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.