|Hammersmith Hospital in Shepherd's Bush|
As part of my own job I have been trained to a high level of emergency first aid because we tend to go to places where we might need it. And there is a phrase that is drummed into us by the trainers which is the "platinum ten minutes". Meaning, simply, that in many serious emergencies what happens in the first ten minutes can literally be the difference between life and death, or either full or partial recovery. So time matters.
But do people in the north of the borough matter to our council? A Fulham bias is very clear from the reaction to the announcement from the NHS in North West London. Hammersmith & Fulham has started an online petition - but only to protest the closure of the A&E dept at Fulham hospital at Charing Cross, not the closure of the A&E dept and downsizing of our own hospital. And the Fulham Chronicle is living up to its' name by only being apparently interested in the fate of the Fulham service too.
|Our council's priority|
The local MP Andy Slaughter is very clear on the answer to that question - these are Government inspired closures and he is organising a protest march in Westminster this coming Monday to coincide with a meeting there of local health planning bosses.
Neighbouring MP Greg Hands is also issuing statements against the proposed plans - again only concerned with Charing Cross Hospital - but insisted to me on friday that this did not mean he had to resign his position as a member of the Government. These were not Government initiatives, he insisted, but local NHS bossses who needed to be opposed. That is also the line of our council.
Of the two Andy is right and Greg is plain wrong. The plans are being put forward because the local NHS has to find around £1 billion of savings over the next three years. That was made very clear by the NHS themselves when they launched the plans at the end of last year, under a banner called "Shaping a Healthier Future". The NHS in our part of the world is broke, basically. And under ruthless discipline that started under the last few years of the Labour Government and which has been continued under the coalition, the NHS has been told it isn't going to be bailed out. So cuts there are.
Speaking in February this year Dr Anne Rainsberry, Chief Executive of NHS North West London and Senior Responsible Officer for the programme, said:
“There will be some difficult decisions to make but unfortunately no change is not an option. This is all about providing the best possible care for our patients and saving lives.”In fairness to the coalition if they did just bail out the NHS and save these hospitals there would be no incentive for the financially irresponsible bosses of the NHS not to simply rack up massive debts again. And Andy needs to accept that this happened under the last Labour Government, despite massive amounts of money being poured in. But we are where we are -and what matters now is that at least part of the cost of imposing financial discipline looks like it is going to be paid in local people's lives.
Unless they can be persuaded otherwise.