Link to this page: http://www.socialistparty.org.uk/issue/234/9272
Hands Off The Health Service!
CRITICAL REPORTS about Coventry's hospitals have piled up relentlessly almost daily the local press reveals yet another failure. The Commission for Health Improvement (CHI) gave its 'most damning report so far', exposing 'dangerous practices' such as putting five beds in four-bed wards. Nurses have told me how demoralising this is for them, as it seriously affects patient care.
Karen McKay, Socialist Party councillor, Coventry city council
Coventry's hospitals got a zero star rating in new league tables and heart bypass mortality rates are among the worst in the country. Trust managers, have been criticised for 'bullying and intimidation' so that senior clinical staff were afraid to raise criticisms. In its dealings with other bodies, the trust was described as arrogant and unwilling to listen.
But Trust chief executive, David Loughton is pleading for sympathy in the local paper, claiming he's a "victim of bullying" by those clamouring for his resignation. Six local MPs have even called in parliament for his resignation but he's grimly determined to cling on.
In a ballot, 66% of consultants declared no confidence in his leadership and demanded that he go - as has the local Community Health Council. But the trust chairman stepped down instead.
While recognising under-investment in our NHS is the main problem, the three Socialist Party councillors put a motion to Coventry council calling for Loughton's resignation. He's on a huge salary but doesn't accept responsibility publicly for the woeful state of our hospitals.
The new chairman worries that "he won't be able to convince patients that they're in safe hands". People have little confidence in our hospitals but praise for nursing staff is high.
CHI accused management of being so busy on the Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal for a new hospital that they've neglected the running of the hospitals - and it's for the signing of this deal that Loughton is hanging on. Our two publicly owned hospitals will then be replaced by one privately owned which is being built on the outskirts of the city (on a flood plain) against public demand for the current city centre site.
Loughton and the trust aggressively pursued this site to pander to big business. The Socialist Party have campaigned on this for ten years, highlighting the cuts associated with these scandalous PFI deals.
Our motion also called for democratisation of hospital management. Trusts should be opened up to elections with direct accountability and genuine staff and patient involvement. Community Health Councils should not be abolished, but supported and given real power.
In The Socialist 14 December 2001: