On Wednesday 27th September, we gathered outside Wycombe Hospital to mark one year since these vascular operations left. A successful staff rotation was ignored and now some of our most vulnerable patients have to travel all the way to Oxford. These operations left without the expected public consultation and we are writing a letter of complaint to NHS England as well as urging our Scrutiny Committee (HASC) to refer the matter to the Health Secretary.
Thank you to everyone who helped!
Here are a few fantastic photos from Natasha Rodgers
The vigil lasted an hour. We collected signatures, wrote messages for staff and filled in questionnaires. Some great conversations were had and we are in a better position than last week!
The story has made it into local media including the Bucks Free Press, Wycombe Today, BBC 3 Counties Radio and Mix 96 so far. Articles will be added to our Media Mentions page.
Grassroots station Moving On TV also captured some voices at the end of our vigil: https://youtu.be/x5cd_RnN6oQ
Thank you to everyone for helping to raise awareness.
More help will be needed to spread the word about future events. Please check our social media pages regularly and share/speak to those around you etc.
35 children’s centres are due to be closed and replaced by 9 ‘hubs’ in new proposals from Buckinghamshire County Council. Despite the text in the document, the move is a financial one and will make it difficult for people to access help and support in their local communities. Well established, ‘safe places’ like children’s centres are key in helping people access early help and support in order to prevent issues escalating. Other services this will affect include:
- Bucks Family Information Service
- Advice and support for young people through Connexions (Adviza)
- Early Help coordinators
- Families First
- Family Resilience
- Support for children who have lived with Domestic Violence (Refuge and Outreach) (Women’s Aid)
- Support for parents through Barnardo’s
- Young carers support
- Youth Services
These existing services for 0-19 year olds and their families will be brought under one umbrella. It seems ‘the Councils’ resources will be focused on enabling the conditions in which our communities can prosper’ – enabling conditions by taking things away? Once again it is the most vulnerable who will be affected by these decisions.
*Please respond to the ‘consultation‘ by filling in the form here: https://www.research.net/r/EarlyHelpConsultation2017
Please click ‘yes’ on this survey monkey so that the number of responses can be monitored and used to challenge figures if need be: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/2PQGJ5M
Deadline 16th October
*Please also write to your MP https://www.writetothem.com/
‘Decisions will be made and taken to the Cabinet on the 23rd October
There will then be a “call in” period lasting 4 days during which local MPs have an opportunity to question or object to the plans.’ Therefore please contact your MP.
You can read the full proposal docs here: http://www.buckscc.gov.uk/services/care-for-children-and-families/improving-early-help-services-for-children-young-people-and-families/
And learn more about your local children’s centres here: https://www.facebook.com/wycombecc?fref=gc&hc_location=ufi
‘Must we sell everything?’ ‘Won’t somebody think of the children?’
Never having met any of my grandads (they both died before I was born), I think I can be forgiven for adopting Terry Price as a grandad figure once I realised he was the same age as gran would have been. Caring, passionate, honest, knowledgeable, willing to stick up for his rights and for others, he had all the traits I would want in a grandparent. (I told him this a couple of times, but the last time I saw him I mentioned it in person and got a ‘thanks Ozma’ with a smile and twinkle. Sorry Terry!) He would mix the right amount of advice and praise with an occasional scolding. For example, a few months ago at his house, he told me I should sign off letters with ‘on behalf of Buckinghamshire’. I laughed, thinking ‘Who am I?’ to sign off in such a way, and got a telling off. I’ll miss being able to pick up the phone and seek his advice and wisdom. In the past year I sought it in regards to vascular services and Marlow hospital. His stance included that the scrutiny committee needed to be ‘lambasted’ as they have the power to refer to the Health Secretary. I remember a conversation about Councillors and asked him why he wouldn’t stand (he would have gotten my vote had I lived in his patch!) I remember him saying he was too forthright to be a politician. I know the Buckinghamshire community have lost an amazing man. However, I know we have gained from his sacrifices and everything he taught us, having given so much energy and time to local causes. He was a gem in our community, along with Mrs Mary Mitchell (who also sadly passed away a little while back), and will be sorely missed. My heartfelt and sincere condolences to his friends and family.
