bosses’ closure of beds or that their plan would provide an adequately staffed and funded ‘new model’ of care.
Since that meeting, requests for local Health Bosses to speak at later SLCH public meetings have been turned down or ignored by the CCG’s. Presumably, they much prefer the ‘Moat House model’ of event which they feel they can police and control to suit their own agenda.
These are the reasons why we refer to their ‘consultation’ as a sham. We have previously set out what we think a real consultation would consist of ie – for local people who own the NHS not just to be ‘consulted’ but that they should be part of the decision making process. (see here)
We asked Andy Bentley what he thought of the CCG’s first consultation meeting just after it had finished.
“At our first SLCH public consultation meeting and elsewhere Marcus Warnes has rubbished Longton Cottage Hospital as being too old,not fit for purpose and that it needs replacing. He used this false argument to try to justify that we needed a ‘new model’. Now he tells us that Longton Cottage Hospital and the closure of our beds has nothing to do with their ‘new model’ of community care!
But the real reason he doesn’t want to talk about Longton Cottage is that he has met angry opposition to the closure of our community beds which threatens the continued existence of the hospital itself.
He has refused to acknowledge publicly that 10,000 people have signed our petition against what they are doing.
He and other local Health Bosses refused to listen to 200 people who marched against his plans.
He has ignored the views of Stoke-on-Trent city councillors and local trade union leaders.
It’s not surprising therefore that most locals see his ‘consultation’ as a costly scam.
In short, he and other Health Bosses, are being well-paid with tax payers money to dutifully follow the orders of a government that is determined to dismantle and privatise our NHS.
But we are just as determined to fight him all the way to defend Longton Cottage Hospital and our NHS and that is exactly what we will do.
As the Health bosses ‘consultation’ meeting took place inside the Moat House dozens of passing motorists honked their horns in support of our fight to keep Longton Cottage Hospital open”.
Marcus Warnes is the Chief Operating Officer at the North Staffs Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
Andrew Bartlam is Clinical Accountable Officer at Stoke-on-Trent CCG
Stuart Poyner is Chief Executive Officer of Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust
Irene Sutton – ex-Senior Staff Nurse at Longton Cottage, now at Bradwell Hospital
Andy Bentley – Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition (TUSC) regional organiser.
- Jamie Chatfield – TUSC supporter and SAVE LONGTON COTTAGE HOSPITAL campaigner