Defend the NHS In Wales!
31st May 2013
The recent Wales TUC statement on Public services reports that since 2010 the NHS in Wales has made 460 million pounds worth of savings. A further 200 million pounds worth of savings planned for this coming financial year.
Welsh Audit Office 2011 states by 2014-15 Wales will spend less on health ‘per head of the population’ than any other country in the UK.
The Socialist Party believes that these savings represent sizable cuts to the NHS in Wales, and this comes at the same time as a significant plan to reshape services in Wales.
The South Wales Programme
Is a model where consultant led maternity, neonatal, inpatient children's services and Accident and Emergency services will be centralised in four or five hospitals only as 'Specialist Centres'.
In the hospitals selected for downgrading these services will be cut and replaced with 'minor injury units' and 'midwife led maternity services'. Inpatient children services will be lost and critical intensive care for new babies will also be lost.
Three of the Specialist Centres have been confirmed as, UHW in Cardiff, Morriston Hospital in Swansea and the new Specialist and Critical Care Centre (SCCC) to be built in Gwent 2019.
Another one or two hospitals will be chosen from the remaining Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr, Princess of Wales in Bridgend or Royal Glamorgan in Llantrisant.
A consultation process has started and will run until July 19th 2013.
Health Boards are consulting on the following four options (Number 3 being their preferred option):
Hospitals selected for downgrading will lose:
- Consultant led A+E and get replaced with minor injury units.
- Inpatient paediatric wards
- Consultant led maternity services and get replaced by 'midwife led' services only
- Intensive care for new born babies
Welsh Government and the Health Boards tell us that these changes are needed in order to ensure that quality health services are delivered effectively across South Wales. They report that currently services are spread too thinly and we do not have the number of doctors at all levels (but especially Consultant level) to continue to provide health services safely and at a good standard.
They tell us that because services are stretched recruiting doctors to Wales is difficult. They point to evidence that due to stretched services with poor doctor levels, survival in your local hospital is less than survival in a specialist centre. They say that we are over reliant on hospitals and they want to move to more community based care.
Welsh government disguise cuts in a programme of reorganisation that they claim is about improving quality but actually downgrades hospitals when hundreds of millions of pounds are cut from NHS spending in Wales
We would be prepared to look at the evidence that supports the development of 'Specialist Centres' if the funding for providing health services was based on the needs of the people of Wales. But in the context of a massively shrinking budget, this programme acts as a disguise for cuts.
These proposals mean significantly reduced access to health services, including anyone without their own transport, the elderly, disabled people, and some of the poorest communities in the region. Those who might have the furthest distance to travel to access services.
Public transport even in urban areas is appalling, infrequent, unreliable and expensive. Public transport can be non-existent at a weekend or at unsocial hours.
South Wales ambulances are creaking at the seams and not making their targets. We see frequent reports on the news of ambulances being unable to 'off load' patients at A+E because services are saturated. Reducing the number of A+E services will increase this problem not improve it.
For people who are critically unwell response times and quick access to services are vital and life sustaining.
Delivered properly community services are not the cheap option, cutting hospital cover and not being able to invest in community services (because of funding cuts) is likely to be fraught with difficulty and again most likely hit deprived areas more severely than affluent areas.
The RCN last week highlighted a 40% reduction in the number of district nurses since 2009.
An expansion in community health would mean recruiting and investing in community services. Welsh Government and Health Boards do not tell us how much money is being ear marked for this, in fact all we are told is how much is being cut.
It is vital that we all take part in this consultation process, see the link below for your local public meeting.
Swansea consultation meeting will be held:
June 11th 18:30 - 20:30
The Grand Theatre.
Defend the NHS in Wales!