Thinking about the campaign ahead, we have an awful lot against us, including what feels like the deliberate destruction of our NHS. We need people on every level to speak up for our NHS. But we have an amazing community and I know if we work together, there isn’t anything we can’t achieve.
Going through my WhatsApp messages (he asked me if I was on WhatsApp, a man in his 80s, wasn’t he amazing!) I found one of my messages from Terry in April. ‘Don’t forget Ozma, go for the throat’. You’ll be missed Mr Price xx
Yesterday we learned that Buckinghamshire is one of eight regions designated to become an ‘Accountable Care Organisation’. NHS campaigners have warned that these are based on an USA model of healthcare and are designed to set up our NHS for privatisation and a health insurance based system. The architect for these changes is Simon Stevens who spent 10 years working for United Health before becoming Chief Executive of our NHS.
We’ve gone from calling it a ‘Casualty’ unit, to an Urgent Care Centre, to an Urgent Treatment Centre however our MP has yet to explain what this actually means for our hospital. Our MP, Steve Baker, felt his stance on our hospital was ‘vindicated’ at the 2015 election. Questions about who would run the unit and whether GP surgeries would close need answering before anything is accelerated, along with what this will actually look like, and importantly, treat. Our current understanding is that it won’t treat anything additional. No doubt there will be politicians happy to pose outside a sign change to an Urgent Care/Treatment centre as though it’s an achievement, however they should be reminded that we have FEWER services than when our MP first came into power in 2010.
Threats to our community hospitals continue, with patients who would have been treated close to home, now taking up spaces in other hospitals like Wexham. Not one local MP has responded to emails with regards to Marlow or Thame. Yet the overnight bed closures have directly impacted someone our MP has worked with. In fact, some of Marlow forms his constituency.
We have long been concerned about the land at Wycombe hospital, given to Wycombe as a memorial to the Great War. This land on Queen Alexandra Road was given to the people of High Wycombe to honour those that died and to care for women and children. Our local STP mentions ‘estates’, and our Prime Minister has openly shown support for the Naylor review, which not only incentivises Trusts to sell their hospital land, campaigners feel it blackmails them to do so. Selling of our much needed hospital land, or disguising this under the guise of better housing for staff would be completely unacceptable.
Smaller, accessible, familiar GP surgeries are essential for vulnerable patients however this model is threatened with the private sector preferring ‘federations’ and larger centres/hubs.
We’ve helped spread the NHS message with regards to use of pharmacies as a first port of call for certain conditions, yet the threat on these hasn’t been removed.
Meanwhile services which have left Wycombe Hospital, struggle under the pressure.
Underpaid and demoralised by this government, staff are leaving our NHS. Well used, successful hospitals like Charing Cross are earmarked to be sold.
Our entire NHS needs saving. And it needs saving from this government. The decision to underfund our NHS is a political one and it comes from the top. Whilst the government would like to pretend that decisions are made locally, these are very much top down changes. It’s time for our MPs to step up. They won’t be forgiven when our NHS is gone. They won’t be forgiven if our hospital land is sold, or if our NHS is further privatised. We all deserve the best healthcare, and evidence shows that this is the NHS. Private health insurance will only cover so far, when a patient’s condition becomes complicated, it is the NHS which takes care of us.
You can watch the BBC South Today news report here: https://www.facebook.com/savewycombehospital/videos/825795950906487/
Dear local MPs,
You will be aware that as a result of Buckinghamshire not receiving adequate NHS funding, Marlow and Thame lost twenty overnight beds from the 1st April for the ‘community hubs’ ‘pilot’. These bed closures are already affecting people and are likely to be rolled out to our other community hospitals. Bed closures in the county will impact other hospitals in and around Bucks, this affects us all.
