Steve Score, co-chair Save Our NHS Leicestershire
Leicester’s NHS bosses seem scared about the ‘Save Our NHS Leicestershire’ campaign’s attempts to put forward alternative views on their proposals to reorganise our hospitals, including the closure of the Leicester General Hospital.
Despite the huge amount of resources they have to put their case, including slick TV ads, glossy brochures with wonderful artists drawings of new buildings, and easy access to the media, they still appear defensive. Letters from local NHS bosses to the local paper and official social media posts have been issued directly attacking our campaign.
They were determined to push ahead with a consultation during lockdown, despite the fact that face-to-face meeting and debate is not possible, and many people will not be able to access their online events. Leicester has been continuously in some form of lockdown since March. Yet the glossy brochures do not answer key questions and obscure some of the reality.
When over 80 acute services are removed from a hospital site leaving a ‘campus’ with just four services, while most of the land is sold off for housing, it is effectively a hospital closure. But the official material doesn’t say that. When there are a totally inadequate number of hospital beds being provided, despite future projected population growth, it is a real cut in the number of beds per head. When they say that services in the community will soak up the extra demand, while not elaborating how that is to be done – or how it will be financed – it is a flawed plan.
The proposals do not account for the lessons of Covid. Future planning has to allow for more space and capacity in our NHS to deal with potential pandemics to come, not less!
The campaign has been active on the streets, produced leaflets explaining our points and put our case to council health scrutiny committees. We have done our best to get media coverage, and have organised a series of online public meetings. Big banners and window posters are going up across the city, county and in Rutland.
The deadline for the end of consultation is 21 December. We are doing what we can in these lockdown conditions to get our message across to the community and into the trade union movement.