Steve Score, Save Our NHS Leicestershire co-chair
When Boris Johnson falsely announced his government would build “40 new hospitals” at Tory conference a year ago, it turned out that in fact only six trusts were to get much delayed routine investment.
One of those was Leicester, promised £450 million for hospital “reconfiguration”. The Save Our NHS Leicestershire campaign has been warning ever since that these plans involve the effective closure of one of the hospitals, in an area that serves over a million people.
The Leicester General Hospital is to be closed as an acute hospital, but will have a few non-acute services on site. Most of the land will be sold off for ‘redevelopment’.
On this basis, the public consultation, which began on 28 September, has gone to great lengths to avoid the word ‘closure’, in order to disguise what is really happening from the public.
Socialist Party members play an important part in the campaign, established to continue momentum after the victory of the Save Glenfield Children’s Heart Centre campaign (see ‘Victory at Glenfield shows people power can save our NHS’ at socialistparty.org.uk). The campaign is producing material, both physical and online, and planning events to explain what is happening.
You may wonder whether the middle of a pandemic is the right time for NHS bosses to begin a public consultation. No face-to-face public meetings or engagement can be carried out, excluding a large part of the public. The 1,700-page consultation document does not mention coronavirius or take account of the needs resulting from future waves of pandemic.
The plans might be OK if there was sufficient expansion of capacity and the number of beds to cope with a rising and ageing population, but there isn’t. NHS bosses say the rest will be absorbed by an expansion of services in the community, but there are no details or explanation of where the money will come from for that.