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Lancashire: Hospital workers protest consultation
Becci Heagney, North West Socialist Party regional organiser
NHS England arranged meetings on 16 January at short notice at Calderstones Hospital in Whalley, Lancashire, to consult on the future of its services. These meetings run alongside an online consultation. However, the three options to choose from all include making cuts!
Despite millions being spent on state of the art buildings in 2007 and 2013 at the site, NHS England is now proposing closing all or most of them and building new hospitals in a different location. It is widely believed that this is "privatisation by stealth" and that many jobs and most of the services will be lost.
Calderstones has forensic medical beds for people with learning disabilities who have either been in contact with the criminal justice system, retained under the Mental Health Act or pose a risk to themselves or others. The number of these beds will be cut as part of the so-called "homes not hospitals" pledge by the NHS.
Unison members at the hospital held a fantastic protest outside the consultation meeting, before going in to make their views known. Now workers will need to fight for a genuine consultation, to defend the service and their jobs. Part of this struggle will hopefully be a contingent on the national NHS protest on 4 March.