Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 12, 2018

Labour Hospital Policy In Poor Health?

Labour LCC member for Skelmersdale East John Fillis wants local Labour to commit to scrapping both Southport and Ormskirk hospitals, making all local patients go to a new “Super Hospital” to be built in Skelmersdale instead. But this policy is at odds with West Lancashire Labour MP Rosie Cooper.

In July Rosie Cooper  told us “I will never accept any move or proposal to downgrade or close Ormskirk Hospital, and will defend our local health services. I was aware that a review of clinical services has been taking place and that no decisions on a preferred option has been taken. This decision will be subject to a formal consultation and I will strongly oppose any reduction in services provided here at Ormskirk”.

And she took the opportunity to challenge Theresa May over the Government’s plans to invest in building new hospitals, while sites such as Ormskirk are being underutilised. In March the Health Secretary pledged to build a new hospital every year, while locally Southport and Ormskirk Hospital are investigating their options as part of a Trust-wide review of services, with potential for Southport to become a “hot site” leaving Ormskirk as a “cold site”.

Rosie said that “One of the biggest ever reviews into services offered by Southport and Ormskirk Hospital Trust and where they are located is now underway. I have previously stated that I will never accept any move or proposal to downgrade or close Ormskirk Hospital, and will defend our local health service. This Government has shown that there is money available for investment in the NHS, so it is clear to me that the money is best spent expanding current sites to better meet patient demand, which is a far cheaper option than building new sites altogether. I was pleased with the Prime Minister’s response and we must agree that decisions should take serious account of local interests with clinicians putting forward the best proposals for patients”.

All of which reveals a serious chasm in Labour’s local hospital policy. Who will step in with any authority to clarify it? The local Conservative party, itself in deep depression after recent local elections, will look at this shambles and quietly enjoy seeing the flack fly.

Councillor Fillis  is proposing scrapping both Southport and Ormskirk hospitals and making local patients go to a new ‘Super Hospital’ to be built in Skelmersdale instead. He has attacked the original decision to put Adult A&E in Southport. He rightly points out that although the Labour health ministers who took children and maternity services away from Southport 15 years ago “promised improvement in public transport and highways, the fact is that thing have got worse”.

A conflict seems inevitable in the NHS as to where to put the one main hospital which they think is all that is sustainable locally, with the balance at the moment only just in favour of Southport Hospital becoming the new acute services “hot site” with closure of maternity and paediatric services at Ormskirk.

Councillor Fillis said “What we need is a new ‘super hospital’ built in Skelmersdale, which already has excellent highway links to Ormskirk and Southport via the new A5758. The M58 motorway link would also enable fast links to regional services in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Lancashire”.

Under this plan, Southport residents needing accident and emergency services would make the 23 mile trip first down the Formby bypass throughCcrosby and then via Switch Island before speeding up to the new hospital at Skelmersdale on the M58. His plan is for the present Southport hospital to “become a rehabilitation and hospital for the elderly”.

In the week of the NHS 70th birthday, new proposals by Southport and Ormskirk NHS trust chiefs to build a new hospital somewhere between Southport and Ormskirk are neither radical nor rational according to Cllr Fillis. He claims it will see local communities in conflict once again while the trust goes ahead with its closure plans of vital services and he wants to see the new ‘Super Hospital’ built in Skelmersdale instead. “The rhetoric is positive but the reality is a failing trust that has closed cancer services, people lying on trolleys in A&E and services being lost to private contractors. We have also had a series of management scandals destroying confidence in their ability to deliver. This is just a smoke screen for further cuts to our National Health Service”.

“The split site services review that established the current service provision (1st April, 1999) was wrong then and the report by the Northern England Clinical Senate, confirms that it is wrong now. The whole process was gerrymandered when they introduced ‘visitors’ to Southport as an excuse to establish the A&E there.

“The trust is now using the elderly to push through further closures at the Ormskirk Hospital under the discredited ‘Hot and Cold’ site scenario. At the time of the last review local people were promised improvement in public transport and highways and the facts is that thing have got worse.”

“The report has recommended that Southport Hospital is used as new ‘hot site’ for redevelopment and the closure of maternity and paediatric services at Ormskirk, they’ll be moved to another nearby Trust, outside of West Lancashire and Southport, including the Children’s A&E department.

So Cllr Fillis is clear that “What we need is a new ‘Super Hospital’ built in Skelmersdale, which already has excellent highway links to Ormskirk and Southport via the new A5758. The M58 motorway link would also enable fast links to regional services in Merseyside, Greater Manchester and Lancashire. Southport Hospital  could easily become a rehabilitation and hospital for the elderly. [And how would the elderly people without private transport get there?]

“The Conservative Government is underfunding our health services by £34 million according to the Acute Sustainability Progress Report, 2017/18. Despite constant promises it is clear that this government is preparing its trusts to cut local services once again, by misleading local people.

Our National Health Service is one of the most cost effective in the world, saving not only lives but billions of pounds in comparison to the private sector. The Acute Sustainability Progress Report fails to take this into account” he concluded.

Whatever the Conservative government is doing to local health services, surely nothing is worse than the local Labour party bickering about such serious matters? Shambolic is what best describes it?

 


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