This letter is a request that local MPs get together and take swift action to ensure our NHS urgently gets the funding it needs and that those beds are reopened. We must stop ‘Sustainability and Transformation plans’ (STPs) which will result in more hospital downgrades, including ‘1 in 6’ A&Es. Steps also need to be taken to restore Wycombe hospital to a fully functioning one once more.
The community hospital beds closed at the start of this month without adequate public consultation. At the very least there should be a thorough consultation on the whole of our STP plan. Whilst other councils are putting the needs of their communities first and rejecting STPs, once again Buckinghamshire County Council’s health scrutiny committee have failed the population of Bucks with their lack of scrutiny, (having not even looked at basic documents like Equality Impact Assessments before the changes). In fact, this past year’s HASC webcasts contain some somewhat embarrassing content.
At a time when (due to billions of pounds worth of cuts) social care is struggling, and hospitals site missing targets due to ‘bed blocking’ these closures defy common sense. In HASC’s March discharge enquiry meeting, it was discussed that ‘there are not the care home places for people to go into’, and that ‘some care homes won’t accept council funded patients’ so it’s bizarre that there wasn’t more challenge to the plans. Worryingly, not all the community services will be in place for the start of the ‘pilot’.
We engaged fully with the ‘Community Hub’ sessions and bed closures weren’t explicitly discussed. Our petition against further downgrades reached its 1000 signature target in under two days. Our protest had a fantastic turn out.
These beds must be reopened quickly and the excellent staff teams redeployed.
Attached is an image of a child on a makeshift bed made of two chairs put together. It was taken at Stoke Mandeville just over a year ago, and whilst a difficult image to attach, was sent to local decision makers along with details of the experience. Unfortunately, nothing appears to have been done. We had a very difficult winter locally, with Stoke Mandeville in ‘Black alert’, requesting that patients who could go home to do so, and the John Radcliffe cancelling non-urgent operations.
The continued downgrade of the busy Horton General will increase the strain on Oxford’s John Radcliffe. As more housing is being built, including Aylesbury’s garden village, the strain on Stoke Mandeville is only set to increase. In the last couple of years, we have had fires at both Stoke and Wexham. Whilst these were dealt with quickly, they show a big flaw in mass centralisation of services. People have faced many difficulties since Wycombe lost Dr-led births, SCBU and our A&E (with associated wards/departments). Closing more departments/beds when they are overwhelmed and we have a growing population is unacceptable, and distance to services does make a difference. The UK already lags behind many countries in terms of bed numbers.
GP surgeries like Lynton must be given the resources to be open full time again and urgent action needs to be taken to ensure the recruitment, training and retention of staff. Step down wards like 5B should be reopened so that people on the health/social care borderline can be discharged when it is safe. Additional funding is needed for prevention and education, so that we can see the benefit later down the line.
Further hospital downgrades and dissemination of our NHS must be halted.
Buckinghamshire has received less funding for some time and is ahead when it comes to hospital downgrades/centralisation. Yet we are still expected to make millions of pounds of savings under the STP process?
Evidence shows that the NHS is the most cost effective, efficient health care system in the world. Whilst we continue to spend less of our GDP on health than our neighbours, I’m afraid concerns that the NHS is being deliberately set up for privatisation seem justified. Our last letter from the Department of Health mentioned £10bn going into the NHS however this has been disputed, including by the parliamentary Health Select Committee. There is evidence that investing in health results in economic growth 
A study at Oxford states that ‘30,000 excess deaths in 2015’ were ‘linked to cuts in health and social care’. 
It is time, as our MPs, that you truly champion our hospitals and NHS. I’m aware that an election has been called, but quite frankly this can’t wait until July/September and beyond.
On behalf of concerned residents of Buckinghamshire,
Miss Ozma Hafiz