Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/386/4362
General election campaign:
No PFI or hospital closures in Bristol!
THE SOCIALIST PARTY in Bristol will be standing a candidate in the forthcoming general election. One of the major issues facing workers in the city is hospital closures and cuts.
Graeme Jones, Socialist Alternative prospective parliamentary candidate for Bristol North West, spoke to the socialist about the Socialist Party's campaign on these issues.
OVER TEN years ago we warned that health chiefs and politicians in Bristol wanted to close one of our three remaining hospital casualty (A&E) units in the city. We were derided for spreading scare stories but now we have been vindicated as local bigwigs reveal their crazy plans.
It's even worse than we thought!
They are proposing a scheme which will mean fewer beds and less A&E units than the inadequate facilities we have now!
At the moment, Frenchay and Southmead hospitals serve north Bristol. Attached to the Bristol Royal Infirmary (BRI) in central Bristol is the General Hospital which provides geriatric and other specialist services.
Lives will be lost
Southmead's A&E service is being reduced to a minor injuries unit on 1 April this year.
The 15,000 people who are rushed there each year with extreme injuries, will have to be shipped to the BRI or Frenchay.
Lives will be lost, as paramedics have already warned
They also want to downgrade Frenchay to a 'community hospital' in 2012, which will impose enormous additional stresses on the remaining facilities.
They claim that a super-hospital will be built on Southmead's site by 2012. Headlines scream that £500 million is to be spent.
Nobody would argue against changes if it meant building more modern, publicly funded hospitals where people need them.
But this is not New Labour's agenda. Instead, the super-hospital planned in north Bristol will be financed through the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), which gives the private sector a huge windfall at our expense.
Feathering their nests
Feathering the nests of their greedy shareholders, they are allowed to build, own and manage our NHS.
Like mugs, we then have to pay these private sharks back, with interest, over many years.
This PFI plan means the chopping of 105 beds, while the closure of the General Hospital will see another 300 beds disappearing. Nothing has been learned from other PFI disasters in the NHS. In Swindon, where beds were cut, the brand new hospital has been forced to display the "full up" signs on its glossy doors!
Health 'experts' try and dress up the announcements of Frenchay's downgrading and Southmead losing its A&E unit by claiming they are necessary in order to avoid a 'dangerous' situation for patients. They say it's better to centralise but we're saying that not only should Southmead be kept open, it should also be expanded. We need proper investment in both Southmead and Frenchay to create two 21st century hospitals in north Bristol.
No explanation is given for why an expanding population in north Bristol suddenly needs fewer casualty resources than in the past.
Once again, Blair is cutting services in working-class communities, under the guise of 'modernising' the NHS.
Working people who've paid into the NHS all their lives are going to pay a terrible price if these Tory-style plans go ahead. The outrage that greeted this bombshell must be turned into a campaign that builds solid links between all the communities across Bristol.
The discredited New Labour MPs have been an absolute disgrace. Kingswood's Roger Berry bleated that it should have been Southmead that got the chop, while a relieved Doug Naysmith seeks to justify Frenchay's butchering on geographical grounds.
Our fight must be to keep both Southmead and Frenchay fully open and fully operational.
The NHS is ours. We need a real Socialist MP in Bristol North West.
When polling starts, join our campaign in electing one who will defy the blows that the tweedledee, tweedledum establishment politicians keep raining down on our communities.
If you would like to get involved with any of these campaigns, please phone 020 8988 8767, email
firstname.lastname@example.org, or go to:
THE SOCIALIST Party is standing in the following seats in the general election:
Wythenshawe and Sale East
Newcastle East and Wallsend
Bristol North West
Cardiff South and Penarth
Coventry North East
In The Socialist 2 April 2005: